Vera School for Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Vera School for Learners with Autism was founded in 1970. It is the oldest of only five government schools in South Africa which make specific provision for learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
The school is situated on a one and a half hectare piece of land in the residential suburb of Rondebosch East. Hostel facilities are situated on the same grounds as the school.
Vera is a public school functioning under the auspices of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED). It is a parallel medium school and the languages of instruction are English and Afrikaans.
Vera School is regarded as a specialist resource centre in the field of ASD. Teachers as well as other professionals are encouraged to utilize the school for information, support and guidance. Regular workshops are offered by the Vera staff for parents, teachers and professionals from various settings, who work with learners with ASD.
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neuro-developmental disorder, that varies in severity of presentation. ASD is known as a “spectrum” disorder because there is wide variation in the type and severity of symptoms learners experience. It can be characterised by difficulties in social interaction and communication and by restricted or repetitive patterns of behaviour and thinking.
ASD is categorised as a “developmental disorder” because symptoms generally appear in the first two years of life.
ASD is often diagnosed by using the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The DSM-5 is a guide created by the American Psychiatric Association used to diagnose mental disorders.
Depending on the severity of ASD, it may cause symptoms that cause barriers in the person’s ability to function properly in school, work, and other areas of life. ASD is a lifelong disorder and treatments and services can improve a person’s symptoms and ability to function.