Autism Connect finds its roots in a normal family home in Stallion Way, Westridge, Mitchell’s Plain in 2013. A young and healthy Tyler was only 8 years old and in need of special needs education, having been diagnosed with autism a few years earlier. As a mother Nicolette Ripepi was desperate to give her son the education he deserved, but was frustrated with red tape and bureaucracy. She set out on a journey to not only change Tyler’s future but those of many other children. This journey of discovery and exploration led to the birth of Autism Connect.
Confident in her belief that Tyler would get some form of education and support, Nicolette transformed her own house into a learning centre. This was truly like the birthing process of a butterfly. Nicolette, confident in her mission and purpose, created the foundations for what is today known as Autism Connect Learning Centre.
Autism Connect has grown in leaps and bounds and has become one of the most sought-after centres for children with ASD. Many children who are young adults now have passed through its doors and the collection of photos and videos accumulated over the years bears testimony to the many smiling and happy faces that were part of the Autism Connect family.
When my son, Tyler, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) back in 2007 at the tender age of 2 years old, we were naturally devastated by the news, yet we trusted that the good Lord would guide us on this journey into the most daunting adventure!
Our experience was made a bit more challenging when it was discovered that Tyler’s condition needed much more high and intense intervention. This needed private intervention to enable acceptance into established special care institutions and state run, autistic schools. Travelling and private tuition costs soon mounted with seemingly little improvement in his development. This was draining and disheartening – having lived in the communities all my life, having been subjected to impoverished conditions and its effects on people living on the Cape Flats. My thoughts went with the reality of my situation and its potential effects on the families with similar or more severe challenges. Fuelled by the desire to actively make a difference in my own child’s life and those in the surrounding community, that birthed the existence of Autism Connect.
Thank you, Nicky