the Society for Children and adults with Autism is a welfare organization which was set up to promote the interest of children and adults with autism. Its purpose, structure and governance are set out in Constitution. So far it has sponsored only one project which is The Key School in Parktown.
There is a need to fulfil its wider purpose. The Society’s objectives at this time may be summarised as:
An expansion of present capacity at The Key School and the improvement of its facilities.
The establishment of a Resource Centre of therapists with specialist skills in Autism and related disorders to reach out to the wider community including parents of children with disabilities.
Provision of weekend respite care (to relieve hard-pressed parents)
The establishment of sheltered communities in which people of past school age can lead meaningful lives.
Autism is a life-long condition that pervades all racial and social groups worldwide. Incidence of the spectrum of closely related disorders, of which classic Autism is part, is now thought to be 1 in every 150 births, with 4 times as many boys as girls affected. Because of its high incidence that appears to be increasing, major research is now on its way in many countries, but particularly in America, Britain, France and Italy, to try to determine causes. Some promising lines of enquiry have opened up. For the present though, and probably for many years to come, schools such as The Key School offers the only prospect open to autistic children – and their parents-of help with this strange and distressing condition.
Prognosis for autistic children varies as widely as the range of disabilities. The Society’s objective for children is to develop children at The Key School to the point where they can either gain as much independence as possible, or move onto mainstream schooling and to a near normal life thereafter. 70% of children with Autism will however require life-long care.
For older children our aim is to provide sheltered employment on the model of communities already successfully operating in America, Britain and elsewhere. The communities provide a life not at all cut off from the wider community.
The Key School’s mission is to give every child with autism in the Johannesburg and Soweto areas the chance of a dignified and worthwhile life by doing what we can- and a great deal can be done-through specialised education and therapy. We will not turn away any child that might benefit from our care, provided we have the financial recourses to enable us to admit that child. Potential demand for places at The Key School greatly exceeds our present capacity, although we continually address this need.
The school has well qualified and dedicated staff, under the leadership of an experienced principal. The society and the school are managed to high professional and business standards under the guidance of a school council comprising of parents and staff, all of whom have appropriate qualifications and experience in their respective fields of school governance, financial and business management. Strict financial controls are maintained, and the school council develops strategic plans and budgets, progress against which is monitored at formal monthly meetings.
The Key School Foundation whose main function is to raise funds has been established to accomplish our objectives.