Of every 100,000 children in Hong Kong, 372 suffer from autism. Autism Spectrum Disorder or autism affects an individual’s nervous system and causes developmental delays. This condition varies in severity in each case, and symptoms mostly consist of recurring body movements, odd fascination towards certain things and trouble speaking and interacting with others. Left unattended, autism in adulthood often results in loss of employment and difficulty focusing in school. The Aoi Pui School, Autism Partnership and Heep Hong Society are all addressing autism in Hong Kong and improving lives by helping children integrate into ordinary schools and teaching vital work skills.
Aoi Pui School
Researchers who wanted to provide quality education to children with autism in Hong Kong founded Aoi Pui School (APS) in 2007. More specifically, the institution teaches fundamental work skills to its students. Every student at APS enrolls in a program that educates the children about professional competence. In the program, students learn about the importance of maintaining a positive work ethic, approaching work with enthusiasm, comprehending the responsibilities and knowing the privileges.
The Autism Partnership (AP) came to Hong Kong in 1999 and strives to offer effective treatment to children with autism. AP works towards integrating autistic children into mainstream schools and society. It offers two programs called The Buddies and i-Club to encourage autistic children to develop their social skills. The Buddies program targets first, second and third graders and educates the students on how to maintain relationships with their peers. The i-Club program focuses on children heading to middle school and teaches the children how to calm down, control their feelings, consider the point of view of others, establish relationships, respectfully play with others and start dialogues.
AP also helps children successfully join mainstream schools. First, an AP employee sets up a specific plan with the institution. Then, AP educates counselors at the school about the child’s particular case. Next, the organization checks on the success of the student and changes the child’s plan when problems arise. Lastly, the student relies less on the counselors and navigates school individually.
Heep Hong Society
Since 1963, Heep Hong Society strives to improve the lives of minors with disabilities and different backgrounds. In particular, the organization assists older autistic children in obtaining and retaining jobs. First, the Heep Hong Society gives personal guidance to each adolescent. In the one-on-one discussions, the organization discovers the young adult’s passions, talents and attributes to help connect the students with dream jobs and assist them in issues regarding socialization, studying and employment. Also, the Heep Hong Society works with local companies to secure jobs and scholarships for its students.
All in all, Aoi Pui School, Autism Partnership and Heep Hong Society strive to help children with autism in Hong Kong enroll in mainstream schools and obtain employment. With the help of these organizations, autistic youth can retain independence and live above the poverty line.
– Samantha Rodriguez