New light for special needs education

Special Needs School pupils interact with a horse.

The Special Needs School brings innovative learning to pupils with special needs in Phoenix.  The institution which was established in 2007 provides education to children with developmental disorders, learning disabilities such as autism, dyslexia, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, and to any child who does not attend mainstream schools in the Phoenix, Verulam and Chatsworth areas.

The school is said to have assisted many children from being non-verbal to becoming verbal. The school curriculum centres around each individual child, facilitating them on a one to one basis and working with them on their functional levels, taking into account their delayed milestones and performing well below their chronological age.

As a special needs school, they offer many therapies at their school such as occupational and speech therapy, speech and drama, arts and craft, life skills, outdoor/motor/gross motor skills enhancement, vegetation therapy and to date have created their own learning programmes which have helped our students reach their maximum potential.

The innovative school looks at creative strategic therapy that is educational yet attractive enough for a special needs child to want to learn from. They have also introduced Equine Therapy which is horse therapy to their pupils.

ALSO READ: Special Needs School celebrates ‘Autism Awareness Month’

“We are the first school in Phoenix that has been granted permission by department authorities to stable a horse at our school. After research on Equine Therapy, we were determined to offer this therapy to our special needs children. This therapy which enhances the relationship between a special needs child and a horse has many therapeutic benefits,” said school principal, Bilkees Musthafa.

Horse therapy improves concentration in a slow pupil, assists with speech delays, improves muscle tone and usage. Equine Therapy can be tailored to individual pupils to suit their individuals’ needs such as developing specific exercises to target specific muscles and stretch, tone and strengthen those muscles.

In 2018, the school intends to focus more on ADD and ADHD students. They are faced with a problem where pupils are now easily diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. They are proud to inform the public that our programme has worked for many pupils and changed the lives of many parents towards a better and healthier learning environment and facility.

“I have gained expertise in my field of special needs education over the years and will be introducing my very own text books that I have put together to make special academic work possible for these pupils as well as pupils who attend mainstream and require remedial assistance,” she said.

Musthafa is certain that this will be a turning point for education being made easy for special needs children as it is her firm belief that skills development is only part of the school curriculum.

“Academic work can definitely be worked on with patience, strategy and specialised techniques. We have seen the change, it’s time you allow your child that chance to life and development. We have the will power to ensure success. Pupils who attend mainstream schools and are experiencing problems such as reading, spelling, comprehending and lack of concentration should join our remedial programme. We have had great successes,” she concluded.

Zamangiba Zondi

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