Bringing Hope to Families Affected by Autism
Luke 8:39 says “Return home and tell how much God has done for you…”
Every time I travel to China, God reveals more of his miraculous interventions and shows me how he knits everything together through the Holy Spirit. The prayers for this project continue to be answered and I need to praise God for His leading and guiding and to share what he is doing in China.
I have been traveling to China for five years through the CARE project, and every year more of the plan that was written down five years ago comes to pass. This year I had the opportunity to share the complete testimony with one of the investors of a new school being built in Haikou, China. I shared how 17 years ago I traveled to China to pray and then five years ago when I returned to China God miraculously led me to Dr. Jia. It was at this time that a relationship formed between SEAPC and the Autism/Handicap Federation she works with in China.
Out of that relationship SEAPC CARE was formed. I continued to share with this man how all of the pieces are coming together from across the globe that only God the Father could have put together. This man was amazed by the testimony and said, “I am a Buddhist, but after hearing you share your story I believe that God has brought you to China and that we will see great things.”
Last year I jokingly shared with Dr. Jia that I would like to go to the beach while in China. Well, this year that desire came to be. A new center opened up five months ago in Haikou, China. The investor said, “This school did not exist last year when you said that you wanted to go to the beach. I believe that God has led us to open up this school in a beach area.” He continued to say, “I do believe that God is leading you, and we will follow God.”
I agree with this man. I believe God is going to continue to do great things in China. I believe that God is leading us. I believe that when we share what God is doing, it increases our faith and the faith of others. This year our faith continues to grow as we see His hand moving.
In August a team of educators, translators and intercessor traveled to Beijing and Haikou, China for 15 days to provide training to head teachers responsible for assessing children, writing their goals, and managing teachers under their supervision.
For one week our team worked with a group of head teachers from the Sunshine and Rainbow Hospital in Beijing doing training on how to assess children with autism and writing goals for treatment. This hospital will become one of the training sites for teachers as well as a treatment center for children with autism. The hospital focuses on inclusion. Children without autism are receiving an education in the preschool located in the hospital. The children with autism are first taught in a one-to-one session how to be successful in a regular classroom with their peers.
Then they generalize the skills by being placed with peers in a regular classroom setting, which then prepares them for a public school setting. This is important because there is no special education in China for children with autism. If they cannot handle a regular school classroom, they cannot remain in the school. Teachers and/or parents of other children in the classroom can request that they no longer attend. Parents of children with autism are then forced to put their child into a private school or to keep them home. The focus of this hospital is very important for children to be prepared to be educated with their peers without autism in the public school.
The dream of the director of this school is to obtain funds so that a private school could be established for those children that cannot be successful in the public school setting. The children are capable of doing academic work but their behaviors may impede their ability to be successful in an inclusion setting. A school that understands the behaviors individuals with autism exhibit can meet their academic and behavior needs in a positive environment. Our prayer for this director is that she can find the funds to form such a school where children with autism can be educated, become independent, contribute to society, and be a part of the workforce. Thus reducing the stress of the family and providing hope to the individual.
In Haikou, we trained 100 teachers on Applied Behavior Analysis and teaching strategies. We also worked with 35 teachers — all new college graduates — that were chosen by Dr. Jia to be the first teachers to receive intensive teaching on methods used to teach children with autism. The new center in Haikou has dormitories for teachers to live in as they study how to teach children with autism using ABA therapy. There is also housing for 20 families from Tibet that have children with autism, who are there to receive government funded treatment. The grounds at the new training center have stables for therapeutic horseback riding, a track, roller skating rink, soccer field, cottages to teach children how to eat in a restaurant, and a proposed swimming pool that will be in place this coming year. The government of China has given $10 million USD toward this teaching facility and several private investors have also invested money in completing the renovations.
During our time, we were also able to do some parent training. Parent struggles in China are the same as those in the U.S. Many questions were asked about how to handle the problem behavior and sleep and eating disorders that are prevalent in autism. Bob Rosswog, our intercessor, prayed for the families during our training time with them. One of the parents shared that they wanted to become a Christian and asked how to obtain a Bible.
Our team also went to a home where a 20-year-old man with autism lives with his parents. His mother is an alcoholic and his father takes care of the boy with the help of a nanny. A member from the Chong Wen Men Church has been ministering to this family. We had a time of prayer and tried to provide them with some basic information that would help their child communicate. The parents are desperate for some type of treatment for their non-verbal son. The CARE project is working with the Chong Wen Men church in equipping the Sunday School teachers to minister to families such as this one. Lydia is one of the leaders of the autism ministry from the Chong Wen Men Church. She has recently started her online coursework from Cairn University to obtain a master’s degree in autism and ABA. Lydia is working toward becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst which will equip her to provide therapy to children with autism. Cairn University is working with the CARE project by offering half-off tuition to teachers in China that wish to pursue their degree in Applied Behavior Analysis.
The SEAPC CARE project’s focus is to continue offering training throughout the year to the teachers to expand their knowledge regarding treatment. The goal is to have training centers in both Northern and Southern China. Dr. Rachel Kittenbrink and I are planning a series of trainings that will hopefully occur every three months in China. This will further the education of the teachers and provide evidence-based treatment for the children.
One of the most exciting things to share is a new school that will provide treatment for kids and ministry for the families is opening in Chengdu China under the direction of Gail and Daniel, who also provide care to children from the Tibetan region as part of Touching Hearts Child Care. Gail has secured a classroom in an incubation center to begin offering treatment to families. She has also enrolled into the Cairn University program to obtain her certificate in Autism and ABA with the help of SEAPC.
God has done so much for us and continues to bless us. I praise Him for what he has accomplished so far but the work has just begun. There is a great deal to be accomplished and your prayers are needed to help us continue to bring hope to the families of children with autism in China.