The City of Johannesburg in collaboration with Autism SA and iSchoolafrica recently launched the Jozi iSchool lab inclusive education program aimed at supporting children with autism at Nokuthula Special School in Lyndhurst, Johannesburg North.

The Department of Social Development through Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) Mpho Phalatse’s office grant was able to fund Autism SA allowing it to access a program to benefit 20 children with autism.

A total of 20 iPads were handed over to Nokuthula Special School.

MMC for Health and Social Development Dr Mpho Phalatse was present at the launch, noting that the partnership is aimed at the most vulnerable in our education sector.

It will add value and enhance the tools needed to teach children that are autistic. Jozi lab will help to provide children with autism with the ability to connect with the world via the power of communication through technology, added Phalatse.

What is autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of broad range disorders of the brain development. ASD is a developmental disability and people with this disorder may communicate, interact, behave and learn in ways that are different from most people.

ASD is characterised in different degrees such as difficulty in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, repetitive behaviours and differences in sensory perception.

ASD is usually diagnosed by the time the child is three years old, and it is diagnosed four times as often in boys than in girls. Children who are diagnosed with ASD need early intervention as soon as possible.

“It is estimated that worldwide one in 160 children has ASD. This estimate represents an average figure, and reported prevalence varies substantially across studies. Some well-controlled studies have, however reported figures that are substantially higher. The prevalence of ASD in many low and middle- income countries is so far unknown,” says the World Health Organisation.

What is Autism SA and what does it do?

Autism SA is a recognised representative national body for people living with Autism. It helps with parent empowerment through various channels depending on their needs such as training, telephonic support, support via email and face to face contact support.

They have branches throughout the nine provinces in South Africa.

“The city has taken a serious stance on Early Childhood Development programs as one of its Diphetogo projects, to ensure that children’s human rights of access to quality inclusive education is realised. We are therefore delighted for being the active participants of this great initiative geared towards changing lives of children with autism,” added Phalatse.

“We have seen huge successes with use of iPads among children with autism. With the iPad children with autism have even greater opportunities to improve their communication, motor and cognitive skills,” concluded iSchoolAfrica managing director, Michelle Lissoos.

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