What does it Take for Children with Autism to Succeed in School?

School is challenging for students with autism because it requires a lot more than academic skills to be successful.


Behavioural and emotional management, and learning how to learn skills

are essential if they are going to learn anything effectively and efficiently.


Social communication skill

is the pre-requisite for participating in lesson activities and learning through working with their peers in teams and group projects.


Social and leisure skill

is the key to developing friendships and having an enjoyable school life.


Independence skill

for example, personal hygiene and school routine, is one of the criteria many schools use to decide if a student is ready for school.

Besides, these skills are not learned incidentally by children with autism as they are by neurotypical children because of their difficulties in social communication and interaction, their restricted interest and their lack of motivation.

In AP School, we use the Autism Partnership Method to help our students who are diagnosed with autism to overcome these challenges and develop essential skills for school success. It is a unique style of using Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) which values making the lessons fun and natural, providing a high level of individualisation, making clinical judgments and working with the whole child.

Autism spectrum disorder is currently the fastest-growing developmental disorder. With the rapid increase in the number of students who are identified with autism, more teachers support students with autism in their classrooms now than ever. As the only primary school for students with autism in Hong Kong, it is our mission to promote effective teaching practices not only within our school but also in the field of autism education. We are committed to research about effective teaching practices, and present the findings in peer-review journals and conferences. For example, last year, we researched about teaching communication skills within academic lessons (Cheung, Lai, Cihon, Leaf & Mountjoy, 2020). The result showed that all of the participants acquired the individualized communicative responses as well as the academic targets.

AP Schools’ publications include:

  1. Cheung, Y., Schulze, K. A., Leaf, J. B., & Rudrud, E. (2016). Teaching community skills to two young children with autism using a digital self-managed activity schedule. Exceptionality, 24(4), 241-250.
  2. Au, A. H. C., Mountjoy, T. J., Man, K. L. P., Leaf, J. B., Leaf, R. B., Taubman, M., & McEachin, J. (2015). A programmatic description of an international private behaviourally orientated autism school. Education and Treatment of Children, 38(1), 121-144.
  3. Cheung, Y., Lai, C. O. Y., Cihon, J. H., Leaf, J. B., & Mountjoy, T. (2020). Establishing Requesting with Children Diagnosed with Autism Using Embedded Instruction in the Context of Academic Activities. Journal of Behavioral Education, 1-16.

In AP Autism Awareness Summit 2021, I will show you the Autism Partnership Method in Action through videos of using this method in teaching essential skills in the primary school setting.


Information provided by:

Yvonne Cheung, M.S. ABA, BCBA, Behavioral Consultant
Yvonne is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). She holds a master degree in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) from St. Cloud State University, United States. And she is currently a Doctor of Education candidate at The University of Bristol, United Kingdom. Yvonne has 15 years experience working with children and adolescents with autism in one-on-one, group and school settings in Hong Kong and Singapore. She has extensive experience training behavior therapists, teachers and parents, and consulting schools locally and overseas. She has also conducted research on ABA-based intervention for students with ASD, published in peer-reviewed journal and presented in international conferences. Currently, Yvonne is the Behavioural Consultant of AP School and the Director of Research of Autism Partnership Foundation Hong Kong.

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