Advice Column, Health, Parenting

Autism in Adults

The Adult Programme for People with Autism (APPAutism) is a registered non-profit company that aims to provide support for adults with moderate to severe Autism who are unable to independently perform the tasks required of adult life, following the principle of life-long learning, in a supported environment.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to, other people, and their ability to function in the world around them.

It is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways. The majority manifest with moderate to severe learning and behavioural disabilities and need a lifetime of specialist support. The nature of the disability is such that it requires intervention and management that is specific to the condition.  There are very few centres in South Africa that cater to this need.

APPAutism’s mission is to prepare adults over the age of 18 for life outside of the schooling environment, by implementing a programme of meaningful activities and interactions with the aim of developing the skills and behaviours required for these adults to be able to maximize their potential and integrate into their environments. It aims to provide a happy environment with varied activities and programmes which are individualised and where members feel they belong.

The Programme

The programme is highly structured. Every day includes components of daily living skills; vocational skills (at the many facilities within REEA); communication and socialisation skills; cognitive skills, and leisure and well-being activities

Participants are taken twice a week to a fully operational protective workshop, where they work supervision by a job coach in order to develop their ability to work in a protective workshop environment.

The programme provides for a varied and stimulating day, combining group work, individual work, and community interaction; as well as combining pre-vocational and vocational skill development, with activities that are enjoyable and fun

There is a high staff to adult ratio. (One staff member per five participants.

The programme is individualised as far as possible to the specific strengths of each person. Each person will have an Individual Daily Life Plan which incorporates goals/ activities related to the social, emotional, work, and familial aspects of their lives.

APPA is a non-profit company. However monthly fees are charged in order to maintain the varied extent of the programme, and the high staff to student ratio.

We are open from 08:00 to 15:00 daily, Monday to Friday, with an annual holiday break in December.

Daily Living Activities :

Aim: To develop and build self-help skills, leading to independence, in the areas of dressing, hygiene, food preparation, meal-times; housekeeping duties.

Examples of activities may be: preparing food/snacks; laying the table; eating together; independent eating skills; sweeping; loading dishwasher; hanging up clothes; feeding pets; laying the table; etc

Protective Workshop Activities :

Aim: To identify the “best-fit” workshop/work activities that leverage both the interests and the capabilities of the adult.

This may include daily workshop time either in the REEA facility or in an external facility that has been identified. Or it may include partial workshop activity time, e.g. for a couple of hours twice a week. This will depend on the ability of the individual to stay on task for long periods of time.

Examples of activities may be: Sorting, packaging; compiling; assembling; office work; Working in the gardens; Part-time work at already established protective workshop centres; Dog walking; Any other work in and around the facility

Leisure and Well Being:

Aim: To replicate a normal, fulfilling day with balanced activities to ensure the quality of life and to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Examples of activities may be: Walking/hiking/exercising; Art lessons; Music Therapy; Watching TV/listening to movies; Restaurant/movies/ten pin bowling; “Me” time; Dancing/ ball play/soccer; Shopping

Communication and Socialisation

Aim: To continue to develop appropriate communication skills, and socially appropriate, adaptive behaviours, and work on diminishing socially inappropriate behaviours. These specific skills are inherent and form part of all other activities at the centre. Group socialisation sessions are held weekly led by a qualified social worker. AAC communication devices or systems are encouraged.

Cognitive

Aim: To continue to reinforce and build on academic skills obtained during schooling years

Examples of activities may be: Numeracy and basic math’s; English and writing skills; Money skills; Computer Skills; Fine motor and gross motor development

Facilities

Here we have combined our own specific programme, in our own custom venue, with the facilities available at REEA.

The facilities available to us include:

  • A specific area custom designed for APPA (Adult Programme for People with Autism)
  • A homely environment
  • A large kitchen and laundry for life skills
  • A fully catered dining room for lunchtime meals
  • Large gardens
  • Right on the border with Delta Park for walks and physical activities
  • A medical/emergency room, staffed with a full-time nurse
  • Horseriding facilities on the property
  • Indoor swimming facility nearby
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