LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It started when a St. Nicholas Center employee met someone who knew of an autism center in Africa that needed aid. The Lake Charles center didn’t hesitate to begin outreach.
The center would help teachers employed at Autisme Rwanda in Africa find the proper autism education.
“Though their hearts are in the right place, and they’re so passionate about the kids; they are not special educators," Tausha Kordisch, the outreach coordinator for St. Nicholas Center said. "They were never trained in special education. They were never trained in autism. They’re in there working day in and day out trying to teach them academics.”
Children with autism typically have difficulty with social behaviors. This makes the channel for learning and communication difficult, if not done properly.
“What we were able to do there is bring them the science, tools and techniques so they could improve social significant behaviors; such as making eye contact and communicating," Zack Sorer, the clinical supervisor for St. Nicholas Center said.
Kordisch said said the outcome was amazing.
“We had children who had never spoke before speak words," Kordisch said. “We had children who didn’t know how to communicate use sign language to ask for something—that all happened in five days. Just imagine what could happen in a year.”
Kordisch said that this trip was just the beginning. They’re next step is to bring the teachers from Autisme Rwanda to Lake Charles for extensive training in autism education. This will enable them to carry on the proper techniques at their school in Africa.
“It’s going to change the trajectory of these children’s lives," Kordisch said. "They’re not going to have to be institutionalized or outcast[ed] in their society. They’re going to be able to function within the community.”