Diagnosis Autism – Now What? by Ilana Gerschlowitz Author of Saving my Sons – A journey with Autism, Director of The Star Academy, Mother and Autism Advocate.

Autistic sons

 

 

In 2004, the word “autism” rang through my ears and changed our lives forever when my oldest son David received what felt like a lifelong sentence of autism. Following that fateful visit with the developmental specialist when he was 22 months the message we were given was that autism has no hope, no cure. Goodbye, and good luck is how we were dismissed from the doctor’s office. Accept him, make him comfortable. Not much you can do, unfortunately. We even had family members suggest that we institutionalize our son. Refusing to give up on him, we spent hundreds of hours reading dozens of books and searching for solutions. We were determined that our baby would grow far beyond his label and we were not willing to give up on our hopes and dreams for his future.  An attorney by profession I immersed myself in research looking for solutions.

The experience of having a child with autism begins with the shattering of all hope. The dreams you have for your child feel as if they have been ripped away in an instant and the challenging behaviors and therapies take over your life. In a way, this is your test of survival.

Today, there are a number of treatment options that help alleviate many of the symptoms suffered by our children diagnosed with autism. In addition, autism is a treatable and recoverable diagnosis.

Recovery from autism is not a new idea and was already proven in 1987 when Dr Ivar Lovaas who created Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), a teaching methodology for autism, proved recovery. Lovaas took children between the ages of 3 and 4 and placed them into 7 hours a day of ABA and they had a 47 % recovery. Since then many children have recovered from autism. ABA has now been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the US surgeon general and is covered in 50 States in the USA under medical insurance as it is considered an evidence-based solution for autism. Unfortunately, ABA has not yet received this recognition in our country.

Recovery from autism means that the child has been re-diagnosed and has lost their diagnosis of autism. Recovery means that the child has scored average to above average on their IQ and that they are in mainstream school with no facilitation. They no longer present with the criteria of an autism diagnosis.

Not every child will recover from autism and as much as early intervention sets the stage for recovery it is never too late to start the right treatments. There is no one “cure” for autism-like a magic pill a child can swallow and overnight they are miraculously cured of autism. Important to understand also is that no one individual on the autism spectrum is alike. On the one hand, we can have a child who can’t talk at all and on the other end of the spectrum, we can have a child who can have a conversation but is struggling to fit into social settings. The spectrum of autism is wide.

In 2009, I established The Star Academy (an affiliate of the US-based Center for Autism and Related Disorders – CARD) as I felt passionate about helping other parents rescue their children from this illness called ‘autism’ that traps children and keeps them from their families. At the Star Academy we change lives and we follow the ABA teaching methodology coupled with the Skills Developmental Curriculum – which is one of the world’s most holistic developmental curriculums available. The only way I can describe what we do is to describe “recreating a person”. Our team are experts in childhood development. Our mission is to provide every child with the best opportunity to realize their potential. The sky is the limit and children will only achieve as high as we set our expectations. Star Academy has become an expert unit that provides specialized and tailor-made education programs to children not only in South Africa but across our borders. Once a child has achieved pre-requisite skills for school we send our trained facilitators into the mainstream school to assist with inclusive education. Including a child in a mainstream school is a legal right. Education white paper 6 on disability which South Africa ratified years ago is very explicit in including learners with a difference irrespective of physical or intellectual impairment into the mainstream setting.

Typical learners are given an opportunity to understand and to be exposed to learners with a difference, which then sets the stage for their future career choice. When the other learners realize that there are children who struggle to do those things that come naturally to them. Being exposed to these children may result in them choosing a career as a doctor, nurse or teacher. How can we as a society expect the future generation to have empathy and understanding of difference if we do not expose our children to this difference? In addition, schools that claim to teach their children good values and morals, especially the religious schools need to set an example and include learners with a difference.

