What is Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), more commonly referred to as autism, is a complex developmental condition that affects the way the brain develops and learns.​

Signs of autism usually appear by age two or three, and many children are diagnosed around this time. The exact cause of autism has not yet been discovered. 

Some of the main characteristic features of Autism include:

  • Difficulties with social communication abilities, including verbal and nonverbal communication, expressing basic wants and needs and sharing experiences, thoughts, and emotions. 
  • Deficits in social interactions, including taking part in and understanding a conversation or interaction, making and keeping friends, and engaging with others.
  • Restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities and difficulties with sensory processing. 

Many children with autism, especially those on the higher support side of the spectrum, may have an accompanying intellectual disability, poor motor coordination, severely delayed language development or be pre-verbal (they are non-speaking). Some children with autism often also present with medical difficulties, such as gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures or sleep disorders, as well as mental-health challenges such as anxiety, depression, and attention difficulties.


While autism is considered a lifelong disorder, the degree of impairment in functioning owing to the challenges they experience varies between individuals. Each child with autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. Some children with autism may need significant support in their daily lives, while others may need less support.

Group Of Young Children Sitting On Slide In Playground

About Our School

Herbert Street Special School for Learners with Autism opened its doors on 14 February 2019 in Sunkist, Bellville.
Our school grounds had a rich history as part of the healthcare and education sectors before becoming what it is today. The school is one of a few specialised satellite schools started by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) to cater for the great need in the Western Cape for school placements of learners with autism.

All children have the right to an education, however, not all children can benefit from a mainstream school programme and curriculum. Our school provides an educational setting for learners with autism that require high levels of support to learn effectively, i.e. for the learners who have special educational and developmental needs.

We started with fourteen learners on the first day and now have more than eighty learners. The school does not follow a graded system because of the varied developmental patterns of the learners. Instead, learners are placed in a section according to their age range. We have four Junior Section classes, five Middle Section classes and two Senior Section classes. The school’s main teaching medium is English, however, as far as possible, we make adjustments to teach learners in a language that is most familiar to them.

A Better Future Through Play



We strive to equip all our learners with a toolbox of skills, strategies, and knowledge to prepare them for their onward journey and empower them to become valuable members of their communities.


Our mission is to create opportunities through education in an environment that is caring, supportive, and joyful, improving the lives of children and young adults on the autism spectrum and the lives of their families.


Above all, we value
◆ Respect
◆ Responsibility
◆ Honesty
◆ Care


Our facilities are designed with our learners in mind, keeping them safe while being able to explore and grow.
Junior Section Classrooms
Middle Section Classrooms
Senior Section Classrooms
Lazy Eight
Admin/Reception Building
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Meet Our Team

Herbert Street Special School STAFF