SPOTlight Story

Hi, my name is Kerry Wallace, I am an Occupational Therapist and the founder of SPOTlight Trust SA. I’ve had a wonderful fulfilling career, and thanks to my wonderful family have been many given opportunities to extend myself and I’d always wanted to give back in some way. I started SPOTlight Trust SA with the aim of providing therapeutic services to children from underpriviledged communities in SA.

I attended the second Sensory Integration Training course in South Africa in 1983 and left inspired by Judy Kimball, a US based OT. This experience sparked my quest to learn from world leaders in my chosen field. I was a member of SAISI from its inception and once I had completed my SI training was invited to be part of the protocol marking team and finally Head of Edcom, having taken on roles in lecturing and training OT’s.

In the early 2000’s, I was gifted a group of very challenging pre-schoolers by my colleague Kate Bailey who was taking some time out of clinical practice. These children clearly had severe sensory processing challenges, but the level of their emotional dysregulation was off the charts, and many of them went on to receive a diagnosis of ASD. I needed more tools in my toolbox, and in the process of exploring psychodynamic approaches to treatment, I came across Stanley Greenspan, his model of DIR and Floortime. I read everything I could lay my hands on, and purchased 10 DIR:Floortime videos for the SAISI library. I started to implement some of the principles in my clinical work and felt that I was on the right track, but needed more information.

Due to my husband taking up a new job opportunity, we moved to cape Town, where I met Peggy Schnaps who had some exposure to Floortime while working in the USA. At that stage it was prohibitively expensive to train in Floortime, as it necessitated attending annual training forum in Washington DC at the ICDL Institute. Meg Faure, a colleague of mine attended one of these events and came back very inspired by Rosemary White an OT who was part of the faculty. I contacted Rosemary and invited her to come to SA to present DIR:Floortime in Cape Town in October 2010. It was a mind shift, to learn about DIR through an OT lens. Her message was loud and clear. The best way to learn DIR is to work under a mentor and receive supervision. She suggested that we attend a summer camp in Seattle. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but an incredble learning experience. To cut a long story short, Stanley Greenspan passed away in early 2011, and his partner Serena Wieder was given funding to start Profectum Foundation by Cuong Do, a Vitnamese immigrant, to the US who had been given the opportunity to study economics through scholarships. He is also the parent of a child with ASD.

Rosemary White arranged for me to meet Cuong Do, who was in Johannesburg on business in 2012. At this meeting he told me that he had decided that he wanted to pay it forward, by investing his life’s savings in setting up Profectum. He was therefore keen to set up sattelites in other countries, but there was one proviso. The sattelites had to be non-profit organisations. I told him that I already had established a non-profit, and that providing Introductory DIR training could be part of SPOTlight Trust SA. He then told me that in line with Profectum’s mission to provide world class training for the adult caregivers of children with neurodevelopmental disorders throughout the world, South African’s would be able to access Profectum’s training courses at deeply discounted rates. He committed to enabling us to access Profectum’s courses for a third of what our first world colleagues have to pay. I left the meeting thrilled to have met this incredibly generous visionary and to start the process of the training arm of my fledgling NPO.