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Learnt to regulate emotions for better family relations 2021-07-23

Many children with autism have weak emotional self-regulation skills. Alma, who has autism, would scold people when things did not go the way she had anticipated. She could not recognise people’s emotions either. All these made Alma’s mother worried. The daughter improved a lot after receiving one-month one on one intensive ABA treatment. Alma’s changes made her mother feel confident in ABA treatment. The mother therefore enrolled in the “Learning Buddies” programme (ABA social skills group training) for her daughter, hoping Alma to further improve her expression and emotional regulation skills.

In “Learning Buddies”, the therapists taught Alma to understand the emotions of herself and others, and to express her emotions and communicate with others appropriately. Her language, emotional regulation and expression skills have been enhanced greatly. Alma’s mother shared, “In the past, Alma would call his dad ’stupid’, imitate others to say ’hit you to death’, and even found it funny to say so. But now, Alma uses more emotion words when expressing herself, such as ’angry’ and ’unhappy’. She would even notice my emotions and take the initiative to care about me. She once said, ’Mom, don’t be angry.’ I felt surprised and warmhearted.”

Alma has also interacted more with others. When Alma and her little brother were sleeping together, she would put him to bed by patting him. Alma played with her peers more harmoniously than she used to. “Alma and her friends played separately in the past. She is now willing to invite others to play together and follow game rules as well, so they have fewer conflicts. Besides, she can finally call out some of her friends’ names.”

Alma’s mother was grateful for the therapists’ efforts. “The learning goals prepared by the therapists suited Alma. They also discussed with me about her learning progress regularly. I used to be always softhearted that I over-indulged Alma’s behavioural problems. The therapists suggested that I should use rewards and be firm with Alma to help her build good behaviours. I agree with these methods.”

Unfortunately, the pandemic broke out and face-to-face training was once replaced by online training. Alma’s mother felt very upset, “Alma’s improvement is very valuable. I think online training is not as effective as face-to-face training.” APF totally agrees with Alma’s mother that we all want to seize every training opportunity for children. APF would base on actual pandemic situation to decide whether providing face-to-face or online training, allowing children in need to continue receiving face-to-face training under a safe condition.

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