Associate Director, Autism Partnership Hong Kong
Why did you join AmCham Hong Kong?
We believe that AmCham can provide better opportunities for us to meet with different industry parties and we can be more connected with the local business community.
Can you tell us a bit about Autism Partnership?
AP Hong Kong opened in 1999. It is the first organization in Hong Kong to specialize in designing professional Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) treatment services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). With a team of over 60 experienced clinical psychologists and Board Certified Behavioural Analysts, we have helped thousands of families.
We also created the Autism Partnership Foundation (APF) as a charitable organization in 2007. APF provides free services to low income families and runs the only primary school in Hong Kong specifically for children with ASD.
How can Applied Behavior Analysis treatments help?
Supported by 50 years of global research, ABA is the most widely recognized and scientifically proven treatment for ASD. Intensive and consistent ABA treatment can effectively improve autistic children’s challenging behaviors such as inattention, aggression, self-stimulation, sensory issues, rigidities and non-compliance.
Can you tell us more about the Aoi Pui School?
Aoi Pui School was established in 2007 and is the first school designed specifically for the needs of moderate to high functioning children with ASD in Hong Kong. It benefits students who may not be quite ready for a full mainstream placement by providing more individual planning to meet their educational, emotional and communication needs. Since 2007, we have in total 113 students studying here, 45 students returned to regular schools in Hong Kong, both local or international school.
About how many children have some sort of autism in Hong Kong?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 68 children has been identified with ASD in the United States. The prevalence of ASD is high and ever-increasing. In Hong Kong, the Education Bureau announced that there are over 4,000 children diagnosed with ASD in 2013-14. The number has more than doubled within four years.
What are some common issues autistic children face in Hong Kong?
Due to limited funding most children with ASD cannot access early intensive ABA programs from a young age, which is the gold standard of treatment widely available in the USA. Many children here also have problems accessing good school placements that fit their ability level.
Can you please tell us the importance of AP having a presence in Hong Kong?
AP has offices all over the globe and these are often not planned. It usually begins from a group of families wanting us to consult to them from overseas. As the number of families grow it often makes sense for us to open offices in that place to provide more efficient and effective services. Hong Kong is our second biggest office.
What were some challenges faced by the organization and the school?
It was a challenge to go through the red tape and process of registering the school but our biggest problem has been the funding available for ABA. While widely funded in other countries, Hong Kong still provides no provision for ABA services. Our creation of the Foundation was one solution to overcome this challenge by raising money for those families that cannot afford it.
What are some things people or businesses can do to help?
Please like the APF Facebook page (facebook.com/APautism) so you can be aware of all the different fundraising activities that go on through the year. We love to partner with businesses and provide lots of great CSR opportunities.