APF’s Group Training Program: Learning Buddies

“Learning Buddies” Programme was launched in May 2018. Children with autism who have fulfilled the admission criteria will receive 6-month to 1 year group training. Adopting ABA treatment method, the programme will provide a simulating environment of a kindergarten classroom to train the children to adapt to the regular mainstream school life. Our therapists will provide systematic training according to the needs of the children, aim to build up their own strengths, eliminate behavioural problems, and develop confidence in themselves to prepare them for school. As time progressed, our behavioural supervisor will modify the children’s individual learning plan according to their progress and also closely contact with their parents and arrange lesson observation to deepen their understanding of their child’s learning progress.

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Learning corner in the classroom with various circular shape graphic.

Every class in the “Learning Buddies” programme is designed by our therapists. Content includes artwork, gaming, role play, story-telling, music and etc. The therapists make use of different content and teaching materials to train the buddies, allowing them to learn under a fun environment. For example, the buddies create palm flowers during the Mother’s Day, make dumplings with paper when Tuen Ng Festival is approaching. During the lesson, our therapists apply ABA to train their skills in social, expressive, listening and directing, to help them to adapt to school life.

A period after the “Learning Buddies” programme has launched, we have interviewed some parents on their thoughts about the program.

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Our therapist played Twister with PM group buddies to enhance their skills in following instructions.

The parents have all previously joined the 1 to 1 ABA training in APF, hence they felt confident in APF’s services and in this “Learning Buddies” programme. Some of their kids could not get along well with their classmates; while some were unable to keep up with the activities in kindergarten, and some could not communicate with their peers. Therefore, the parents hope this program could enhance their child’s social skills, with a view to help them in adapting kindergarten and group life.

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Our therapist updated Kit’s mother (left) on his progress frequently.
“Kit will sing songs that he has learnt in APF. He is obviously happier than before at home and I am excited to see that’, Kit’s mother stated.
With the efforts of the therapist team, the program managed to live up to the parents’ expectations. During the one month training, parents expressed that the buddies showed huge improvements in various aspects.

Ming’s mother said, “Ming speaks more now, before he only knew to repeat words from others, now he can understand and respond to some basic social questions and make conversation with people.” Another parent, Yu mother, told us Yu is speaking clearer than before. She used to say one sentence only, now she can use multiple sentences to express herself.

Selin’s mother also told us Selin’s teacher noticed that Selin has become more cheerful at school and can get along with classmates better than before. Selin used to take away things without permission, but in APF she learnt to ask and understood the possibility of being rejected.

Ranon’s mother also shared that Ranon learnt to ask first, which is an important social skill as well. All mothers felt happy to see their child’s improvements.

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Pak’s mother finished parent observation session, she admired our therapists’ hard work a lot.
Pak’s mother said, ‘His ability to follow instructions has improved. He has sped up his actions without my command. His teachers also said he has spoken louder and clearer lately”.
The buddies showed impressive improvements after attending treatments for a few months only; their positive changes are huge encouragement for both the APF team and the child’s parents. Apart from the improvements of the buddies, changes are seen within the parents. The buddies’ parents become familiar with one another with frequent interactions. They share opinions on parenting, have breakfast together after dropping their kids to class and even buy extra of the same item for the other buddy when shopping.

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Therapists and AM group buddies celebrated Kit’s birthday together and sang him a birthday song.

APF team is delighted to be able to create a chance for parents to understand and support each other. Not only do the kids need support, but also their families and caretakers. APF team will keep striving for more comprehensive service to support children with autism and their families.

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APF Introduction & Background

APF is a registered charitable organisation in Hong Kong. APF has been committed to making a difference in the lives of children with autism and their families through a variety of initiatives, including ABA treatments, education programmes and publications. In 2007, we set up the AP School (APS). It is a primary school which adopts ABA for teaching children with ASD and, offers both academic and autism-specific curriculums. Starting from 2016, we have established the Parents Resources Centre to provide one-month intensive ABA therapy to children with ASD from low-income families. We also regularly organise training courses and workshops for parents, helping them to handle and improve the behavioural problems of their children.

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