The Hong Kong Council of Social Service
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After-school Services to Support Children with Learning Disabilities

Children Service – HKCSS Channel      2015/09/17

Ching Fung, whose language development is relatively slow, is in primary six. As he had difficulty keeping up with the expected learning progress in primary one and two, his academic results were not very good. At times, he did his homework until 11 at night. Upon assessment, Ching Fung was diagnosed with dyslexia.

Ching Fung’s Mother said that in the beginning, she was more patient in coaching him. But she became angry when he could not finish his homework despite my repeated coaching. Sometimes She might sound harsh when I spoke to him which made both of us unhappy. Our relationship was affected and he often had insufficient sleep. She knew he was having a hard time.

Dyslexia is quite common among children; with one in ten students having some degree of it like Ching Fung. By making adjustments in teaching, these children can also learn effectively. However, assessment methods used by most schools may not be able to reflect their capabilities adequately. Negative emotions often result from difficulties encountered in learning, which in turn will affect their confidence and social skills.

The Project-in-charge of Caritas “Lively Children, Happy Parents” – Supportive Service to Specific Learning Disabilities, Ms Yu Kin Man, Mandy, said that children suffering from learning difficulties from a young age through primary and secondary schooling often develop low self-image which affects their social relationship. Many children mentioned that no classmates would play with them at school. And because of their poor grades and conduct, they were labelled as lazy and naughty due to their bad grades and conduct. Their self-image and confidence are in turn undermined. Parents often do not know how to help their children and feel helpless. They may even feel ashamed and angry because of their children’s behavioural problems. Emotional support for parents is indeed very important.

Though the government has made available resources to help students with special education needs, such are mainly provided to schools based on number of students in need. Support for frontline teachers is limited, and students lack sufficient care in terms of learning and assessment. At the same time, there are gaps in after-school and family care of these children at the community level, such as after-school tutoring and parents’ support services. Private services are very expensive and out of reach for grassroots families.

The Caritas project “Lively Children, Happy Family” provides language, social, physical and arts training for children with special education needs from grassroots families, to boost their confidence and self-efficacy. At the same time, support and information on community resources are provided for their parents by social workers and relevant professionals.

After Ching Fung’s mother took part in parents’ groups, she learned from other parents that there was a primary school in another district which might be more suitable for Ching Fung. She then transferred him to that school when he was in primary three. Now, Ching Fung is less resistant about going to school and there are fewer conflicts between him and his mother over schoolwork. Their relationship has improved much.