One of this month’s Top Causes is The Academy for Adults with Autism the Western Cape. We’re recognising them not only for the dedication that they put into their profile on forgood, but for the work that they do in the communities they are present in. We interviewed them to learn a little more about who they are to share with, and inspire you.
Who are you and what do you do?
We are a group of committed individuals who aim to assist autistic people and their families. Most young autistic adults require constant supervision, ongoing training and suitable occupation, and re-enforcement of various skills attained. The school leaver and young autistic adult is often not accepted into existing protective workshops and residential care facilities, due to their specific needs which are mostly related directly to this disorder.
Continuation of academic education, self-help skills, occupational and social skills training, as well as support, care and mental stimulation become the sole responsibility of the parents. This places an enormous burden upon parents and possibly siblings and other family members too. This is where The Academy for Adults with Autism comes in to assist.
Our objectives are to:
- Enhance the quality of life for adults affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Enhance the understanding, dignity and respect which all autistic persons deserve, within the community and society in which they reside
- Create public awareness of the specific needs and traits, as well as abilities, including the uniqueness, of autistic people
Why did you get started?
A small group of parents, very concerned about the long-term welfare of their autistic teenagers who would have to leave a specialised learning program when they turned 18 founded this nonprofit organisation. They discovered that people with the particular needs of autistic young adults are not catered for at existing places of occupation and work, due to a lack of understanding, awareness and acceptance and inclusion. We are very pleased that these concepts seem to be evolving! But there is still a severe lack of suitable facilities and having an autistic adult staying at home without a place to attend during the day, is extremely stressful for a family.
What is a story that keeps you going?
One particular person, a 30-year-old young gentleman, with Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis, as well as excessive anxiety, was sponsored to attend our day program and therapy. His mother, coping on her own, was able to obtain support through our NPO. Both of them expressed their thanks and appreciation in a hand-written letter, as they do not have money for their own computer and do not use email. This family is from a disadvantaged background and experienced severe exclusion in their lives. We found them to be very grateful and well-mannered and a respectful family.