Autistic learner pass matric with bachelor’s and distinction

Proud mom, Melanie Heldsinger and sister Natasha Landers

Proud mom, Melanie Heldsinger and sister Natasha Landers

Published Jan 22, 2024


Cape Town - There were tears and joy on Friday when an autistic learner from Cathkin High School received top marks by passing his matric with a bachelor’s pass and distinction.

Edward Heldsinger, 18, from Heideveld was diagnosed with Autism in Grade 8 at Cathkin High School, however, he appeared in the Daily Voice on October 27, 2023 when he scooped nine certificates at his valedictory ceremony and obtained the third-highest marks of all the matric learners, and was also given the principal’s award.

Proud mom, Melanie, 54 said the family is still overjoyed as they all escorted him to get his results.

“It is overwhelming, I still can’t believe it. When we went to get his results, we didn’t know what to expect. Edward was sick that morning and I had to get some medication, but encouraged him that it was just nerves.”

“When Edward opened his report, we started crying. He asked us why are we crying? He couldn’t understand our emotions because a bachelor’s pass and a distinction is more than we expected.”

Melanie was required to get a letter from the hospital which stated that he is autistic so that he could get extra time during his exams, he got 10 minutes for every hour.

Edward obtained above 50% for all his subjects and 80% for business studies. He has been assisting his sister Natasha Landers with admin at Manenberg police station for the past two months.

A chilled Edward said that his marks came as a surprise to him as well. “I feel OK. The exams were different, when I wrote my first paper which was English I felt a bit nervous because I expected the examiners to give me lower marks. I thought maybe they will mark things wrong due to my bad handwriting.

“Over time I felt more confident. My advice to anyone is that you can do anything if you put your mind to it and go through life with a positive attitude, otherwise you will go through life with no energy. The support of family is also important.”

His sister added: “I am extremely proud of Edward. He has shown the world that if someone like himself can do it, so can all others. What you put in is what you will get out. I hope Edward will make a success whether it’s to study or get a job. He really wants to work and earn his own money.”

Edward is still undecided on a career path but has enrolled with the Chrysalis Academy and he will be going for his learner’s soon.