Our Story

The Education and Training Hub for Autism Needs (ETHAN) was founded by Diane Hobbs and her father-in-law Geoff Hobbs. The family’s struggle to get a diagnosis, resources, schools, therapists and persons who understood autism led them to start a non-profit to reach out to and support other families in similar situations.

At an open meeting at the Barnyard, Mossel Bay on 14 May 2014 the name ETHAN (Education and Training Hub for Autism Needs) was born. The name was inspired by two of the meeting member’s children, both were on the autism spectrum and both were named Ethan.

Our organization has been operating since 2011. It started off as Eden Holistic Learning and Development Centre and changed its name to Education and Training Hub for Autism Needs (ETHAN) after the Barnyard Meeting in 2014.

ETHAN has been growing steadily and is making a big contribution towards autism, neurodiversity and disability awareness in the South Cape area.

The Education and Training Hub for Autism Needs (ETHAN) is registered non-profit company (CIPC 2011-009473-08), non-profit organization (227-846 NPO), PBO (930055427) with level 2 B-BBEE status.



To educate and empower autistic individuals, their families and the community.


ETHAN is a non-profit company with the mission of educating and empowering parents, caregivers and autistic individuals and to create an inclusive community who embrace diversity.


ETHAN’s Goals are to: 

  • Provide families with low cost to no cost diagnostic and evaluation services
  • Educate and support autistics and their families
  • Create a pool of trained caregivers, teachers and professionals who can better support autistics
  • Raise awareness and understanding of autism and most importantly to ensure that the community is accepting and inclusive of autistics and neurodiverse individuals
  • Promote the rights of autistics to be treated with dignity and respect
  • Develop core development and educational programmes for autistic children and young adults, and
  • Provide Home Programme Support
  • Make Mossel Bay the first Autism and Disability Friendly Town in Africa

Core Beliefs

Our core belief is STEWARDSHIP.

We see ourselves as custodians and stewards. We are holding and preparing a space for autistics and neurodiverse persons. We have a duty and responsibility to make our world more accepting, safe and inclusive for those amongst us who do not fit in a neat box.

We operate out of a principled leadership paradigm and are governed by a genuine heart of kindness, love and compassion. We look beyond the obvious and see the “ABLE” in each and every person we encounter.

Autistics are our teachers and we listen with open hearts and minds to what they have to say and what their needs are. We are committed to making a difference – one child and one family at a time.

Our second belief is EMPOWERMENT.

We teach the parent, care-giver, family member how to best help and support their child and to optimize their child’s strengths.

Who we serve

Autistics, Neurodiverse, Persons who are nonspeaking, minimally and unreliably speaking and their families and caregivers.


What makes our team unique

  • We are a zany, fun-loving bunch with big hearts
  • We believe “knowledge is power” and our aim is to empower parents and family members by providing various educational opportunities so that they can make informed decisions about how to effectively support their autistic loved one,
  • We know that there is a shortage of specialist knowledge and skills – we source the best programmes and interventions locally and globally and train a local pool of individuals so that they can assist and support autistic individuals and their families,
  • We provide fun activities and events for autistic individuals that is mindful of their unique needs and sensitivities,
  • We provide a support network so that families can connect and share in a safe and non-judgemental space,
  • Through our autism acceptance campaigns we aim at creating a more inclusive local community – where autistic people are accepted – just as they are.

DIane Hobbs

Director / CEO

Liza Marais-Vlok


Geoff Hobbs


Ethan Hobbs

Board Member Advisor - Autism

Amanda Bester

Board Member Advisor - Visual Impairments

Louw-let Fourie

Programme Manager

Hybrie Meyer

Occupational Therapist

Herchell Theys

Admin Support

Shireen Losper

Admin Support

Chané Belstead

Therapy Support

Tinkie Boucher

Project Support

Dr Hetta van Niekerk

Consulting Educational Psychologist

From left to right: Shireen Losper (Office Support), Tannie Tinkie (Our Biggest Supporter and Loyal Volunteer), Louw-let Fourie (Office Manager), Amanda Bester (Board Member – Disability Advisor) and Odie (Guide Dog), Diane Hobbs (Director), Liza Marais-Vlok (Director), Herchell Theys (Admin Support)

Diane Hobbs (Director) and Ethan Hobbs (Board Member, Autistic Advisor, Human Advocate)

Hybrie Meyer (Occupational Therapist, Training Support)

Chané Belstead (Therapy and Parent Support)