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A conversation with teachers at saigonchildren’s free early intervention classes.

date_range2021-04-23

Founded in 2019 from the funds raised through THE STEPS CHALLENGE 2019, saigonchildren’s free early intervention class has supported more than 41 children with autism in disadvantaged circumstances, and organized over 15 training sessions for more than 1000 teachers and parents with children with autism.  

After 2 years of operation, many children in the program have shown improvements and have acquired many social skills through one-on-one early intervention classes with the participation of their parents. One child has now enrolled in 1st grade, can say long phrases, can introduce themself, and voice their dreams. Part of the success is due to the dedication and patience of two of saigonchildren’s early intervention specialists for children with autism 

Today, let’s chat with them and find out more about their work, as well as some information about autism!  

 

saigonchildren: According to you, what are some warning signs of autism?  

Miss Hien:

  • Does not know how to laugh out loud, or show any other expressions of happiness or interest, at 6 months old
  • Does not respond to sounds, smiles, or facial expressions at 9 months old
  • Does not babble at 12 months old
  • Does not know how to speak single syllables at 16 months old
  • Does not know how to naturally say two-syllable words (not a repetition) at 24 months old 
  • Does not pay attention to other people’s voices at 24 months old  
  • Does not make eye contact or look at other people’s faces at 24 months old  
  • Does not express interest in other children at 24 months old
  • Does not know how to imitate/mimic those around them at 24 months old 
  • Loss of language and social skills at any age 

saigonchildren: According to you, when is the earliest time a child can be diagnosed?  

Miss Hien: According to the DSM-V, Autism is a disorder whose symptoms will be present during the early stages of development. Thus, the earlier you get a diagnosis the better because early identification will allow for a more scientific method of intervention to be adopted 

 

saigonchildren: Can you share some of your daily tasks – what working as saigonchildren’s early intervention specialist for children with autism entails? 

Miss Ngan: Our main job every day is to welcome parents, check the work from the previous week, and guide the parents on each specific new goal for the current week.  

Then, we will guide the parents at the intervention room by modeling the objective, then observing the parents’ practice and making adjustments for them.  

 

saigonchildren: How do teachers for children with autism differ from teachers in a traditional academic environment? 

Miss Hien: Sometimes teachers of children with autism have to teach them everything, down to things that seem like basic instinct for a child – like sitting on a chair, how to play with a toy, how to go to the toilet by themselves, self-service such as eating with a spoon, drinking water from a cup, …  

saigonchildren: What do you think intervention specialists or teachers for children with autism should pay attention to most?  

Miss Ngan: The first thing to keep in mind for me is to come to an agreement between the parents’ expectations and the child’s ability level, to avoid parents and children falling into a state of stress or disappointmentThe journey with children with autism is a very long one, therefore, aside from love and patience, the children also need tolerance in order to better themselves day by day. 

 

saigonchildren: As teachers, what support do you need (from families, society)?  

Miss Ngan: These children were born at a disadvantage compared to other children – it’s an unlucky thing that no one wishes for themself. We all hope that there will be more safe spaces and financial support for the children, so that they can play freely and explore the world. We hope thatschools and society will become moreunderstandingand empatheticof thedifficulties children with autism face, so that they can have more opportunities to integrate and develop themselves in the best way possible. 

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