“Spitskop Special Needs School”

THABAZIMBI – After years of struggle it seems as if the dream of a local school for Thabazimbi’s children with special educational needs might become a reality.

One of the major hurdles was to get a suitable premises. Recently an anonymous donor made funds available and a small holding at Spitskop some 4km out of town was identified. The property is ideal; it has a large house with a big well kept lawn and large trees. There is an existing vegetable tunnel and some of the animals will be retained to welcome the kids.

A Computer centre and therapy facilities will be added while the large workshop will be converted into a creativity / art centre. Since occupational and speech therapy form an integral part in the development of these children, the vision is to appoint permanent therapists. Children with special needs are often caught up in their own world. With the right therapy it is however possible to unlock and develop their potential.

The school will function in a unique way. Classes will consist of no more than eight children who will, based on a pre-evaluation, follow an educational program suitable for his/her level of development. To cater for their social development there will be group activities and enough time to play and interact with others.

In order to get further funding it will be necessary to determine exactly how many affected children there are. In this regard the required consent has already been obtained from the Department of Education and contact has been made with all local schools. This process will identify children that are in main stream education while they actually require special needs education. Unfortunately there are children whose delayed development already excluded them from main stream education and thus do not attend any school. It is specifically these children that must be found.

Unfortunately it will not be possible to cater for everybody and will the focus initially be on Autism, Down syndrome, severe epilepsy and brain damage. In order to have the most effective approach for every child’s unique problem, a professional evaluation will be a requirement. If parents already have professional diagnosis it will be of great help. Children who are not diagnosed can be helped by TUKS and Medunsa Universities.

If you are concerned about your child’s development, you can approach his/her day care or teacher. If something’s wrong they will most probably know it. These people see your child functioning in a group and they will know if something is wrong. Due to the sensitivity surrounding children with disabilities the teacher or day care parent may be reluctant to approach you as parent and the responsibility is on the parent to ask the questions. You can also approach your doctor.

Spitskop Special Needs School is no longer a dream but almost a tangible reality. The school is desperately seeking people that can get involved, be it on professional or other levels. This also goes for people who have made contact in the past. It has been quite some time since the previous article in the Kwêvoël and the school needs confirmation of contact details.

Kindly contact Salomien Snyman on 072 4633 657 or per e-mail spitskopsns@gmail.com with any information or questions.