Today The Star Academy employs over 200 staff around South Africa and has Academies in Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Durban. Star has become a beacon of hope for parents in many countries in Africa. Over the last decade, I have learned how to manage and direct an organization that has an important mission to fulfill. Leadership and decision making involves making decisions in the best interests of the kids only and not being afraid to call someone out because you may upset them or hurt their feelings. I have learned to take decisions and fix them later if need be. A happy staff compliment and a team who will go to the moon and back for their kids is what is needed when servicing children with autism. Our team of ABA experts is ready to go to war for their kids. Motivating and keep our staff inspired has been top of my list. In the early years, I struggled to delegate but as the years went by I realized the important role of key players in an organization like an HR representative. Giving staff the opportunity to be heard and ensuring they feel valued and appreciated is the key to success.

I also went on to establish Catch Up Kids which provides learners with ADHD or learners falling behind in the classroom with the opportunity to catch up to their peers and remain in mainstream school without the need to attend a remedial setting.

Autism has sadly not been kind to my oldest son David who is 18 years old and profoundly autistic. He has worked very hard to learn those skills that come naturally to others. David relies mainly on his Ipad to communicate and uses only a few vocal words. Through the teaching methodology of ABA we were able to give David his best life and David works in his Deli every day where he has learned to independently make pizza, biscuits, hamburgers, and cupcakes. Although we continue to work towards David’s independence and functionality our biggest goal is for him is for him to feel well and not sick. David unfortunately has succumbed to the wounds inflicted on him by the autism diagnosis. We continue to tweak his medical treatment protocol on a daily basis to make him feel well enough to eat and function. Somedays he doesn’t feel so good and isn’t capable of doing much as we scramble to restore his health.

Our journey with autism has not been an easy one at all. I was pregnant with my second son Eli when my oldest David was diagnosed with autism. Thankfully today Eli is a 15-year-old typical teenager in a mainstream school in Grade 10. He escaped an autism diagnosis. Years later we had a third son, Aaron and at 17 months, autism struck a second time. We experienced the most unimaginable grief when we realized that autism was unfolding again before our eyes. Overwhelmed and afraid we found the courage and strength to battle autism a second time even though the first battle for David’s quality of life was ongoing. When you have watched the ‘David movie’ for 10 years and your baby boy succumbs to the same illness labeled ‘autism’ you know what horror lies ahead. Soon after Aaron too was diagnosed with autism, we dug very, very deep to save him.

It took grit, determination, courage, bravery, hard work, and an unwavering resolve to never give up no matter the odds stacked against us but we beat autism and Aaron completely recovered. This took 4 years of an intensive ABA program and many brave medical decisions to rescue him from the clutches of autism. Today Aaron is in Grade 2 and attends a mainstream school. We celebrate his victory over autism every day of our lives and never take him for granted. Aaron had lost all his words when he regressed into the unreachable world of autism and we had to work very hard to get him back. The autism journey is not an easy one. It’s a marathon, not a sprint and restoring the child’s health and functionality takes time. Although the mission to reverse autism is tricky, it is possible.

Autism is in fact a digestive disorder. It is a metabolic disorder and an auto-immune illness.  Autism affects other body organs besides the brain. It is not a psychiatric disorder and once we start to unravel the underlying causes of autism which include things like food allergies, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, impaired detoxification, inflammation and so on we can reverse autism.  Most parents with autism will agree that their child is a picky eater. Picky eating is indicative of bowel inflammation. Treating the gut-brain connection is also key to restoring the child’s health.  A child who is eating well and sleeping through the night is a child who can learn and develop and catch up their delays. Most doctors will now agree that treating the gut to eradicate autism is key.

By treating the gut flora with probiotics and by eradicating the infiltration of bad gut bacteria and yeast we can treat leaky gut and restore the child’s functionality. Therefore, treating the gut flora in autism is one of the very successful interventions that lead to alleviating the symptoms of autism.

I call on all medical professionals in our country to open their minds to the many new evidence-based medical treatments for autism. The old archaic notion that autism has to be a lifelong disability is outdated and medical professionals recommending psychiatric medication as a first-line treatment for autism need to re-think their treatment strategy.

