On the morning of 11 January 2012 fifty children entered through the gates at the SNAP Centre in Durbanville to begin a bright future in their respective grades at the foundation phase school for learners with autism - SNAP Academy.
SNAP Academy was started 3 years ago and now consists of 2 Grade 0 classes, 2 Grade R classes, 2 Grade 1 classes, a Grade 2 and Grade 3 class. Says Vice-Principal, Salomé Smit with tears in her eyes “The children are juststreaming in and it does not stop.”
SNAP Academy teaches the National Curriculum for children on the Autistic Spectrum and children with other special needs. Some children have never been allowed entrance to a mainstream school, for some the holiday has been too long, but for most they were happy to be back at a school where they are understood, helped, taught, supported and where they can make friends.
The dream started with a little class 6 years ago that taught the children to listen and function in a group, after having had one-on-one tutoring. In the afternoons, they still received their tutoring and the combination proved to be a winner. The children learned to socialize, wait, loose, accept “no” as an answer and were taught social skills.
Now 6 years later SNAP Academy is a Junior Phase school with 8 classes, a teacher and class assistant in each class.
There is good discipline and the children are learning and making progress.
In one class a child might have a facilitator, in another the computer is used as an aid for writing, certain children will do their work on their iPads and if a child needs a 45% angle to work in order to see better, that is also provided. Children with difficulty writing can also pack out their words and sums instead of writing. Through this process learning is continuously taking place, although the method applied will be what each child needs.
After school one-on-one tutoring is still available to children who require social interaction and strengthen the areas where they still have not achieved. The goal is to develop the child holistically. Parents co-operate with the diet, which can also differ from child to child GC/CF or SCD. Homework classes are also offered to help the child with specific homework that the teacher gives them and Mom cannot do.
The social interaction group once a week helps and teaches the children skills in a group setting.
Meetings with the parents are held to discuss progress and provide suggestions. We had 92 bookings for our first parent meeting!
We have also established a special needs classroom at Blouvlei School in partnership with Inclusive Education and the Western Cape Department of Education with 3 previously disadvantaged learners who are doing well. We have trained tutors in the community to facilitate these children in the classrooms.
We are continuously raising funds for children who cannot afford intervention and offer workshops that include one-on-one intervention to address their unique deficits as well as tools and methods for their parents to use at home.
We currently have a staff complement of 75 people comprising of programme managers, tutors, teachers and other specialized therapists.
We look back to 14 years ago when SNAP started with one child and one teacher and we thank God for everybody He has sent to us and the progress we have been able to make under His Blessing.