My son Connor is Autistic. He is bright, funny, creative, talkative... but there are few who "get" him, and few schools that can develop his specific abilities in a way that would help him reach his potential.
Government schools do not fully cater for his needs. He was in a LSEN (Learners with Special Education Needs) school, but they do not have the facilities to help him, and if we did not put him in a school that knows how to deal with his specific needs and abilities, my bright boy will end up in a position where he will be frustrated, bored, and most of all, not ready for life as an adult. He needs one-on-one instruction, patience, silence, calm, and structure. He was drowning in a sea of classmates who see him as an alien. He has been misdiagnosed and medicated for ADHD and even bipolar disorder. He was even suicidal because he felt misunderstood and left out.
His care, both physical and emotional is very expensive, as he also has need of orthopaedic shoes to correct his feet, and glasses because he has a lazy eye. I am an employed single mother of two with no financial support structure outside my immediate family and I have relied on them for too long. As a teacher, I have worked in Special Needs Education, so I know what my son is going through, and it is breaking my heart. So many kids just fall into the LSEN school system because nobody knows that they are bright but bored, they are not challenged, not stimulated. There are schools that can help him, but they are out of my pay grade as a teacher, most over R5000 per month, and even transport to the school I found is more than double what I pay now. There are Government grants available for kids like Connor but I do not qualify as an employed person.
I found the perfect place for him, and they were even willing to subsidise him with R3000. Unfortunately that still leaves me short R4500 per month, and that does not include transport, psychiatrist fees (The last rate was R2500). I have medical aid, but the co-payment of his neurologist was R800 pm/per visit... Meds, depending on what the popular diagnosis of the month was, ranged from R450 pm to R1000 pm.
Connor should also have specialised care after school as he is very naive, impulsive, and does not have a sense of caution. After-care facilities that specialise in helping him are also few and far between, therefore the facility I found is ideal, as they also offer on-site homework help after school. For the past year I have had to struggle to complete homework with him until late at night because the after-care facility cannot spend all their time on him as it is unfair to their other kids. I am emotionally and physically exhausted, and financially drained. My son is very much in tune with these feelings, and he acts up when there is a stressed atmosphere in the house. This also affects his sister, who has always had to stand back and watch me struggle with some aspect of his care.
We took a leap of faith and he is now in a school where he comes home smiling, chatting, showing off work, instead of trying to hide his homework book because there's a letter from the teacher about some issue he had in class. He is HAPPY. Just this month has made such a huge change in his life.
Connor is an artist, an old soul, a clever boy. He loves dinosaurs and Goosebumps books, puns and YouTube clips. He has a general knowledge that puts most adults to shame, and he has an excellent vocabulary and way with words. He can grow up to become an engineer, a scientist, a designer, architect, or even a dinosaur if he wants to... and this lovely school seems to be just what the doctor ordered.
Any donations will be put towards his education and care so that I can pay his school fees as far ahead as possible, and perhaps be able to find someone who can help at home with his care, even if it is just once a week so that I can spend quality time with my daughter, who always stands aside for her older brother.