Autism Eastern Cape is a small non-governmental organisation in Nelson Mandela Bay on the south-east coast of South Africa.
Services include a pre-school, young adult outreach, an online support group, and a Facebook page to help increase awareness and acceptance of autism. We also raise funds for autism education and awareness events. As a registered non-governmental organisation and public benefit organisation we have an NPO number and PBO number.
We are all (except from the pre-school teachers, who are paid) volunteers. As an organisation, we receive no government funding and fundraising for this “invisible” condition is an ongoing challenge worsened by the pandemic and subsequent lockdown measures across South Africa.
A vital part of our work as an NGO is to be an advocate for the rights of people with autism and hence we also lobby for increased access to education.
We are affiliated to Autism South Africa and support its national and regional initiatives to bring services to the autistic community.
The free services of Autism Eastern Cape such as information and support are available through our Facebook page. Due to the absence of much face-to-face contact over the Covid-19 pandemic, we receive many more queries “online” than pre-2020. Numbers in our Facebook family support group (a private group) have risen over lockdown and we use social media to give information and support to an increasing number of people. Our Early Intervention Centre has its own FB page.
The pandemic hit Autism Eastern Cape’s fundraising efforts extremely hard and we lost the opportunity to raise funds from several sources. We are so grateful for any contributions!
Autism is a lifelong and pervasive neuro-developmental condition that affects communication, social interaction, behaviour and sensory integration. This may include persistent impairments in social interaction and the presence of restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviours, interests, or activities.
Many children with autism will need specialised education and long-term care into adulthood.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition(DSM-5) today defines autism under the umbrella term of Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, with terms such as autism and Asperger Syndrome subsumed under this diagnosis.
The earlier autism can be identified, the sooner a child can receive appropriate services which may include specialised schooling and other interventions. These services can help develop important skills. Only a health-care professional such as a medical doctor, or qualified counselling or clinical psychologist, may officially diagnose autism. It is a complex condition that varies from person to person, and there may also be other factors, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or epilepsy, that may complicate the picture. It is helpful for a caregiver or teacher to give the medical professional information although they may not officially make a diagnosis.
• About 1 in 44 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder according to estimates from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network. Although this is an American statistic, it is likely that the incidence of ASD in South Africa - and the Nelson Mandela Bay Area - is similar. Read article
• ASD is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Read article
• ASD is more than 4 times more common among boys than among girls. Read article