The Step by Step School in Guyana opened its doors in September 2011 to five children with autism. Since then, we have grown rapidly, trying to meet the urgent need for such an ambitious, specialized facility designed to educate children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in the country. We presently have 11 children, five tutors and one Administrator. Run by the Step by Step Foundation, a registered charity in Guyana since 2011, the Step by Step School is registered with Guyana’s National Commission on Disabilities.
Our team and general operations are managed by our Executive Committee. Our trained tutors work very hard to ensure that each child learns the skills they need to function at their highest possible potential. Each child follows an Individualized Education Programme, based on assessment tools and revised at regular stages, which is guided and overseen by our educational and behavioural consultant, Dr. James Ellis.
Parents play a crucial role in the development of their child. Not only do parents need to follow through with the teaching methods used at the school, but they also need to create a wholesome environment for their child’s development. The school hopes to partner with parents more effectively as resources become available in the near future. In the meantime, parents have already benefited from workshops and one-to-one chats with our consultant when he visits three to four times a year.
Sharing our Good Practice in the Community
We are still in our infancy, but we also aim to provide the following supports and outreach to parents, professionals, and the community, some of which we have already initiated:
- Articles published in local newspapers
- Talks to raise awareness of ASD in Guyana
- Training sessions for parents and teachers
- Seminars at local schools/institutions
- Establishment of links with other similar provisions locally and internationally
- Negotiations with Guyana’s Ministry of Education to expand the impact of our work
- Training of our staff in basic speech therapy; funding for this initiative has been secured, and the activity should begin in 2013.
- Establishment of contacts with local paediatricians and a psychologist, with a view to developing the capacity to diagnose autism in Guyana