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“Learning Buddies” programme stories 2021-12-31

 【Dining out】

Dining out is very common to most people. Yet, some children with autism may have different problems, dining out can be a big challenge to their families. On this day, our therapist prepared a menu and a set of play food and did a role play as a waiter. The buddies played the role of customers and learnt to wait outside the restaurant, ordering and having meals.

After the buddies were seated, they chose food from the menu. Since each dish only had one serving, they had to consider others’ preferences and communicate with the buddies accordingly. They then discussed and took turns to order. After a while, the dishes were served. A buddy asked another buddy who ordered a pizza, “May I have a slice of pizza?” Everyone was willing to share their food. Through the simulation training, all buddies learnt more about dining out, as well as how to communicate and share with their peers.

【Twister】

The epidemic situation has gradually stabilised. We resumed some face-to-face training sessions at an earlier time. Our buddies were finally back! The buddies stayed at home for a long time and did not get enough exercise. Our therapists therefore arranged a twister game to train the buddies’ physical coordination ability and enhance their social interactions. “Be quick!” Ho kept urging Marcus to spin the spinner and longed for his turn, so that he could adjust his position and take a rest. The performance of Ho and Marcus was impressive. They kept maintaining their postures even though they were both tired. Both buddies showed really great perseverance from the game. It is really admirable!

【Emotion Matching Game】

On this day, the buddies played the “Emotion Matching Game” together to learn recognising and expressing emotions, so as to enhance their social skills. Buddies had to turn over two cards that were correctly matched to get points. Matching was too easy for them. The therapists therefore challenged them to identify the emotion that the card represented. The buddies also acted out different actions motivated by different emotions, such as frowning and clenching their fists in anger. They tried their best to do facial expressions even with their masks on!

【Blow painting】

Buddies usually draw simple patterns and colour their drawings, our therapists therefore arranged a special art lesson for the Buddies to “blow” unique paintings. The theme for this painting was “flowers”. The therapists prepared the line draft and asked the Buddies to colour the vase first, then the highlight of the painting came. The therapists added paint drops on papers. The Buddies blew through the straw at the paint drops and spread the paint to create spooky looking branches! They were blowing hard and more branches appeared. Finally, they made flowers on the branches with their fingertips. The artworks were finished successfully.

【Cup stacking】 

“Ding!” The Buddies were in a cup stacking competition. One Buddy was the host who revealed question cards. The other two Buddies had to quickly stack the cups according to the colours and positions of the cups displayed on the card. The host was responsible for checking the cups. The first one got it right would be the winner! This game encourages observation skills and quick responses of the game participants, and also trains the host to lead the game. The observation skills of the Buddies were quite good. Whenever the host revealed a question card, the Buddies quickly stacked the cups accordingly and rang the bell. They all were excellent cup stackers!

【Graduation】 

Four Buddies graduated! The Buddies had joined the “Learning Buddies” programme and experienced both face-to-face and online training during the pandemic. We could still remember that the Buddies played alone in the beginning of the training, but they have built deeper and stronger friendships and enjoy playing social games together now. These achievements were indeed valuable. At the graduation ceremony, all of us were surprised and touched by receiving the thank you frames and cards from the Buddies’ parents. We would definitely miss them a lot and we wish all the Buddies can make more new friends confidently in the future.

Lok, Hin, Eden, Him, Ho Marcus, Ming, Chung, Tsz Fung, Fung, Kyle, Hong, Carson and Sin Ka were invited to present their perspective as an educational opportunity for addressing the awareness of ASD and the importance of early-intervention. Lok, Hin, Eden, Him, Ho, Marcus, Ming, Chung, Tsz Fung, Fung, Kyle, Hong and Carson are past beneficiaries at Autism Partnership Foundation (operating in Hong Kong) (APF, HK), Sin Ka is a current beneficiary of APF, HK.