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SOUTH AFRICA
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Desperate and Saddened in South Africa

On May 12, 2010, my husband and I received the most shocking and unexpected news: Our second son who is 4 years old has autism. He is unable to speak and only communicates by using body language and a few signs. He has uncontrolled babble and strange little mannerisms that no one can understand.

Mainstream schools and mainstream teachers here are not equipped to deal with children like this. Being in the rural Mtubatuba area (North Coast, Kwa Zulu Natal), there are no facilities, organisations or teachers to help rehabilitate children like this.  I know of three such children in this area.

I was referred to an autistic school (TRIAD) in Richards Bay KZN and Pathways Zululand about 55 km away from the where we stay. After an interview and review of the school’s monthly fees, we have grown desperate. The program is very expensive and financially unobtainable to me.

This means that my child will never experience mainstream schooling and will never be able to communicate verbally or express himself. This condition is considered to be a mental disability without good treatment.

I have surfed the internet for government institutes in rural Natal, and there is nothing in this area. I have only found a private school in Richards Bay. I have approached family and financial institutes for loans, but have been turned down.

I can’t believe how intolerant and impatient people are towards disabled people and children. This is so sad to me.

Desperate and saddened.

Lillian Coester
2010

The views expressed in this paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the NLM Family Foundation.

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