Parents speak on new autism school

The state-of-the-art Mangaung School of Autism that is said to be in Lourier Park in Bloemfontein. PHOTO: FACEBOOK

A social media post by the Free State Department of Education regarding a state-of-the-art Mangaung School of Autism being completed has parents of autism learners abuzz. The school is said to be situated in Lourier Park in Bloemfontein.

Many parents commented by asking if they could apply for their child to attend, whereby the department answered that all the relevant information would be communicated in due course. Bloemfontein Courant spoke to parents in the city to find out what it meant to them to finally have a place where their children could be fully accommodated.

Marita Herman told the publication that to get a public school specifically for children on the autism spectrum is such a blessing for the autism community as there is a great need, not only in Bloemfontein but also in the entire Free State. “For parents it was a big struggle to find a school fit for an autistic child. Another big problem was also that private schools were not affordable by all parents.”

Blanche Rheeder said her autistic son has zero social skills. “It would be really good for us to have an educational support system for our kids that is affordable and where all children are treated equally with equal opportunities. Currently a tutor costs me R3000 a month and this is just to ensure that my child has an education. Kids on the spectrum are not given chances.”

Rheeder said autistic children are often misunderstood and “normal” schools don’t see this. All they see is destructive kids and misbehaved kids with tantrums. Another parent, who spoke to Bloemfontein Courant on condition of anonymity, explained that as a mother to a seven year-old autistic child her life was turned around when her daughter was diagnosed in 2017. “To have a school that caters for her needs would be my utmost dream come true. I take every day as it comes and in her I see a future leader who will be able to play a role in society one day and be an inspiration to other autistic kids out there.”

She said now that her daughter is school ready, it would mean a lot to her to be enrolled at a school that will cater for her educational needs. Currently she is receiving home-based care and she is enthusiastic, smart and always willing to learn something new.

An inquiry was sent to the Free State Department of Education who stated that they would be issuing information regarding the school in due course.

Sazly Hartzenberg