Life is like a drama and the unexpected can lie just around any corner. To be thankful for or to be frightened of what will happen, will depend largely on your attitude.Mrs. Lam, who already has raised 2 healthy and energetic daughters, did not expect that her third daughter Hengyu would succumb to ASD. She felt distressed and blamed herself, questioning if it was the diet she had during pregnancy, or her neglect of Hengyu’s needs, was the cause of this disorder.
Fortunately, Hengyu’s special needs were identified in early phase and received timely effective treatment from Autism Partnership Foundation (APF). Hengyu’s mother express gratefully:
“At first, I didn’t expect much from the service, and I’ve never expected Hengyu could achieve such leap-forward development in APF. I am thankful to APF of their helping hands. I hope children who are facing the same problem as Hengyu can also receive this effective therapy.”Let’s see our interview with Hengyu’s mother below:
01) When did you notice the “differences” in Hengyu?Actually I didn’t notice her “differences” straightaway, since Hengyu is the third child in our family, the focus I put on her was fairly little. When she was at 7 months old, she could say “Dad” and “Mom”. It seemed all fine for us.
It was when she was at 14 months old, she did not respond to our interactions, worse still, she was looking off elsewhere when I was talking to her. Once, my second daughter broke out in a rash, I had no choice but to ask my mom to take care of Hengyu for a certain period of time. Then, my mom started noticing her “difference” and suspected that Hengyu may have language delay or hearing problem since she did not give any response to her. She urged us to have a checkup or an accessment for Hengyu.
02) When was she diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and started receiving treatment?We then went to a health center to seek medical consultation. The nurse said that we were fortunate enough to discover her special needs at an early age. The nurse then arranged us for the assessment and we have waited for a year, by the time Hengyu was confirmed to be diagnosed with ASD, she was 2 years and 3 months old. At that time, I felt helpless and did not know what the next step should be.
03) Did the doctor provide any suggestion to you? What treatment did she receive?The doctor introduced us to several kinds of therapies. I wanted to emphasize her language skill the most so I consulted different speech therapies. Sadly, the treatments were either too expensive or the waiting lists were too long.
Meanwhile, I’ve consulted the services from Heep Hong Society, and I enrolled Hengyu to a pre-nursery class, a parent-child playgroup, a sensory integration therapy class as well as a music therapy class. In fact, I had no knowledge about the treatments I enrolled, I just wanted to try all of them to see the outcome.
During those months, we received different treatments from several centers but I felt like the outcome was not evident. She still exhibited behavioral problems during class. She cried when the lessons started, and I needed to bring her out to calm down. Hardly could she go through the whole lesson.
04)How did you know about the service of APF?After having completed the various therapy classes, Hengyu needed to ready for kindergarten. To be frank, I was afraid that our applications to schools would be rejected. However, the social worker encouraged me to speak frankly about Hengyu’s condition to schools. If the school was able to provide on-site services, Hengyu could be trained at school. And I am truly grateful that the school accepted our application and Hengyu was also offered with training at school.
It was around that time my friend introduced me the free ABA training service of APF and I gave it a try. Very soon a staff from APF contacted me about Hengyu’s situation. Then APF arranged the first service for her in October.
05)From noticing Hengyu’s differences, accessing her condition and receiving treatment to entering school, how these experiences affected you?In large extent, my emotion was strongly influenced because I felt sad and kept asking myself why my third kid has to suffer and whether I have eaten any inappropriate food during pregnancy as Hengyu’s sisters do not have ASD. I was stressed out and frustrated. The treatments are expensive and I was worried that her condition would not be ameliorated. Fortunately, we figured out her needs in earlier phase so she is more likely to catch up with peers.
06)Can you share explicitly which aspect of Hengyu was most worrying? And, what was improvement after she received treatment from APF?I was really worried about her language development because she did not know how to speak before coming to APF. I have heard from other parents and teachers that some kids still cannot speak at 4 or 5 years old. I was concerned that she would not have language ability after growing up. The principal did not agree that we should suspend her study to have one-month training in APF because the effectiveness may be insignificant.
