Autism in Ghana: One School's Success Story
But still, the school is a wonderful place. Students of all ages seem happy to be there, are given plenty of sensory breaks, enjoy comfortingly structured days with plenty of visual supports, and are taught with that magic good teacher balance of firmness and love. There are no aversives or punishments, just positive reinforcement for personal goals achieved. And there is plenty of time for recreation and exercise such as dancing, which can be critical forms of stress relief for autistic students, due the effort it take for so many of them just to keep it together in a classroom setting.
AACT is also where I witnessed a stunning example of presumed competence. To earn money and also as an occupational therapy exercise, Nortey Quaynor and fellow students spend part of their day slicing colorful paper calendars into extremely thin triangles, using the kind of quasi-guillotine paper slicer that always gives me the willies. They then wind the paper strips into beautiful beads, which are then turned into necklaces, which are then sold. They do this entirely independently, with the staff's full confidence that the students can handle themselves. This is not an activity I would trust myself to carry out without injury or with any likelihood of ending up with a usable product, yet, like so much at AACT, operating serious equipment and creating legitimate works of art were just part of the routine.
Again, AACT is a remarkable place. And I hope Mrs. Quaynor gets all the support she needs to make her ongoing autism understand and acceptance efforts a success.
The AACT website is www.aact.org.gh