Kai Le's Mum SharingTwo of my children are children with special needs. My elder son encountered neonatal cerebral hypoxia which affected his brain functioning. Since young, we notice that his development progress was slower than children in his age. And he appeared to be very active (i.e. excessive running, falling down frequently) and inattentive. During his 6 years in primary school, he could not complete school work and catch up with the school’s syllabus. The mother of one of his classmates encouraged me to seek professional help from A Zon Educare Advisory. After a few months of intervention, my son was less active. He could pay attention, write and read after 3 years of intervention in A Zon. Although his academic performance is not as good as his friends, his self-care skills, self-control ability and attention are adequate. Now, he is a 14-year-old teenager who is enjoying his school life in a mainstream school.

My daughter is 9 years old and she has been receiving intervention in A Zon 2 years ago. My daughter was born prematurely and her development was slower than children at her age. Since she started to walk at the age of 2, she appeared overly active (much more active than her elder brother). Her doctor claimed that she showed symptoms of autism on top of her hyperactivity. We were very upset. No kindergarten was willing to accept her due to her disabilities (i.e. difficulty to communicate and hyperactivity). We brought her to A Zon for intervention. We could see that she was less active after a few months of intervention. She started to communicate with us; there was great improvement in her understanding, verbal expression, and learning ability. I insisted to bring her for intervention, even travelling by bus for her sessions. When she entered Primary 1, nobody believed that she had never attended kindergarten and everyone was amazed by her learning performance.

Besides my children’s improvement, I personally learn to drive for the sake of my children. I’m thankful for all the effort and help from Ms. Lee Li Li and other teachers in A Zon. I really appreciate their help extended to children with learning difficulties and their family.

Words for other parents…

I hope parents could seek for professional help and guidance. I once met a grandmother who brought her grandson to school. The grandson was uncontrollable (i.e. attacked others, not able to follow instruction). I shared my experience with her and encouraged her to seek for professional help. Unfortunately, the grandmother claimed that being a teacher herself, she could manage the grandson without any professional help. People, especially the older generation, often look for traditional guidance (i.e. family teaching, spiritual help, etc.) than for professional help. I’m glad that my husband and I insisted to get professional psychological help for my children. We are really grateful for our children’s improvement.

Interviewee: Kai Le's Mum

Emily's Mum SharingMy daughter, Emily, was about 4 year-old and was supposed to go to school happily as other children. However, after attending school for some time, the principal of the kindergarten complained to me that Emily would often take off her clothes in school, or would spin on the floor, running around in school and would not give any response when her name was being called. I was very shocked and helpless after listening to all these complaints. At home, she would not do anything assigned by the principal, and was generally quiet. When I was told by another parent that Emily was really behaving in this way in school, I was really fearful and worried. I tried asking the people around me, but all of them would only reassure me that my child was still young and things would get better when she grows up.

When I was searching for solutions, I cried almost everyday. I felt fearful and helpless. My parents also could not help with Emily’s problem. She would not speak; at the same time, I did not know whether she could understand what has been told to her. We did not have much interaction. Most of the time, she would just play by herself. During this period, I beat her quite frequently because I had no other ways to control her behavior. In recalling these episodes, I really felt ashamed of what I have done to her.

During the most helpless time, I came across Ms Lee Li Li’s (Consulting Psychologist) column in a magazine, sharing information on child’s development disorders and learning difficulties. At that time, I was hoping to give it a try and contacted A Zon Educare Advisory. Then, I actively scheduled consultation session with Ms. Lee Li Li. During the consultation session, I learned that Emily has developmental delay and hyperactivity problem. Ms. Lee suggested intervention program for my child. Initially, I let Emily attend the program once a week. A month later, I increased it to twice a week after being advised by Ms Lee. On the other hand, the principal of her kindergarten requested not to let Emily to participate in the school concert and orientation. I guessed the school has no idea how to deal with Emily’s problems or perhaps was worried that other parents might complain. At that moment, my heart was really hurt and I thought: “My child is not abnormal; why can’t she participate in the concert with the other children?” I then decided to change school for Emily.

