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Effective treatment is far more important 2021-12-21

Special Child Care Centres (SCCCs) can be regarded as a lifesaver for many parents of children with autism. Most parents hope for receiving appropriate support at these centres. Lok’s mother also helped Lok enroll in a SCCC with such expectations, but later found out it did not help her son a lot. She was hit hard by the reality and deeply realised that although support from the government is important, effective treatment is indeed the most important element for her child.

Lok had a language delay. He seemed to have no play skills and seldom interacted with his classmates. Lok only followed the instructions given by the teachers he liked and often refused to cooperate with others. Lok’s mother felt that the SCCC could not help much, “The school rarely communicated with parents. The teachers also couldn’t handle Lok’s behavioural problems. I didn’t see any progress.”

Lok’s mother discovered that studying at a SCCC was not the only way out, so she looked for other ways or services for her son. At that time, Lok had difficulties in reading and writing. The mother made teaching materials and taught the son by herself. She later heard about APF and applied its one-month ABA treatment for Lok. Lok improved significantly, so she applied its “Learning Buddies” programme afterwards. When she heard the news of Lok passing the screening of the programme, she said she was as happy as winning the lottery.

When Lok joined the “Learning Buddies” programme, it was changed to online mode due to the pandemic. Lok’s mother said her son’s progress was better than what she expected, “Lok didn’t understand questions with ‘who’ before. He has learnt to include the persons involved in a sentence when describing and asking questions with ‘who’. He has also been able to understand different social situations without picture prompts. Even his speech therapist was surprised by his improvement.”

Apart from improving Lok’s social and communication skills, the therapist also helped solve Lok’s eating problems. The mother shared, “Lok ate very slowly in the past. He would eat while watching videos or need me to feed him. The therapist suggested that I should use separate bowls to hold food and set a timer to count his eating time. After a period of training, Lok has been able to eat fast and independently. It’s amazing!”

Lok’s mother realised that the government’s support is far from meeting the actual needs of children with autism. She is grateful for the effective treatment which has helped Lok behave like other children of the same age. She said, “I used to think that a school place of a SCCC was a destination. But Lok instead needed more training, as he couldn’t apply what he had learnt from school. He’s more compliant and polite after receiving ABA treatment. I can see that he has improved and can apply the skills in different settings now.”

On the graduation day, APF’s therapists took photos with Lok’s mother and Lok, and wished Lok can make more new friends who like playing card games as he does and continue to enjoy the time playing with others.

Lok’s mother was invited to share her perspective on ASD and ABA services with Autism Partnership Foundation (operating in Hong Kong) (APF, HK). Lok is a past beneficiary of APF, HK.