However, I persisted. Surprisingly, HengYu said “bread” to me after the third day of training. Before that, she could only speak baby-words which I did not even understand. After one week training, when we went to the park, she came over and told me that she wanted to have some bread and water. Not only with those single words would she proactively start conversation. She was proactive and responsive when she played with her sisters. Her social interaction improved a lot, of example, she understood more about sister’s instruction and teaching, had more eye contact and learnt how to use gestures to express her thought. In the last lesson, we were informed by teacher that her cognitive skill has greatly improved. She learnt different vocabularies and could use them.
On the first few days of returning school, teachers were excited to see her improvement and she was able to name different objects at school as well as had meal by herself without teacher’s help. After one month training, her self-care skills were improved a lot and she could greet others under my guidance. I think that training from APF is effective and I am glad because not only I noticed her improvements, even the school teachers also praised her progress.
07)Given Hengyu’s improvement, can you share how it positively affects the communication among family members?Of course, all of us are happy because she interacts with us more. We are living with grandma, and grandma is so excited that Hengyu can address her. She can also address her sisters and they enjoy fmgfteaching her and going to school with her.
08)Is there anything that you would like to say to APF’s teachers?I am thankful to Quincy and Joanna because they were patient to teach Hengyu. They designed many activities and games to teach her so that she could have such improvement. I am also grateful to all APF’s staff and this organisation. If there was no APF’s training, she would not have achieved so much. I am greatly grateful for the help APF has provided. My friends could also notice Hengyu’s improvement and I shared APF’s service to them as well.
I wish other kids who are in need can receive this treatment too. Through my experience and sharing, I hope more kind-hearted people are willing to donate money in order to let more kids to receive proper treatment. As we know, the resource of government is not enough, one may probably wait for 2 years to access the service. As parents, we are definitely devastated because we know this is the prime period which children cannot miss.
09)Lastly, as you previously shared that you held the idea of “Giving a try” so as to let Hengyu receive APF’s training. After one month’s training, what is your feeling and feedback regarding our service?Your service is excellent, and the treatment is effective. Not only did you train the kids but also held difference activities for parents and kids, and talks for parents in order to mollify our stress. After one month training, there is also follow-up service. I hope there will be more chance for kids to interact with peers in future group activities.
Info provided by Samantha Mak, Senior Behavioral Therapist
Ms Samantha Mak obtained her Degree and Honor Degree in University of Southern Queensland, major in psychology. She has joined AP since 2010 as a behavioral therapist(one-on-one and Jumpstarts program) and a shadow teacher in the mainstream school. Moreover, she has over 5 years of experiences in working in social group and providing parent training. Aside designing and planning learning phases and activities for students, she is also experience in providing training to junior staffs in AP and interns from university under supervision. She receives direct training with Dr. Angel Au, Clinical Psychologist.
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8. 你有甚麼說話想和愛培的老師說嗎?我很感謝Quincy 和Joanna，她們真的很用心教導倖如，用不同活動和遊戲教她，她才會有這般大的進步。我很感激所有愛培職員和這機構，若沒有這訓練，她不會有這些進步，我也很感恩愛培給了我女兒這個機會。
資訊提供: 麥心明 (Autism Partnership資深行為治療師)
麥心明小姐擁有澳洲南昆士蘭大學學士及榮譽學士學位(University of Southern Queensland)，主修心理學。她於2010加入AP，負責一對一治療、躍進課程及提供影子老師服務及參與家長培訓工作坊。除了在社交小組提供治療及參與家長培訓，她亦會為學生計劃及編寫訓練學習階段，提供有效學習。 她亦會設計課堂活動和協助培訓治療師及實習生。她現時為高級行為治療師，並接受臨床心理學家Dr. Angel Au的培訓。