Perspective: Growing in Confidence
Every child is unique and deserves the opportunity to live and enjoy a fulfilling life. International China Concern (ICC) is fortunate to have the chance to work with children with special needs – all loved and cherished by special education teachers who devote their skills to unlocking potential.
Teaching According to Interest and Ability
Xixi is a clever girl whose lovely and gentle smile melts your heart. Although she has cerebral palsy that affects many aspects of her life, including mobility and communication with others, she has not ceased to impress me with her perseverance and ability to learn.
When I first became Xixi’s teacher about a year ago, I was uncertain about what would be best for her. Because every child’s condition and needs are different, all the special education teachers at ICC make an individual education plan for each student according to their interests and abilities. Therapy principles are also integrated into the class, for example in adapting things for a child’s disability, such as provision of special communication equipments or postural adaptations to aid participation.
Xixi’s Favourite Class
Xixi is an enthusiastic learner. At the beginning of each class, I make sure she is sitting properly because her body posture tends to tilt due to cerebral palsy. I appreciate the effort she has put into this and her posture has shown much improvement.
In my initial lesson plan, my goal was to teach her one pinyin and one Chinese character per month. However, Xixi’s learning ability in this area has exceeded my expectations. We therefore doubled our progress and she has already learned 24 pinyin and characters.
Although Xixi cannot speak, she learns the pinyin and characters by heart. She can always “answer” teacher Shen’s questions by making the right choice.
The computer is a great learning tool and it is Xixi’s favourite subject because it allows her to choose and control what she wants to do. After several years of training, adaptation and practice, Xixi became so familiar with basic computer operation that we gave her a special mouse which allows her to select the content that she wants to explore.
Xixi learning maths with the aid of a special “trackball” mouse that gives her better handling.
Art and Music Appreciation
Besides individual tuition, Xixi also enjoys attending group art and music classes. The best part of the art class for her is choosing colours. It has taken her about three years to learn to identify red, yellow and white – which have also become the most popular colours in her drawings. Xixi’s fine motor skills are limited by her condition but she can still paint with the teacher holding her hands.
Xixi (left, in pink jacket) has enjoyed painting since she was younger.
In the music group class, Xixi is one of the most enthusiastic participants even though she can only make some non-verbal sounds. The class usually includes learning and choosing songs, as well as playing instruments. When I teach the children to sing a new song, Xixi always listens attentively with her eyes wide open and her little mouth moving and attempting to sing along.
Whenever I ask who wants to choose a song, Xixi will be the first one to raise her hand. She gets very excited when her name is called. I will then bring her out in front of the class and let her select an instrument for everyone to play. Although Xixi cannot grasp things firmly, she tries hard and savours every moment of the group music time. Sometimes, when the instrument falls out of her hand, she will just laugh and make a funny face before starting over when I hand it back to her.
My understanding and relationship with Xixi deepens as time goes by. She has inspired me, surprised me and we have shared many touching moments. It is such a joy to watch her growing day by day, learning new things and enjoying the pleasure of art and music.
Xixi enjoys some exercise and stretching time with other sisters in the care centre.