Caring hands for children

July 2, 2018

Kindergartener Emmett Cheung is a happy little boy with a positive outlook but he used to be emotionally unstable.


He was diagnosed with developmental delay when he was three years old.


His parents received phone calls from his school regularly.


"During that period I received a call from the school nearly every day, saying Emmett was involved in all kinds of different problems," his mother Cheung Chan Lai-man said.


She was reluctant to sign him up for extra school activities as he had difficulty communicating and interacting with other children and would lose his temper easily.


"I knew I could not control his temper. I knew the ages between two and six were the best time to train him, so we applied for early training. But the social worker told us we need to wait for at least a year and a half. I was worried he would miss this prime training period."


She then discovered Emmett's school took part in the On-site Pre-school Rehabilitation Services pilot scheme where therapists from non-governmental organisations go to schools to train children with special educational needs.


Early intervention

Under the scheme, multidisciplinary teams visit kindergartens to provide services to children with special needs.


The teams comprise occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech therapists, psychologists, social workers and childcare workers.


A team from the Heep Hong Society began training Emmett at his Baptist Pui Li School when he was in K2.


The therapists teach him social and communication skills by playing board games and assess his situation twice a year with teachers.


Heep Hong Society Regional Manager Flora Mok said the on-site service allows children to be trained in a familiar environment.


"When our professional teams work with kindergarten teachers to observe the children at schools, they can make a better assessment. The children also feel comfortable if they are trained during lessons at their schools."


Therapists also advise and provide training to kindergarten teachers and childcare workers to help them look after children with special needs.


Baptist Pui Li School Principal Yung Hau-heung said the special teams reduce the pressure teachers face.


"When we teach the students the same way they do, the effect is doubled. The special-education-needs students can then be less emotional during lessons and our teachers will also be less stressed."


Recognising the importance of early intervention for children with special educational needs, the Government will regularise the pilot scheme for the On-site Preschool Rehabilitation Services in the 2018-19 academic year.


Positive transformation

The service is supplemented with training at centres with rehabilitation facilities for children who require other special assistance, such as motor training.


Emmett attends one of the centres for muscle training once a week. Occupational therapists there help him improve his jumping, running and climbing abilities with various physical activities.


His mother said Emmett, now in K3, has transformed into a different person after receiving training from the scheme for nearly two academic years.


"He is no longer a kid with a bad temper, he is a cheerful and positive boy.


"He can take care of himself and even got a merit award last year thanks to the therapists and teachers from school.


"The scheme brought them to work together which helped my son greatly. I am pleased the scheme will be regularised and it will help a lot of kids and their parents."


The Social Welfare Department launched the pilot scheme for the On-site Preschool Rehabilitation Services in 2015, which cut the waiting list of more than 6,000 children waiting for training by almost half.


The scheme will be regularised in the 2018-19 academic year and the number of service places will increase from 3,000 to 7,000 within two years to achieve a zero-waiting time policy objective for pre-school rehabilitation services.

Back to top