After two to three months of intervention programs, I began to notice improvement in Emily. She was more willing to go to her grandma’s house. Before this, she would only burst into tears. Gradually, she could also follow me to my friends’ house as well. After transferring to the new school and attending programs in A Zon for six months, Emily stopped running around, started to talk and was able to provide simple verbal responses. My child’s behavior and self-control have slowly improved; at the same time, her concentration and communication skills have shown progress too. In the second half of her 5th year and approaching her 6th year, I began to worry about her learning ability. This was because she still did not know how to write and could not spell during her tests. Teachers of A Zon would always give professional intervention classes diligently. I often worked on the teacher’s homework preparation with Emily so that she can have more practice at home.

In the first half of Emily’s 6th year, I began to notice her significant progress. She can write her name in both Mandarin and English. From getting one correct answer in spelling test, she slowly increased to two, then to three ...... until one day, she could get all her spelling correct! Although I did not expect her to know all, I am really grateful and pleased with her progress. In addition, her communication with us and with others keeps improving. Unlike last time, now she seldom gives irrelevant responses. Emily will go to elementary school next year. I am very grateful that I found A Zon and the other kindergarten during this hard time. A Zon has provided help and improved Emily’s learning abilities, such as concentration skill, self-control skill, communication skill, learning skills, etc.

Words for other parents…

Previously, I was very afraid to let others know that my child has problem because I was unable to accept the fact that my child needs such special attention. However, whether our child is good or bad, it totally depends on whether parents are willing to “take the first step”. If you find that your child is encountering problem, you need to seek for professional assistance as soon as possible; consult a psychologist or related professionals. Be sure not to miss the prime time for early intervention, which is from 3 years old to 5 years old.

Sometimes, we may take this matter lightly because of the comforting words from others, and thus ignore the child’s problems and his or her need for help. Therefore, I would like to encourage parents who have the same experience as mine, to not ‘save face’ at the expense of the child's need for professional help. If you choose to seek help from professionals, the role of parents is also very important. Be sure to cooperate and be attuned to the arrangements of teachers and also to give your child additional training at home at the same time.

Interviewee: Emily's Mum

Sean's Mum SharingI didn’t expect Sean’s attention problem could be severe until I’d met his ex-kindergarten principal. When she asked about Sean, one of the top achievers in her kindergarten back then, I told her that Sean was actually struggling with his study. She then recommended us to get professional opinion from a psychologist. This is how I got to know about A Zon Educare Advisory.

The principal’s suggestion heightened my concern over Sean. I realized Sean has very short attention span and it affects his learning abilities in school. For instance, he couldn’t finish copying notes from the blackboard or from friends. He has difficulty in completing homework, worse, he couldn’t complete exam questions on time. Moreover, his hand writing is terrible. Other than attention problem, Sean is very impulsive and particularly obsessed with electronic stuff like a remote controller. He likes to touch these electronic gadgets whenever he comes across them, without asking for permission. I believe that these learning and behavioural difficulties have affected his academic performance and eventually, has a negative impact on his self-esteem.

After consultation with the psychologist in A Zon, we knew that Sean’s problems are mainly due to his inattention and his poor self-control. We decided to enroll him in the intervention program. After the third month of intervention, we started to notice improvement in Sean in terms of controlling himself, and in his attention span. He has demonstrated better manners and self-confidence. For example, he is more receptive of other’s comments and explanation. He shows effort to write better. He doesn’t give up easily on any tasks given whether at home or in school. With intervention and good guidance by A Zon’s instructors, he is more settled, shows better manners, seeks permission before taking/touching other people’s belongings. Sean is improving and developing well after joining the intervention programme.

Along the way, we as parents have also learnt to change. I’ve learnt to understand my child more. Knowing that scolding won’t help my children to improve, I have to change my parenting style to a more encouraging one. I’m trying my best to change my attitude, and control my temper as well. And now, I’m glad that I’ve started to discover and appreciate Sean’s strengths and good nature instead of his weaknesses. Not only is Sean is changing, but the whole family dynamic is changing at the same time! I know that it’s kind of late to provide Sean with suitable intervention (as he is already 9 years old), but I would will keep on trying in order to help Sean to improve. It is always not too late to put a child in an intervention programme till we see improvement in him and we know that we have made the right decision.
 
Words for other parents…

Every child has the potential to change and improve. Parents have to keep on trying and not give up in finding suitable intervention or programs. It doesn’t mean that children with special needs can’t make it in life. I would like to share with all parents, not to blame children for their difficulties and weaknesses. If they could choose, they wouldn’t want to be like that (i.e. naughty, lazy, and not able to learn). Early intervention and help will be more effective to help our children to improve.

Interviewee: Sean's Mum