I wrote my book "Saving My Sons - a Journey With Autism to provide a road map and a way forward for parents whose children have been diagnosed with autism. They are now where I was so many years ago and I wanted to provide them with a road map and a way forward.  I have studied the make-up of autism for 16 years. Like a predator who stalks their prey, I have followed autism. Many days I felt like giving up but being strong was the only choice I had. Today, I still spend hours upon hours delving into the molecular make-up of autism, studying the causes we now know contribute to this medical illness that strip children of the basic skills to function as a human being.  Can you imagine not being able to speak? Not being able to express your wants and needs or to call ‘mommy’ when you afraid and scared or need something.  This is sadly the fate of many autistic children trapped in a physical body that restricts them and holds them hostage.

Mast-cell activation of glial cells, mitochondrial dysfunction, and how to support the methylation cycle have been topics I've pondered over and researched until the wee hours of the morning. Searching for the ultimate cure that will unleash David from the stranglehold of autism that keeps him from us is constantly on my mind as I hold on to hope and faith that someway, somehow we will stumble on his cure. No day will end, no sun will set without us looking for his cure. I know it’s out there.

My message to other parents of children with autism – fight autism and don’t fight each other! There is absolutely nothing to accept about an autism diagnosis. Put on your boxing gloves and empower yourself with information! Autism means game-on not game-over! Don’t let fear and desperation overwhelm you. Focus on discovering and accessing the keys that will unlock limitless possibilities for your child. I recently started a facebook page called: “Autism: Now What?”” to support parents and to provide them with the information they need to never ever give up! (https://www.facebook.com/groups/565501314373978)

 

I invite you to read about my families’ journey with autism. Learn about how we created a new normal even through the deepest darkest days of our lives. The lesson learnt is that through patience, perseverance and determination we can change destiny.  Instead of perceiving a challenge in life as something ‘bad’ we need to rather focus on the opportunity these challenges create for spiritual growth and learning. The ultimate goal is to turn darkness into light.

 

Saving my Sons- A journey with Autism is available at all book stores including:

https://www.loot.co.za/product/ilana-gerschlowitz-saving-my-sons/lpxt-6016-g340

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Cor Coaching

The services that I offer through Cor Coaching focuses on the process of becoming - whether in one-on-one coaching, online self-led development or through group facilitation and training contexts. This process of becoming applies to various outcomes for a diverse set of clients from different contexts. Some examples I have enjoyed working with so far - becoming a better leader in a business, whether it is leading with courage, strategizing and making decisions with clarity or driving a vision of success while inspiring employees, clients and even the industry at large. Becoming confident and motivated in a work or entrepreneurial environment - such as improving work performance and generating better results in sales or in KPI's, or in coping with the shift to self-employment in a way can be self-generating instead of isolating. Other focus areas have been in adults making career shifts or dealing with burnout, in graduates and students in becoming resilient and in finding ways to cope with the stress of studies or the pressures of finding employment, as well as in teenagers as they develop their sense of identity in themselves and the possible directions they want to go in life.
The short course series I have developed is an online self-led learning channel called the Becoming Series. These short courses offer a simple and affordable starting point for self-development through short packaged courses that can be enroled in at any time for a full month's access to do a 15-day course. Following an integral approach to development, the modules offer a sequence of activities to enhance performance, stress management, emotional maturity and self-awareness.
Coming from a previous background in marketing on an executive management level, presentations, pitching, staff training and team building were a regular part of the job. With the coaching stance, I apply this to group training and facilitation contexts that supports the group's individual and collective development - whether on stress management tools, confident communication, showing up in various relational dynamics and other related topics.
I look forward to being of service to you.

Contact Details:
Name of Business Owner: Milena Gevers
Name of Company: Cor Coaching
Area: Cape Town
Province: Western Cape
Phone/Cell Number: 0823255134
Email Address: milena@corcoaching.co.za
Website: www.corcoaching.co.za

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FNB ramps up security for digital transactions ahead of Black Friday

 

As cybercrime continues to be one of the barriers that hinder the growth and potential of e-Commerce activities in South Africa, FNB is rolling out its Online Secure authentication service to all merchants and individual customers to provide an additional layer of security for digital transactions.

