From birth to school-going age


Children of school-going age


After school

“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”
― John Holmes


There is only one state school in the Eastern Cape province catering exclusively for children who are autistic, namely Quest School for Autistic Learners. There also are a few private schools for children on the autism spectrum, ranging from pre-school to age 18, as well as schools which either have small classes or specialised attention and are able to accommodate children with special educational needs.

It is imperative that when deciding on correct placement for your child that you personally visit the school and make an informed decision.

Referral to special educational needs schooling is done through your district of education and therefore we encourage you to seek the Department of Education’s assistance when looking for a school.

Although private institutions sometimes purport to offer autism-specific education or intervention, it is wise to check what training the staff have and what programmes are offered.

Please contact Autism Eastern Cape if you can add to this list.

Quest School for Autistic Learners

Port Elizabeth’s Quest School for Autistic Learners is the only state school in the Eastern Cape for autistic children of school-going age. It takes pupils from six years old to 18, and has a hostel facility for children from outside the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.

Families with children younger than six are welcome to approach Quest School for assistance with an assessment. However, Quest reminds parents that it does not decide on placement of its pupils and all applications must go through the Education Department.

Principal: Lottie de Vries, Quest School for Autistic Learners, Hoy   Street, South End

e-mail   Tel: 041- 581 0964

Autism Eastern Cape Early Intervention Centre

Autism Eastern Cape Early Intervention Centre offers autism specific pre-school education

The AEC pre-school is supervised by AEC educational consultant Joan Jorritsma, formerly principal of Quest School for Autistic Learners. Staff have NQF5 in education with autism training and use the TEACHH method, specially designed for children with autism.

There are three class-rooms of no more than six children per class.

Entry criteria: Pre-school children aged 2-6, preferably diagnosed on the autism spectrum

Current enrolment: 15 children (2016)

Autism Eastern Cape Early Intervention Centre, 247 Main Road, Walmer, Port Elizabeth

e-mail:   (041) 581-0650  Principal: Joan Jorritsma


St Bartz

St Bartz Academy is a specialised centre for children with autism in Bird Street, Port Elizabeth. It is a registered Non-Profit Organisation founded in 2008 by four parents to cater for their children’s needs.

Mission: St Bartz is dedicated to provide an individual, stimulating educational plan for all learners, in a safe, positive environment, where individuality is accepted and independence is fostered.

Aim: The primary aim of St Bartz is to equip pupils with the skills to become as independent as possible and to integrate them into society. The school has small focused classes.

St Bartz offers:

  •  Intensive one-on-one therapy
  •  Social interaction
  • Behaviour modification
  • Cognitive development
  • Gross and fine motor development
  • Emotional responses and readiness
  • Child specific academic programmes.

Optional extras include: Art therapy, horse riding therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy physiotherapy, swimming, sport and ball skills.

A sensory integration programme is incorporated daily. The aim is to normalise the nervous system’s response to sensations and provide stimulation in a controlled environment.

St Bart’z teaches the children to be independent by learning to dress, brush teeth, use a knife and fork, always emphasising independence, skill development and safety.

Contact St Barz director Pat Govender, 082 820 2559

e-mail: or


Victory Kids

Victory Kids South Africa is at Newton Park Dutch Reformed Church, Mowbray Street, Newton Park.

Victory Kids is a non-profit, public benefit organisation that supports an early intervention centre for children with special needs including autism spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy, childhood apraxia of speech,  hearing impairment and general developmental delays.

Victory Kids’ entry criteria: Children aged 2 to 7 with special health care needs such as cerebral palsy, genetic disorders, autism, developmental delay, hearing loss and many other childhood disorders.

The centre provides an  intensive programme to prepare young children for entering a mainstream educational environment as well as provide intervention for children who are not able to attend normal schools. This kind of intervention is very expensive, because it requires a high staff to learner ratio, as the children work in  small class groups as well as receive intensive one-to-one training.

The centre also contracts to private therapists such as speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists to provide essential supplemented therapies. Augmentative therapies also include hydrotherapy, Kinetic Kids (a sports development programme provided by a kinder-kineticist), equestrian therapy and Kindermusiek.

The centre develops a unique Individual Education Plan/Family Support Plan for each child, which includes programmes such as Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) as well as Sensory Modulation Programmes.

The centre aims to offer not only the best early intervention programme available to children with special educational needs, but also to support their families as they deal with having a child with developmental and educational differences; their hopes and fears associated with the specific diagnosis as well as its impact on the family unit and marriage.

Further information from Zeidie-Lee Muller (operations director) 073-937 8042, e-mail:, or,   tel: 078- 608-7877.



Autism Sinethemba Early Intervention Centre

Autism Sinethemba Early Intervention Centre is at 1 Kitchener Street, Cambridge, East London.

Sinethemba’s  entry criteria: Pre-school aged children, diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Sinethemba offers: Autism specific pre-school education

Current enrolment:  13 children aged 2 ½ to 7 years old (two of our children are on waiting lists for other LSEN schools but because of long waiting lists, we will keep them with us until they can be placed).

