In the nucleus of every cell there are metres of DNA, which when unravelled and examined, reveal the true nature of the blueprints for things to grow and live. DNA is a molecule that carries most of the genetic instructions used in the development, functioning and reproduction of all known living organisms. This term we have been looking closely at Ashton’s DNA and exploring what it is that sets us apart, and makes us proud to be the school that we are today.
Just one of our strands is the strand of inclusivity which allows us to embrace different styles of learning and those who learn differently, particularly in our Grace Wing. The idea was born, almost two years ago, to build a facility within the Ashlings’ Early Learning Centre, to cater for children on the Autism spectrum. The CEO of Ashton College, Andre Buys and his wife, Germare, whose hearts to help their precious younger son extended beyond their own desires as they embarked on a project which would also serve those families in our community and beyond, needing schooling for their children on the spectrum.
And so, in faith, we began the journey! Grace Wing at the Ashlings’ Early Learning Centre was named the Germare and Reinie’s Autism Centre of Excellence and at the start of last year, we opened our doors to our first class of Gracelings, with the intent of preparing these children to one day, enter mainstream schooling.
There are a vast number of ways which a person can manifest their autism and as a result, this condition is now more often referred to as “Autism Spectrum Disorders” known as ASD. At the Grace Wing we accept children on the spectrum between the ages of 3 and 6 years. Our Gracelings ‘carousel’ into the Ashlings’ classrooms as they are able to, and our neuro-typical children have a growing acceptance of their special friends who may talk, behave or play differently to the way they do. We are blessed to have full time Speech and Occupational therapists who work alongside the Grace Wing staff, on individual educational and developmental plans.
Andre and Germare Buys, in their quest to offer our students the best possible educational programme, visited reputable Autism centres in Australia last year, to undergo some training and to form networking opportunities, and at the start of this year, acquired the professional services of a Behaviourial therapist from America, whilst she was in South Africa, to further train our Grace Wing staff.
What an exciting journey on which to be, as we develop Ashton’s DNA!