On a crisp Wednesday morning, the NAC made its way to the old South of Johannesburg in search of Tamarisk Special School for Autism. We arrived at a facility in a small and modest location that was previously used as a pre-school – a true testimony that dynamite comes in small packages.
Tamarisk was launched in 2018 by the Department of Education through, Panyaza Lesufi (Gauteng MEC for Education) to create facilities that are effective for children with special needs.
For Autism, in particular, South Africa had only three schools that cater for non-neurotypical thinkers until Tamarisk was established. The school has a total of 73 learners and currently has an extensive waiting list for potential students, all in need of the kind of education that can unlock their potential.
To ensure a relevant fit, students are initially screened through a primary diagnosis for Autism to be placed in the school. The school creates supporting network nodes around each student by involving a teacher, teacher assistant, therapist and parent. To bolster their capacity Tamarisk has added an Occupational Therapy Department, a Speech Therapy Department and an onsite nurse.
Join us in this podcast interview as we have an inspiring conversation with the head of Occupational Therapy at Tamarisk School – Carrie Johnston, as we engage about the school and how it came to be.
Autism, in layman’s terms, refers to a condition characterised by challenges with communication and speech. In the podcast, we discuss how Tamarisk is finding the right blend for the right child and how the arts are necessary for the school’s curriculum, particular for children with special needs.