During a 22-day stay in Wichita, five teachers from China and India enjoyed time spent in the Heartspring School learning how to better teach independence skills to children with autism. Based on their experiences and observations in the classrooms and homes, as well as one-on-one training time with many diverse professionals, the international teachers were able to see how strategies for teaching were implemented, what tasks and visual aids were used and more.
When Lily, Lion and Hope from China’s Stars and Rain school were asked how they would implement what they have learned at Heartspring, Lily answered, “We will implement many things, like using new tasks and adding additional structured teaching stations.” They also took home many new “prizes”, as the group began calling the items they began collecting during their time here. The “prizes” consisted of visual aids and tasks that teachers and therapists had given to them and toys and therapy materials they purchased.
Jayati and Preeti from Open Door School in India were very excited after observing Anger Busters, a twice-weekly session where students at the Heartspring School learn to recognize when they are becoming upset and how to calm down without being aggressive. During Anger Busters the students discuss the problems or “hassles” they have had. When these problems occur the student, with help from staff as needed, fill out a Hassle Log that describes the setting and time, triggers for the behavior, the behavior the student exhibited and the consequences that resulted. Both teachers received their own copy of a blank Hassle Log and met with two of Heartspring’s psychologists to discuss the purpose of Anger Busters. “Anger Busters is something that we can definitely implement with our higher functioning kids. The Hassle Log is a great tool and we can take this home and use this,” said Preeti.
Camilla Ho, a mother of one of Heartspring’s day students, translated for the teachers from China when Hope was not here, due to Hope’s demanding schedule. It was an honor to have a Heartspring parent involved in such a rewarding way.
Overall, each teacher found their experience at Heartspring to fulfill their hopes for coming…to learn more about helping children with special needs. They have been re-energized and were excited to return home and implement the many things they learned. They are now prepared to train their colleagues back home, carrying on the learning process. Their last days at Heartspring were bittersweet. They were happy to return home with new knowledge, but sad to leave newfound friends. At Heartspring they created a lasting bond with others, where a passion for serving children with special needs unites people around the globe.