There was a desperate need in Port Shepstone and surrounding areas for a school which would address the challenges of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
There seemed to be little or no understanding or acceptance of children with autism in the community. Schools and teachers seem unaware of the condition meaning that children are often labelled as badly behaved or perhaps having low intelligence. Children have often been excluded from enrolment in mainstream schools as these schools are unable to deal with the child’s specialised needs.
As a result, families with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder were desperate and at a loss as to where to turn for help.
A small team of interested professionals and parents got together and started Autism South Coast, an organisation promoting awareness of the condition of autism.
Since April 2012, Autism South Coast hosted a support group for families, teachers and professionals interested in learning more about autism and how to overcome the challenges presented by the condition. Now that our school is open, teachers and parents find support within our existing community.
Their vision of having a school here in Port Shepstone for children with autism became a reality in January 2014.
First Things First
The school opened in January 2014 under the name of Cornerstone Learning Centre, and is registered as a Non Profit Organisation. Premises for the school were kindly provided by the Norwegian Settlers Church. These premises are ideally situated in a very central position, readily accessible from areas north, south and inland of Port Shepstone.
The local branch of the Master Builders Association generously agreed to sponsor alterations and renovations to the existing buildings at the church. These renovations were completed in time for the opening of school in January 2014.
Vision for the Future:
Cornerstone Learning Centre aims to create awareness in the community of the prevalence of autism and how to include these individuals in our society in a caring, non-judgemental manner.
Teachers, parents and other interested persons will be able to attend courses and workshops to be held at the school, with the aim of supporting individuals with autism wherever they may be attending school.
Families will be able to come to the school for advice on where to go for assessments and therapy, and how to be able to help their child in their own homes.
Cornerstone Learning Centre aims to ultimately develop a vocational training unit, additional therapy areas and resource and training centres for local schools, as funds become available.