Online Secure, widely known as 3D Secure, is the process of authenticating a cardholder during an eCommerce transaction. In line with industry requirements, FNB has upgraded all merchants and card holders to Online Secure authentication to ensure enhanced user experience, security and flexibility.

Effectively FNB customers will now have to authenticate themselves when making online purchases.

Customers previously received a One Time Pin (OTP) via SMS or email when they performed an online purchase. As of 10 November, all customers now receive a push notification on their phone on their verified FNB App to authenticate the purchase.

If the customer does not have the FNB App or does not respond to the FNB App push message to approve their online purchase, they will receive the OTP via SMS, App messaging and by logging onto Online Banking messaging. Receiving OTP via email is being discontinued in line with the bank’s strategy to discontinue communication via this format for safety measures.

Chris Labuschagne, CEO of FNB Card says, “The enhanced security features will go a long way in protecting our customers from potential fraud, more so now that we’ve seen a big migration from our customers to digital channels. The impact of COVID-19 and the lockdown restrictions have encouraged customers to consider convenient and safer ways to manage their lives. In line with our commitment to customer-centricity, we want to ensure that our customers can rely on our trusted platform when making purchases.”

Where FNB is satisfied that the online purchase is secure, customers will not be required to approve their purchase. This will result in fast secure authentication, especially during busy periods like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

In addition, the Bank now allows customers to update their Online Secure contact details via the FNB App. Updating of Online Secure via Online Banking and Call Centre will also be discontinued.

“We encourage customers to opt for convenient and safer ways to shop during Black Friday in line with COVID-19 safety guidelines. More importantly, many local retailers have begun offering Black Friday specials much earlier than usual to improve the shopping experience for consumers. We also encourage customers to use trusted platforms when shopping online and remind everyone to always keep information such as PINs and passwords safe and to only authenticate transactions they have initiated. We remind customers that FNB will never request their private information such as a One Time PIN or their card PIN for any reason.

These updates will further enable customers to complete transactions when shopping online through new payment methods such as digital wallets, QR code and mobile payments from Apps:

Scan to Pay

  1. The cardholder will open up the FNB App
  2. The cardholder will navigate to FNB Pay and select ‘Scan to Pay’
  3. The phone camera will open for the cardholder to scan the QR code on the web page. The cardholder will select which account they want to make the payment from
  4. Cardholder confirms payment

 

Payment request

  1. The cardholder will receive a push notification on their phone from the FNB App
  2. The cardholder will log into the FNB App
  3. Cardholder selects ‘Pay now’. The cardholder will select which account they want to make the payment from
  4. Cardholder confirms payment

 

Online Secure will protect cardholders against unauthorised use of their FNB cards for online purchases, while also protecting e-Commerce businesses against financial losses resulting from online fraud,” says Giuseppe Virgillito, Head of Digital Channels, FNB.

 

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5 Types of loyalty programmes

5 Types of loyalty programmes

Whether you’re paying for accommodation, shopping for food, or clothes, it’s always better when you save money while at it. Loyalty programmes are designed to provide you with a better spending experience through discounted rates, cash backs and other exclusive offers. Rioma Cominelli, Director at First Loyalty Plus, says that people often assume that loyalty programmes all have the same rewards, but no two programmes are identical. “Retailers, banks, restaurants, travel agencies and others offer consumers loyalty cards, but they rarely outline what makes them different from rest. So, consumers generally sign-up without knowing how they will benefit, or how much they need to spend to qualify for certain discounts,” she says.

Rioma adds that there are mainly five loyalty programmes, and consumers should assess which one will work best based on their spending habits. “A great loyalty programme is one that benefits both the consumer and the service provider. People want to know that they are saving and not constantly spending money with little to no rewards,” she says.

