The Centre for Autism Research and Education has seen a dramatic rise in the number of children with autism who require specialised intervention.
The centre, based in Orange Grove, is a specialised educational and therapy centre for children with autism spectrum disorder between the ages of 18 months to 12 years of age and has been operating for the past seven years.
Recent estimates suggest that as many as one in 68 children could have autism, according to speech-language pathologist and therapy director, Krishen Samuel.
“It is currently the fastest growing developmental disability worldwide and no specific cause for autism has been identified.
“It appears to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors that cause the condition to manifest. Early detection and intervention are crucial for children with autism who receive early intervention are able to make good progress,” said Samuel.
He said signs to look out for include making less eye contact, lack of social interaction and play, behavioural challenges and a lack of speech development. She added that children with autism will often also engage in repetitive activities and become fixated on parts of objects such as lining up toys or spinning the wheels of a toy car.
“These signs can usually be detected as early as 18 months and even earlier in some cases.
“If children with autism do not receive intervention, they lose out on valuable early developmental experiences,” said Samuel.
He said the centre for autism is able to offer this intervention through intensive speech, occupational therapy and specialised educational interventions. They teach children social and communication skills in a safe and accepting environment.
The centre also aims to integrate youngsters with autism into society by engaging them with activities such as shopping in the community, horse riding and fun outings. The little ones had a fun-filled day at the World of Golf on 25 May and they will have another outing to Rush Indoor Trampoline Park at Greenstone Mall later this month.
Samuel said these outings serve to develop social awareness and allow the children to integrate into the community.
Details: Centre for Autism Research and Education [email protected]; 011 485 0335.