Caring for children with autism

2015-04-29 09:24

A LOCAL woman, Desray Cunnan, has opened a school which caters for children living with the autism spectrum disorder.

The school which is a non-profit organisation, Pietermaritzburg Autism­ Angels Foundation, is in Alexandra­ Road.

The school first opened its doors on 2 April, which is celebrated internationally as World Autism Day.

Cunnan said that she has transformed her home into a school to cater for the needs of the children.

“There are no schools in PMB that specifically cater for autism. My main motivation is my son because he has autism. This place caters for their needs and we have staff well trained in autism. We gave up our home and converted it into a school. We started renovations in December and the school has been open for the second week,” she said.

School hours are from 8am until 1pm.

“Every day is different and no two children are the same. Each child has his or her own teacher. They have their own programmes and we make sure we work on their strengths. If a child is good in mathematics we make sure that we concentrate on that. My aim is to make them realise that they are great. The best part has been celebrating milestones which some of the children have attained, such as saying their first sentences.

“So many parents have been looking for schools like the one we have for years. There are so many children who are at home and have nowhere else to go, and the government does not provide such facilities. We provide occupational therapy, speech therapy and swimming. These are all covered by the school fees,” said Cunnan.

She said that people need to be well-informed about autism as there are many misconceptions surrounding it.

“Autism is a disorder and not a disability. It is sad that our society is quick to judge and put labels on children.”

The school caters for children three and older. For more information, on the Pietermaritzburg Autism Angels Foundation contact Cunnan on 033 818 9096 or 061 018 0718

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