April 16, 2019

Threads For Autism

WorksGroup donated Chef Gear to the Johannesburg School for Autism’s Vocational and Education Training phase.

The Johannesburg School for Autism, which was founded in the early 1930s, provides educational, therapeutic as well as social services for 320 learners diagnosed with Autism. The School is an official Resource Centre for Autism in Gauteng and is one of the largest government schools in the country to cater for learners with Autism.

To inspire the learners, Chef Steven Billingham and Chef Sizwe Cebekhulu, from HTA School of Culinary Art, were invited to educate the learners about the industry, while also having fun demonstrating the art of fruit carving.

The school’s mission is to develop practical skills for the learners by exposing them to a range of activities that they can use as adults once they leave the program. In view of their multi-model approach to assisting learners with Autism, they use food preparation as a technique to develop a variety of skills that can be used in the foodservice industry; primarily having their very own coffee shop. The learners are trained to take orders from customers, prepare meals, as well as deliver them to customers in the building.

There are a number of steps the learners go through in order to develop and familiarise themselves with the process. The first step begins in class, as the learners learn about different foods. They are then involved in the shopping experience where they select items in a store. By doing so, the learners are taught the concept of paying for these items, which does not come naturally to all of those with autism. The learners then prepare each item, washing, cleaning, peeling and chopping; and eventually reaching the final stage in which they follow a visual recipe before presenting and delivering the meal.

The school is now seeking opportunities for some of their learners to generalize and practice their skills of food preparation in an environment outside of school. The learners will be accompanied and supervised by a staff member, who would assist in the off-site training.

Autism is often perceived as bizarre, with socially inappropriate behaviour being a common attribute. The school is hopeful that through opportunities and partnerships, the awareness around autism will grow and learners will be able to integrate back into their communities, thereby reducing social isolation and stigma.

Should you be interested or wish to receive more information, you can contact the VET field co-coordinator, Ms Lauren Potgieter below:

Lauren Potgieter

Email: peachlolli@hotmail.com

Tel: 011 484 9608


For chef uniform requirements, you can contact WorksGroup below:


Email:  culinary@worksgroup.co.za

Tel: 011 053 4700