Antoinette Bruce-Alexander, 072-678-2452; Trish, 071-301-6132, e-mail:

Website: Autism Sinethemba (Google)


Autism Western Cape has supplied the following school information for the Garden Route

Mossel Bay: Leolan Academy, new school which caters for children with autism. Tel: 083 722 4744, 044 6904785, or 086 545 2467.

George: Carpe Diem School for special needs children. 044 874 4074 / 0000

Plettenberg Bay

  • Sterreweg is a day care centre in Plettenberg Bay which caters for more general special needs and more severely affected children. 044 533 2639
  • Van Kervel School for Special needs learners caters for intellectually challenged, and older children, 044 8742042/3
  • Huis Outeniekwa Primary is a special needs school, do not know that much about them though. 044 803 7500


  • There is a Neuro Centre in Knysna that is not a school but can help children with autism with their sensory dysregulation, 044 382 1168 or

Also in George:

  • Kairos School is a special needs school in George 044 279-1563
  • Kinderkraaltjie School is a special need school in George (044) 874-4303
  • Santra Centre in George 021-465-4600

Further information from Antoinette du Preez, Projects and Support Manager, Autism Western Cape, (021) 685 9581,


Autism South Africa has a database of schools which offer placement to children with ASD. Contact ASA on: for schools in other provinces.



Need support? Require some guidance? Questions to ask? Just need to chat or want a shoulder to cry on?  Autism Eastern Cape can put you in touch with other individuals – in your home language of English, Afrikaans or Xhosa – who either have an autistic family member or are autistic themselves.

For more information, please contact the AEC office: 041 581 0650, or



  1. Autism Eastern Cape has a support group on Facebook, where membership is by invitation only (to help maintain confidentiality). This is  open to anyone interested in giving support or who is in need of emotional support. It is aimed at parents who may not be able to attend meetings in Port Elizabeth, or who are based elswhere in the Eastern Cape.

Contact:  Gillian McAinsh, 071-850 1662, Tine Joubert, 076-792 6776 for more information, or to join this group.

Web address:!/groups/1432092863741596/


  1. An informal support group meets once a month in Mount Pleasant, Port Elizabeth. This group was started by Heidi Mitchley, a former committee member of AEC, who co-ordinates this to give support and encouragement to parents of an autistic child.

Venue : Calvary Baptist Church, 3 Rhodes Street, Mount Pleasant, Port Elizabeth

Contact: Heidi Mitchley, 082 632 3963, (041) 368 8726


  1. Another group meets depending on the need, in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth. This group was started by Ndileka Jacobs and Thuli Mtila, both former committee members of AEC, to give support and encouragement to families in this suburb.

Venue: Nangoza Jebe Hall (formerly Centenary Hall), Ntshekisa Road,  New Brighton, Port Elizabeth.

Parents of children who have invisible special needs often feel isolated, judged and frustrated until they meet other parents sharing a similar journey
Susan Zajicek (Parents Supporting Parents)



Many autistic individuals benefit from assistance in various therapeutic fields. AEC is happy to list therapists and doctors in this region who have an interest or experience in working with individuals living with autism.

AEC cannot endorse or recommend particular practitioners but individual members have found certain professionals to be helpful, so please contact us for more information. If you would like to be included on this resource page, or have an update to any facilities listed, please contact AEC at:


Benita Steenekamp, former teacher at Quest School for Autistic Learners, private individual therapy

Andrea Thomas (B Psych, NMMU), ASA autism training


Yvonne Gooding

Jana Bolton Heath



Clinical psychologists  Sue Rist and Lorryn Herbst work at the “Mouse House” at 41 Mackay Street Richmond Hill. They offer the following services to parents:

    • Comprehensive assessment and reporting
    • Diagnosis
    • Referrals
    • Psychotherapy and play therapy
    • Support groups for children and parents
    • Workshop and focus groups for parents and teachers.

The aim of the Mouse House is to provide a comprehensive psychological service to both children and their families.  The Mouse House will strive to provide a warm, caring and resourceful environment where children can be assessed, supported and monitored by registered clinical psychologists.

At the Mouse House, children can find assistance and acceptance and parents can find information and direction to guide them through the often overwhelming reality of raising a child with scholastic, developmental and or emotional difficulties.

Contact Sue on (041) 818-6423, Lorryn on (041) 818-5437, or via


Toni Muller is a counselling psychologist who works extensively with children, adolescents and adults on the autistic spectrum (ASD), most particularly with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (HFASD, formerly known as Asperger’s Syndrome).

Toni is an ARICD-registered Griffiths (GMDS-ER) user, which is a recognised developmental assessment tool in the diagnosis of children on the autistic spectrum. She has extensive experience in the diagnosis and therapeutic support of those on the spectrum, together with their families. Issues addressed include social integration, communication, emotional regulation, a balanced self-concept, and self-esteem.

Her focus is on a holistic approach to input, support and growth by involving those individuals who would benefit from education about the syndrome and its management, such as teachers, schools, employers, and others involved in the life of someone with ASD. Her primary aim is to assist individuals with ASD to gain an understanding of themselves and how ASD together with its benefits and drawbacks, may impact on them, in order for them to reach their full potential.

Toni’s practice is at 246 Circular Drive, Woodlands. She can be contacted on 081-333- 1898, or by e-mail at For further information, see