Please think of the children?


Hi, my name is JP and my eldest son, Logan (4) is non-verbal and is still in nappies, he has ASD – autism spectrum disorder, a neurological disorder that affects every aspect of my family’s lives.

Logan has attended Amazing K for almost two years now. We also have a two-and-a-half-year-old boy, Tyler, who is also non-verbal but has not yet been diagnosed.

I will let you decide, once you hear our story, whether or not the school needs the new zoning.

For anyone who doesn’t know what has happened, an existing remedial school (zoned to allow for 30 children) that specialises in kids on the autism spectrum, has requested to rezone to accommodate another 30 children (the average size of a single classroom, when I attended a government school in the 90s).

This is not a new school, and the rezoning is being contested by some of the members of the community – but I’d like to try and change your minds.

If you have a few minutes, please allow me to take you through a typical morning in our house …

Try to imagine that this is your family, your children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews. Most mornings start when Logan wakes us up at 5:30am by jumping on the bed, generally in a good mood and wants the TV on.

Because Logan can’t speak, he communicates by taking your hand and pulling you towards whatever it is that he needs. First, is the TV, if you don’t choose the right show, he will push your hand to the TV until he sees what he wants to watch. Then he will push you away once he’s picked a show, this takes about five minutes every time he gets bored of what’s on (often).

That is the first chance to avoid a meltdown. By the time he leaves for school, there are normally about five chances to avoid major meltdowns.

A meltdown is almost like a tantrum, but when a neuro-typical (without autism) child has a tantrum, it’s normally to get attention, Logan’s meltdowns are typically borne from pure frustration. He starts by bouncing on his feet, and moaning, then lies on the floor and kicks wildly around, crying and screaming, sometimes even banging his face on the floor, which is super dangerous because he won’t stop even if he hurts himself …

By this time Tyler is usually awake and we dress them and get ready for school, – and if Tyler steals Logan’s bottle during this mini-mission, it’s meltdown two.

Logan then pulls me to switch on the other TV, and then to the cupboard to choose what he wants to eat, and to the fridge for something to drink. If I guess wrong too many times, on any of these, it’s meltdown crisis mode.

Because Tyler has taken to imitating his brother, we do the whole lot again for him. This time avoiding tantrums because he also wants the attention.

We then have a limited amount of time to get ourselves ready before Logan starts getting anxious and wants to leave for school. If we take too long, you get the idea… I drop Tyler off and my wife takes Logan to school, with the last possibility of a meltdown in the car seat on the way to school (he bangs his head against the back of the seat and has to be calmed down).

When he gets to school, he usually calms down within five minutes and starts with his activities. He is kept so stimulated and structured until the end of the day, that we struggle during the holidays to keep him occupied, and by the end of the holiday, we are all exhausted. But the staff and Ilse take it all in their stride and Logan has made such incredible progress at the school that he now knows the entire alphabet and has started potty training.

Now for the conundrum, Tyler has an appointment with a specialist next week, if the assessment shows that he is also on the spectrum, our only choice would be Amazing K.

The school is at capacity and has a waiting list, the rezoning would literally change our lives, as we have nowhere else to send Tyler, with a severe shortage of autism specific schools in this area, and no possibility of homeschooling.

You have the power to help my family, and we aren’t the only ones!

So far, 13 families have moved closer to the school, from parents who used to travel daily from the East Rand, to a family that moved all the way from Namibia so that their child could attend Amazing K.

Our children need the quiet of a suburban area because they cannot process sound and movement (like traffic) the same way that other children do. We don’t drive fast or recklessly, we drop our kids and fetch them and, unlike a neuro-typical school, our kids need to be taken outside in small groups, normally with two to three teachers at a time. This keeps the daytime noise down as well.

All we ask is for you to allow us to send our children to a safe space where they can learn and grow.

We understand that you may be inconvenienced in some ways, but if you could, before you fight to keep the school the size it is, come and see what Amazing K is about, drop by for some coffee and see what this school means to our kids and how much the staff care for our special little angels and, maybe, just maybe, the inconvenience of a bit more traffic won’t seem like such a big deal anymore?

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