Rioma outlines the 5 loyalty programmes available:

1. Point-based loyalty programme: Most South African retailers offer their customers a loyalty card that they can swipe with every purchase. It is by far the most popular programme in the country. It allows you to accumulate points that you can use towards your next purchase or convert them to discounts or cash-backs. This programme usually provides preferential offers on products or experiences, but the benefits differ across programmes, so you need to research which one offers you more savings.

2. Tiered loyalty programme: This programme is similar to the point-based programme. You still need to earn points, but the difference is that you accumulate points to move up a level that carries better rewards than the previous one. The downside of this type of programme is that you usually need to spend sums of money before you can move up a level so you don’t necessarily reap the rewards as quickly as you would on a point-based programme.

3. Partnered loyalty programme: A partnered programme usually involves a consumer purchasing from one brand then reaping the rewards from the partner brand. An example of this is the partnership between travel agencies and properties, or spas. You receive discounted rates on experiences or accommodation when you make a booking through the travel agency. The idea is to provide you with more convenience.

4. Value-based programme: This programme is also known as a mission-based programme, and it allows you to accumulate points or contribute a small amount of your purchase towards a social-cause organisation. A value-based programme lets you make a valuable contribution to an organisation of your choice — whether it be a school, an animal rescue organisation, or a feeding scheme — it all depends on where you’d like your money to go.

5. Paid loyalty programme: Consumers receive immediate benefits like discounted rates, free activities, cash-back and more on a paid programme. This programme is usually very exclusive and involves other partners where you can redeem the available rewards, which means you’re saving on multiple experiences, products or accommodation. The monthly fee is generally very low, and the savings guaranteed and exclusive discounts on holidays, meals, spa deals, movies, cruises, shopping and more often far exceed the monthly fee, making this a very trendy way to get more for a (lot) less!

“Most programmes, if not all loyalty programmes are beneficial and provide savings, convenience and an overall better customer experience. Best yet, you will always walk away with something,” concludes Rioma.

 

About First Loyalty Plus

First Loyalty Plus is South Africa’s best all-round rewards programme that offers Members up to 50% off a host of amazing lifestyle products in addition to giving them an opportunity to earn Rewards which can be redeemed for things like luxury accommodation, spa treatments, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and even an awesome selection of goodies in our online store.

For more information, go to: https://firstloyaltyplus.co.za

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GoDaddy Brings Powerful Visual Content Creation Tools to Websites + Marketing

 

GoDaddy Inc (NYSE: GDDY), the company that empowers everyday entrepreneurs, has announced that the popular content design app Over by GoDaddy, is now integrated with the Websites + Marketing platform. This enables South African GoDaddy customers to easily create impactful visuals right inside of Websites + Marketing, its website builder, and suite of marketing tools.

 

Entrepreneurs and small business owners that use Websites + Marketing now have access to a library of curated, professionally designed photo and video templates that they can customize to make professional ads, branded content, logos, and stunning stories within minutes. Once they’ve created their content, it can be used on social platforms – including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter – as well as websites and email marketing campaigns.

The new content creation tools in Websites + Marketing are easy to use on desktop and mobile devices, enabling customers to create compelling content whenever and wherever they are inspired. Websites + Marketing users can access Over’s library of fonts, graphics, stock imagery, and videos, and templates from their dashboard, and then easily make designs pop using tools like blending, layering, and masking – no experience necessary.

“Over integration in Websites + Marketing makes it easy to create professional-looking, eye-catching content to stand out everywhere online - across social media, email marketing, and your website,” says Selina Bieber, Regional Director at GoDaddy. “This makes Websites + Marketing an even more comprehensive solution, spanning an easy-to-use website builder, a suite of marketing tools, and deep integration with major platforms, including Facebook, Google My Business, and Instagram.”

The new Over features are available to users of all Websites + Marketing tier plans.

 

Over, a beloved app that was recognised by Apple as a “Best 2019 App Trend of the Year,” will continue to operate as a standalone app. It can be downloaded today on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

 

To learn about Over and its integration with Websites + Marketing, read more here.

 

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