North Eastern Tribune – Autism put on the spotlight during awareness month

JOBURG – Read how one educational centre is giving hope to families affected by autism.


The Star Academy kicked off autism awareness month last week with a message of hope that autism was a treatable illness and recovery is possible.

This was the message from Ilana Gerschlowitz, director of the academy, at the recent commemorative event hosted by the organisation in Waverley. Gerschlowitz explained that it was important to host the event as it was a way to create awareness of the condition, how it affects children and how it can be treated.

“People are just starting to really learn about autism and it remains a struggle to get the necessary help because of certain constraints such as funding and support from government and medical aid schemes,” Gerschlowitz said.

“Despite this, there have been positive developments made and interventions available, including the Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) programme, which is evidence-based and has proven to be a medical necessity for kids with autism.”

The ABA programme is the application of principles of behaviour that are socially important. The programme applies differently to everyone as each individual in the autism spectrum presents different symptoms and the focus is to look at behavioural excesses and skill deficits, usually in the areas of communication and social interactions.

“We are definitely getting there with raising awareness, but we need to do more, especially for the families affected by autism who face constant judgement whenever they go out with their autistic children,” she said. To this end, the academy was working with various schools and had an outreach programme in Tembisa to help raise awareness about the condition.

Gerschlowitz concluded by expressing gratitude for the continued support given to the academy, reiterating that there was hope for those affected. “For parents and kids there is hope, especially through the ABA approach because it helps the children learn how to become functional members of society.”

The Star Academy is an education centre focused on providing children with autism or a related disorder with an appropriate education.

The commemorative event took place on 1 April while World Autism Awareness Day was commemorated on 2 April.