Many parents of young children question if their child may have special needs. This is then followed by the key question: What is a special need? And if a child does have one or more special needs, where can the family go for services and support in Hong Kong?
Thankfully, the Hong Kong government has created a website (see www.sen.org.hk) where resources and support are made available. While all conditions are different, it is considered that any child who needs extra aid in adapting to the learning environment is considered as having Special Educational Needs (SEN). Little Steps has created this guide where you as a parent can be better informed in finding the right international school or other institutions designed to help special needs children of different ages and abilities.
If you wish to get an assessment or are unsure whether your child has special educational needs, go to the Social Resources Guide, there you will get a better idea of what your child needs.
For those looking for classes in Hong Kong – here are a few goodies!
International schools have selective admission policies for children with special needs, and only some schools provide supplemental services for students with mild special learning needs. Therefore SEN students are admitted when their individual needs can be met through the amount and particular type of support that each individual school provides. Over the past few years, additional International schools have started admitting students with special needs.
These include the following schools:
1. ESF (English Schools Foundation): ESF students with special educational needs have three broad options based upon identification using the ESF Levels of Adjustment (LOA) Framework. Students can be provided with Mainstream Placement with Additional Support, where the child is given additional support when needed. Learning Support where children are included in mainstream classes with additional support from specialist SEN teachers and educational assistants. Or the Jockey Club Sarah Roe School, where students whose special educational needs require the most extensive teaching and learning adjustments are catered for.
2. The Harbour School: They offer individual or small-group classes to learners who have been identified with specific learning disorders in academic areas. Their Learning Support program supports students who are struggling for any reason or who need a little extra support. This ranges from catching up in English as it may be a second or even third language to providing an optimized environment for a student with a specific learning impairment.
3. Hong Kong Academy (HKA): HKA has wishes to include both parents and children in conversations on how they can best meet that child's need. This approach to Learner Support and English Language Learning ensures that they can provide curriculum interventions and enhancements developed and delivered by educational specialists. Their Counselling and Wellbeing program recognizes the importance of educating the whole child.
4. The International Christian School: Launched a bridging program, Bridges, in 2010 for elementary level students with mild to moderate learning difficulties at its Shek Mun campus. Each student is given a tailor-made learning program called an Individualized Education Plan, comprising mainstream classes, co-curricular programs, and extra-curricular activities. The children receive one-to-one and small-group tuition and spend about 50% of their time in mainstream classes.
5. The Children’s Institute of Hong Kong: Provides one-on-one applied behavioral analysis programming for children with autism. Children are provided with their own individual programs of study and join The Harbour School for assemblies, celebrations, and other classroom activities that may be appropriate for them.
6. Australian International School (AISHK): This is an inclusive school. Their Learning Enrichment team works across the school with classroom teachers to enrich the mainstream curriculum for all students. The LEC team also has access to a part-time private speech pathologist on-site.
If your child has special needs, there are many centers and organizations that offer a wide range of programs that can help your child. From ADHD, Down Syndrome, Dyslexia, and more, there are some wonderful places where your child can learn and have fun.
Here are some of Little Steps favorites:
1. The Watchdog Early Learning Centre: Founded in 1983 by a team of parents headed by Kim Sharman. The Center serves over 450 pre-school children who have a wide spectrum of challenges, including speech delay, autistic spectrum disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Downs Syndrome, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, as well as a variety of other physical and mental needs. Provides intensive and well-rounded early intervention and therapy programs for SEN children from newborn to age six and for both Cantonese and non-Cantonese speakers.
2. Spot: Has 3 centers, and they provide various services for kids with special needs, from speech therapy to dyslexia. They offer both private lessons and group lessons, as well as invaluable advice and support.
3. The Autism Partnership Foundation: is a registered charity in Hong Kong. They are committed to making a difference in the life of individuals with autism. They organize fundraising initiatives to raise funds to generate public awareness and knowledge about autism. The charity also advocates ABA treatment and intervention through community programs of education and research and provides support and help for children with ASD and their families in Asia.
4. Child Development Centre: This well-established center has been around since the 80s and offers support to children with a wide spectrum of individual needs and abilities. From baby clinics to pre-school groups, kids are assessed and guided through therapeutic interventions and specific programs.
5. The Nesbitt Centre: They have been empowering individuals with disabilities to live independently, to care and advocate for themselves with the least amount of support since 1993! This center caters to a wide variety of needs, including physical and intellectual disabilities. Learners are trained to develop a range of skills that start from sensory-based to social and communication skills.
6. Psynamo: Special needs counseling, occupational therapy, and more.
7. Maya Health: For those seeking nutrition-based support and homeopathic therapy for various special needs - these lovely folks can help!
Special Needs Network Hong Kong, www.snnhk.org - organizes workshops professional talks, and social events for parents and caregivers of children with special needs.
The Duchess of Kent Children’s Hospital, www.ha.org.hk/DKCH - offers specialist services in physiotherapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy, and more for children across Hong Kong. They also have an excellent global reputation in the management of spinal deformities for children and adults.
Heep Hong Society, https://www.heephong.org/eng - a leading children education and rehabilitation organization committed to helping children and youth of diverse needs. They provide professional assessment, guidance, training, and family support, thereby contributing to an inclusive society.
The Hong Kong Down Syndrome Society, https://www.hk-dsa.org.hk/?lang=en
The Hong Kong Society for the Deaf, https://www.deaf.org.hk/en/
The Hong Kong Society for the Blind, https://www.hksb.org.hk/en/