Meet Emile Gouws, one of the speakers at our upcoming annual Jozi4Autism Walk at the Johannesburg Zoo. Emile is an adult autist with a Master’s degree specialising in autism, currently pursuing his PhD. He is also a member of the Autism South Africa National Executive Committee (NEC).
I was diagnosed with ASD at the age from the age of three and a half years. Early intervention occurred whereby I received speech, occupational therapy, and behavior therapy. From a very young age my parents exposed me to different environments where my sensory sensitivity was stimulated. I experienced challenges on cognitive, emotional, social and physical levels.
I was enrolled in a mainstream primary and Remedial High school. When I matriculated my overall average for all my subjects was 70.2%, and I obtained University exemption. My school career had peaked, and my marks were excellent. After lengthy discussions about further education my parents decided to stretch me again, and enrolled me at the Groenkloof campus of Pretoria University. I stayed in the resident for two years and completed my Bed degree I four years (Bachelors in education) as well as my Honors degree in learning support within one year. I completed my Masters degree last year whereby I specialized in Autism Spectrum Disorder. My study was an auto-ethnographic study on my personal life experiences as an Individual on the Autism Spectrum and how the assistance of additional support helped me to achieve my goals.
I am currently a first year PhD student where I will share my experiences as a student on the Autism Spectrum in a structured environment such as Tersier institutions (Universities). The initial aim of this study is to improve facilities in University and in public schools so that the sensory needs of a child on the ASD spectrum are accommodated. My Main aim is to become an ASD specialist so that I can assist parents with children and children on the ASD spectrum.