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Behind the Breakthroughs


Sep 12, 2018

In this episode we follow a mother’s journey with autism while living in the United States and then moving to South Africa. She talks about her son’s diagnosis, her diagnosis with cancer, and her Visa not getting renewed as fuel to provide a better life for her son.

Meet Caz Collins, a mother, therapist, businesswoman, and advocate. When doctors told her she would never travel again because her son had autism, Caz traveled the next day. While living in the US Caz realized Autism does not discriminate and she wanted her son to have the same opportunities in South Africa as he did in the US. Her tenacity for life has allowed her to open and run a successful behavioral therapy business in South Africa. She also started the Blue and You Autism Run which is the first Autism Awareness Run in South Africa. Over the years Caz has lived a selflessly and has not only provided a better life for her son, but other children who have been diagnosed with autism as well.

IN THIS EPISODE:

  • This we chat with Caz Collins. She is a mother, a therapist, and a businesswoman.
  • She is the owner of Breakthrough Interventions in South Africa.
  • At 15 months Caz started to notice that her son wasn’t talking as much as he used too and he wasn’t connecting to others.
  • Doctors said, “Well he’s a boy they typically develop later.”
  • Caz lived in West Africa and worked for humanitarian organization where her son attended school.
  • The school said her son was aggressive, was not making friends, not talking, and keeping to himself.
  • She thought it was normal because of a language barrier.
  • Her family moved to the United States and they still saw those challenges.
  • She went to a check-up and doctors said her son needed a speech assessment. At the assessment he was referred to have a full psychological assessment. At the assessment her son was diagnosed with autism.
  • The doctor said, “Mrs. Collins your son has autism and you will never travel again.”
  • Caz thought to herself… we are actually leaving the next day.
  • Her family life was spontaneous and so was her work and the children would have to travel, that was their norm.
  • What the doctor said did not compute with Caz. They were going to carry on.
  • She thought… No one tells Caz, “ No.” She always figures out a way.
  • In West Africa and there was no help, there were no resources and she didn’t know how to assist her son. Google became her best friend.
  • She came back to US after 6 months and found out she had cancer.
  • Due to her cancer she couldn’t continue work in South Africa because she needed treatment.
  • Malachi her son needed intervention and that is when she met Dr. Nunez.  
  • After years of working with Dr. Nunez, their Visas expired and Caz and her family had to move back to South Africa.
  • Malachi was 8 years old. There were no services or no schools for him to go to.
  • A friend said, “Caz, South Africa is about 20 years behind America.”
  • Caz thought, it can’t be. I will not save up money and have Malachi go into an institution.
  • She couldn’t accept that because she had already seen progress with her son and she couldn’t stop there.  
  • At a birthday party someone said to her “There is something wrong with your child.” That was Caz’s fuel to do something in South Africa and to start Breakthrough Interventions SA.
  • Nunez trained Caz and she went on to get her Masters.
  • Over the years Caz’s business has grown.
  • Caz trusted her instincts. She is now working with over 30 children with a waiting list of about 20 kids.
  • She raised money to get a facility with 6 therapy rooms.
  • 85% of her clients are mainstreamed. Those are parents who have started intervention early and ignored what the doctors had to say.
  • Two years ago Caz started the Blue and You Autism Fun Run. To educate people about autism.
  • In addition Caz linked up with the iAccept Campaign which is part of their run. The “iAccept Autism” Campaign helps build autism awareness and acceptance.
  • The first year 300 people attended.
  • This year they doubled their attendance and next year they are expecting 1500 people to attend.
  • Currently, they are registering the run as a non-profit organization.
  • The goal is to raise money for a center. Behavioral therapy is not covered by health insurance so if you have money you can afford it. If you can’t there’s nothing you can do.
  • Caz wants to open a center in which all children have access to behavioral therapy.
  • Things have opened up for Caz in ways she didn’t plan.
  • The next thing that comes in front of her, she just does it! A true inspiration to all. 

Mindshift (takeaways)

  1. Allow yourself to cry. Your experience and heartache as a mother is real so allow yourself to go through emotions.
  2. God made your child so accept him/her for who they are.
  3. YOU have to be the active person for your child and take the steps to find the right help. Trust your feelings and intuition through this process.