AP Stories: Love and hope overcoming all circumstances
It brought her tears and struggles every time when her family criticized her decision making but her hope in AP and Ken grew larger when she saw visible improvement from Ken in just a couple of months. Now Ken can go out with Mrs. Lam alone without any disruptive behavior.
Although Ken may sometimes disturb others on the street, and criticism is still heard from others, Mrs. Lam is still positive and brave. She finds ways to deal with all the circumstances and Ken is gradually able to integrate into the society. Our Senior Behavioral Therapist, Samantha Mak, chatted with this great mother and shared her story here, encouraging every of us to be positive and loving.
- When was Ken diagnosed with ASD and what deficits did he have?
My son, Ken, was diagnosed with ASD in December 2014. His deficits were first noticed by his Kindergarten teacher. At school, he did not listen to teacher’s instruction nor followed any routine at school. He showed no interest to his teachers nor his fellow classmates. Furthermore, he had anxiety at his school environment; he couldn’t sleep at nap time and would disturb other students. He seldom shared with me his school time stories. All these signs have concerned me enormously and his teacher suggested me to bring him to different hospitals in Guangzhou (GZ) for assessment.
- Did you aware of Ken’s problem at the first place?
No, not at all, since we didn’t have any other similar aged children in our family to compare with. Furthermore, Ken did not have much repetitive behavior as most ASD children do. Also, he was able to initiate for toileting and had good manner in public (e.g. throw garbage after eating).
- How did you feel when Ken was confirmed to be diagnosed with ASD?
I actually did not realize how serious Ken’s condition was until the meeting with Raymond (Behavioral consultant in AP) at the JumpStarts program. I then realized Ken had extreme low motivation in learning and nothing interested him, which made him very slow at learning. Fortunately, Raymond has tried out different methods to help him. When a method did not work, Raymond would evaluate again and adjust the teaching methods. Also, Raymond developed various reinforcements with Ken so that he would become more attentive to the tasks.
- How did you know about AP and what made you decided to come to AP?
We have tried different services in Mainland China, however, Ken did not have much improvement. He still could not follow teachers’ instructions in class and had no motivation in cooperating in any training activities. More shockingly, he has learnt more disruptive behavior, such as hitting and biting others. I had little hope on treatment in China since then and was very worried about Ken’s future.
Then, I was told from a school staff to attend an ABA training workshop held by Autism Partnership at Ken’s special school in Guangzhou. After the workshop, I knew ABA was the treatment for Ken, so I enrolled Ken to a Jumpstarts program for 2 weeks in AP Hong Kong. During these two weeks, our behavioral consultant, Raymond developed reinforcement programs with Ken to build up his interest at objects and games. Before, Ken would not listen to me during activity times, and to cater this problem, Raymond developed various sets of activities to train Ken’s cooperativeness. Now, Ken can cooperate with me very well. Instead of the generalized training that the other centers are providing, Raymond tackled Ken’s unique problems specifically and dealt with them one by one.
- Residing in a new city is a big challenge, what made you decided to bring our son alone to Hong Kong?
After having attending the 2-week JumpStarts program, Raymond designed a long term individual educational plan (IEP) for Ken. Back in Guangzhou, I delivered the training to Ken in the morning and teachers of his special school provided the training in the afternoon. However, teachers in GZ did not have enough skills or techniques to execute the plan. The performance of Ken has regressed significantly. I could not do whole day training alone with Ken, so after the discussion with my husband, I decided to stay in Hong Kong with Ken for training.
- How long has Ken been trained in AP and what progress has he made?
Ken has received ABA therapy in AP nearly a year. After half a year of training, Ken already able to use his language to express his requests. For example, before, he would just run away and grab what he wanted. Now, he will say “I want candy.” and stay with me nicely. His disruptive behaviors are visibly less since he can now use more language.
In addition, Ken’s attention span has increased significantly. Before, he could only read out one flash card and would completely lose his interest after that. But now, he can read up to 10 flashcards and can complete tasks without troubles.
Recently, AP therapists have developed Ken’s interest in watching videos and this is extremely helpful. Before, he could not play alone and I couldn’t be out of his sight for long, otherwise Ken would start yelling and hurting himself to catch my attention. Now, he can self-entertain when I am busy; he won’t hurt himself or break anything when he is alone. I am very happy with this.
- What is the biggest progress of Ken? How does Clara (Ken’s Behavioral Consultant) help you?
Ken has improved a lot and the biggest progress of Ken was that he can now control his disruptive behavior and I can finally go out with him alone. Before training at AP, I could not handle his behavior by myself. He would throw tantrum, flop on the floor or run away, and I always needed to bring him out with my family so we could better monitor Ken.
I am very grateful of Clara solving this issue for us, since this has been affecting our life quality greatly. Clara has put herself in my shoes and catered this problem as priority. Clara further provided parents training with me, and now I can go to different places with Ken after school and he can walk alone nicely!
- What do you think about our service?
The therapists in AP are very professional in helping the students and their family with their individual needs. Comparing with the organization in China, I think AP’s consultants and therapists have more knowledges and skillful techniques to deal with Ken’s disruptive behavior.
For instance, Ken had tendency of grabbing teacher’s glasses. Teachers in Guangzhou would give him a lot of attention to stop him since they didn’t understand the purpose of such behavior. However, in AP, therapists would analyze the reason behind Ken’s behavior, which was to seek negative attention, and therefore would give him minimum attention so the disruptive behavior would be reduced.
- What is your future plan?
I hope we can soon find a suitable school for Ken.
Let’s see Ken’s progress in AP.