Aoi Pui School – Path to Teach Students with ASD (Part 1)
Interviewee: Abbie Chan (APS Senior Classroom Program Supervisor)
1. What is your role in Aoi Pui School (APS)?My current role in APS is a Senior Classroom Program Supervisor and I have been working in the APS family for eight years since 2009. My main duties include establishing guidelines of Individualized Education Program (IEP) and setting learning target for individual students on their behavioural, conversational, social and academic performance. I am also in charge of supervising teachers, monitoring daily classroom operation, scheduling regular meetings with parents to report students’ progress and determining goals for our students. I also provide individual ABA therapy services after school hours and organize parents training when needed. Reporting to the Principal and discussing ideas with other supervisors are also parts of my regular duties.
2. Have you received any training before becoming a Program Supervisor?I have first received training on Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) Therapy in Autism Partnership (AP) as a Behaviour Therapist. I have then joined APS and started my career as a teacher teaching children with ASD, while continued applying the ABA skills I have learned in AP.
3.How do the teaching methods of teachers differ from APS and typical special schools?With the application of the behaviour therapy skills, we thoroughly analyse students’ individual needs and set customized target goals for each students. To equip students with the desired skills, we often divide their learning goals into different small steps and provide assistance at appropriate time. This systematic approach helps students to improve their skills in behaviour, language, social, academic and related areas. APS is specially catered for children with ASD. We offer individualized education programs and maintain a high teacher to student ratio to help students to learn best.
4.What impress you the most while working in APS? Have you faced any difficulties?Every new student is a new challenge to me. Although children with ASD have some common characteristics, but each student has their own strengths and weaknesses.
There is a girl who left me the most memorable experience. When first arrived APS, she often lost her temper when she failed to communicate with others. She got very emotional when someone misunderstood her words. Therefore, when designing her curriculum in communication, we first focused on expanding her vocabulary, then we worked on strengthening the diversity of content when she communicates with others. For instance, we taught her applying ordinal words like “first”, “then” and “last” to describe orders of events. Applying conjunctions to help organize and enrich her sentence structures. We also trained her on controlling her emotions when someone misread her thoughts.
Another memorable experience is that during our visit at an elderly care center, a student boy could apply the communication technique he learnt effectively. He chatted with the elderly patiently and responded appropriately. Everyone praised him for his politeness.
5. According to your experience, what learning difficulties do children with ASD often encounter in school?In school, the challenges they confront include attention deficit during group learning, inappropriate behaviours and emotions, lack of motivation in learning, ignoring teachers’ instructions and more.
6.How do you help students with learning difficulties?We design individualized behavioural system to cope with students’ behaviour and emotion issues. Through applying reinforcement and incentive, we encourage students to behave appropriately and follow instructions. We will focus on students’ cognitive ability first if they cannot understand the meaning of instructions, then increase their participation through interesting activities.
7.How can parents help their children to adapt to school life?IEP meetings are held three times a year. Through the collaboration with parents and teachers, parents are able to take a closer look at their children’s progress and improvement, and help students to uncover their potentials and strengths. During school breaks, students are asked to record their daily activity and share with their schoolmates. This helps in training and improving their communication and public speaking skills. These diaries also help teachers to learn more about students’ daily lives and changes.
8.How do you help students in integrating into the community?Community training is an integral part of our curriculum, it allows students to learn appropriate rules and etiquette in the community. Students would be given the opportunity to rehearse before applying skills learnt outside the classroom.
There are monthly outings, such as visiting flower markets and elderly care centres. These activities help to facilitate the generalization of skills outside school. Through their first-hand experiences in the community, students get to apply the knowledge they have learnt at school.
9.What expectation do you have from your students?I hope my students can be more motivated to learn, to participate and able to learn more skills and knowledge from us. Apart from helping my students to transfer to mainstream schools, I hope they are able to integrate into the community and can work well in workplace and live independently.
10.Some parents are concerned that there may be insufficient opportunities for children to develop social skills as APS is catered for children with ASD and runs in small classes. Is it true?Generally, our teacher to student ratio is 1:2 or 1:3, however, we will flexibly adjust the number of students per group based on students’ abilities at their current stages. For example, we will establish a “Girls Club” for the female students of the different grades. Students have to work with students from different classrooms for certain group projects.
Furthermore, APS regularly organizes large-scale group activities, such as Sports Day and interclass competitions. All these activities encourage students to communicate and support each other to complete assigned tasks and reach their goals.
11.What would you like to say to the parents of APS?I’m really blessed to be part of the APS family and be able to use my ABA skills to teach and help students with ASD. Throughout the years of my teaching career, I have met different parents and understood the stress they had for their children not be able to receive any effective therapy treatment. I am honoured to be the role of a teacher and a supporter, and to gain support and trust from every parent. The most rewarding experiences are accompanying the growth and witnessing the remarkable improvement of every child in APS.
Learn more about APS from the the interview of Ronald Tin (APS Curriculum Leader).
Info provided by Abbie Chan, APS Senior Classroom Program Supervisor
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