Empowering the system to support learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder
18 July 2019
The Western Cape Education Department’s Directorate: Inclusive and Specialised Education Support has offered various training sessions throughout the province to empower the system to support learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Training started at the end of the first term of 2019 when provincial ASD outreach teams trained Learning Support Advisers (LSAs) and Learning Support Coordinators (LSCs). A total of 72 LSAs and LSCs from all education districts have been trained at different venues.
Training on the basics of ASD was extended to Learning Support Educators in all the districts. The aim as always is to empower educators to support ASD learners within all sectors of education. This training will be followed up by more in-depth training throughout the next 12 months. By 03 August 2019, approximately 610 educators will have been exposed to the first round of training.
Training has also been provided to the various outreach teams rendering therapeutic services to Children with Severe to Profound Intellectual Disabilities (CSPID).
Training has been cascaded down to carers from various special care centres across the province. The ASD outreach teams as well as school-based teams trained carers on 14 and 15 May 2019 at different venues in the Metro. Two-day training sessions took place at Worcester, Riebeeck Valley, Blouvlei School, Beacon School, Chere Botha School, Dorothea School and Carpe Diem School. The feedback at all the training centres was excellent. During this time excellent collaboration was established between the various stakeholders. The training will be strengthened by follow-up training sessions on specific topics concerning Autism. The CSPID teams who arranged the venues and catering did an outstanding job at ensuring that everyone was comfortable and well looked after.
A total of 600 carers were trained across the province. Carers went back to their different centres with lots of new ideas and enthusiasm.
Towards the end of the second term the teams presented the annual two-week intensive ASD course at two different venues. This course was originally compiled by Margaret Golding and the management of Vera School (Fanie Minnaar, Cecil Reed and Jana Forrester) and was piloted in 2005. It was designed to address the needs of educators and related professionals (psychologists, speech therapists, occupational therapists etc.) who worked with or intended to work with learners with ASD. The course is both theoretical and experiential and due to the intensive nature of the course only 20 delegates can be accommodated at a time. The course is accredited by Autism South Africa. Professionals registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) receive Continuous Professional Development (CPD) points for attending the course. The Western Cape Education Department is in the process of getting the course accredited with the South African Council for Educators as well.
The general feedback on the various training sessions was positive and overall a need for more training on ASD was expressed.