The Establishment of AP School
Since 2007, Autism Partnership Foundation (APF) has carried out school services to meet the learning needs of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and to assist them in their studies by using Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) approach. In order to provide appropriate and high-quality education services, we have expanded our service scale and established AP School, a self-financed elementary school registered under the Education Bureau for children with ASD.
A highly inclusive and individualised curriculum
The Principal of AP school, Ms. Abbie Chan, shared the belief, “We believe that children with ASD can reach their fullest potential through effective teaching methods, like AP Method.”
The curriculum of AP school is student-oriented. Our clinical team assesses every student admitted to the school and designs a personalised study plan in accordance with their abilities. Beside ordinary academic subjects, an autism-specific curriculum, such as behaviour & emotional regulation, communication skills, social skills, self-help skills etc., is also included in their learning objectives. “It is vital for students to apply knowledge and skills flexibly in their daily lives,” said Abbie. However, most of the students with ASD encounter difficulties in generalising and applying techniques in real practice. In this regard, AP School focuses on the curriculum design for enhancing students’ ability to generalisation. For instance, once students have learnt the concept of money in a Mathematics lesson, they will be guided to adopt it in a simulated environment set up in a classroom, and then to visit the community for real practice. We also arrange different community activities for students every month to broaden their horizons, and to facilitate them to generalise their skills.
AP School caters both Cantonese and English-speaking students and runs in small classes with approximately eight to ten students in each class, with a high teacher-student ratio of 1:2. With such a ratio, study groups with different number of students can be formed flexibly according to their mastery of knowledge to provide proper and sufficient support. Abbie also shared some examples—students who do not have a good command of Mathematics will be assigned in pairs, while grouping students who are ready to study in mainstream schools in a larger class as conformation. The teaching team will also assist other students to further prepare for transferring to mainstream schools. Abbie added that studying in large groups requires extra concentration since there are more distractions compared with small groups, “Beside concentrating in class and regulating their behaviours and emotions, students should be independent, equip with self-help and problem-solving skills to handle school affairs. Living in peer groups, social skills play an important role as well.” Therefore, setting all-rounded and highly individualised learning goals for students with ASD can effectively enhance their learning skills and explore their potential while leading them to seek their interests.
In addition, Abbie made expectant remarks to students, “May all of the students take the initiative to learn, the flexibility to apply, the skills to communicate, the courage to try, and the faith to integrate into the community. I sincerely hope that all students will learn proactively and apply the skills they learnt to daily practices. I expect them to overcome their communication difficulties, enjoy social relationship, willing to try new things courageously, break through limitations, integrate into society, live an independent and fruitful life.”
Our Teaching Approach — AP Method
APF was founded by Dr. Ronald Leaf, Dr. John McEachin and Mr. Toby Mountjoy. Since 1970, Dr. Leaf and Dr. McEachin have started their research on ASD, and conducted the “UCLA Young Autism Project”. In 1994, they established Autism Partnership (AP) in the United States, which is one of the pioneering organisations that provide ABA treatment for children with ASD. Based on years of clinical experience, AP has developed a unique treatment method—Autism Partnership Method (APM). It is a holistic and highly personalised teaching approach for children with ASD, systematic yet flexible, with a focus on “in-the-moment analysis” and “clinical judgement”. It provides a child-friendly, inclusive, and highly individualised teaching model of intensive intervention for children with ASD. AP school also adopts APM to help students learn effectively and naturally.
I am proud when I am writing this piece of sharing…
Starting from 2007, APF has been providing educational services by diversified approaches at different locations. The establishment of AP School in Kowloon Bay in summer 2022 is definitely a significant milestone to our Organisation, it also marks our further commitment in serving children with ASD at their time studying in this brand-new primary school. I believe students of AP School would have lots of happy and memorable moments there.
“Setting up of AP School” is not a smooth project – uncertainties brought by waves of COVID-19 are definitely out of our control while limited timeframe is another big challenge. This amazing output can be successfully created in eight months is a miracle brought by all devoted parties. I must thank you for the support from partners who have made valuable contributions to our new school, we cannot make this project done on time without their efforts. My sincere Thank You also goes to our management & marketing staff, school administration & clinical teams and all other supporting colleagues. I can see a strong team spirit in previous months which are also priceless – let’s keep it on!
Founder and Chairperson of Autism Partnership Foundation