Five Educational and Community Program students recently returned from Beijing, China, where they set out to break the closed-minded stigma surrounding children with special needs.
Carissa Cancemi, Lauren Hoffman, Janet Lui, Emily Nicholson, and Mirella Rodriguez regenerated two experimental classrooms at the Beijing Wucailu Center for Children with Autism. With the assistance of teachers from BWCC, the QC team created a more involving curriculum.
Beaming with pride, ECP professor Peishi Wang reflects on her students’ accomplishments. “First, they revamped the make-up of the classes. One class consisted of 10 students, one lead teacher and two assistants. The other class consisted of 6 students with one lead teacher and two assistants. Second, they revised the curriculum by incorporating more evidence-based interventions including routine-based intervention, embedded instruction, and differentiated instruction. Third, they created and decorated the two classrooms with more visual support materials such as behavior charts, the daily schedule (in print as well as pictures) and morning routine, and areas to display children’s independent work samples.”
Meeting these objectives proved to be a great feat. Because of the lack of trained professionals in China, at BWCC and other schools for children with autism, parents are usually with their children throughout the day as teaching assistants. This practice created many challenges in the children’s learning process, since they rely on their parents. Understanding this situation, the QC students quickly enforced prompt independence of the classroom and parents are no longer needed.
Students’ days at BWCC were filled with plenty of interaction with the children. The newly adopted curriculum is theme-based and every instructor has specific objectives. For ease of transition, the students gave workshops on topics and questions selected by the BWCC staff.
The students enjoyed themselves immensely. With every challenge came an even bigger reward. From this experience, they are anticipating returning next year.