Home for Autistic want tertiary college
Locals with autism or other learning difficulties need a special tertiary college, the head of the Kanner’s Home for Autistic, Alan Book, said.
Book’s remarks follow yesterday’s campaign launch by the Macau Child Development Association (MCDA) promoting the need to build a non-tertiary school for children with learning difficulties.
The group has gathered support from parents and is now asking the government to support them with a plot of land “to build a school for all children”, with an inclusive system and therapy sessions, in English and Chinese languages.
However, Book believes that it is more important to create a tertiary college.
“At the moment children with special needs can only stay in school until 21. Unlike ‘normal’ students who can further their studies in colleges or universities, our autistic children do not have a chance to specialise in any area that they are good at,” he bemoaned.
“For instance many autistic children are good at music, sports or drawing. They should have a chance to enter some special post-secondary colleges in which they can further develop their interests and abilities,” he told Macau Daily Times.
The head of the Kanner Home added that it does not have to be a separate college.
“It can be just a faculty of the UM [University of Macau], the new campus of which would be very enormous, or just a department of the UM Faculty of Education or of Macau Polytechnic Institute,” he suggested.
Book is a senior instructor at the UM Faculty of Education.
Lack of resources
Commenting on the MCDA project, Book said: “It is impossible for the government to grant a piece of land because, first of all, many ‘normal’ schools are queuing for land to rebuild their facilities”.
Moreover, Book does not agree with the head of the MCDA, Eliana Calderón, when she says that the local education system currently has no room for children with learning difficulties.
“Macau has already got some special schools for students with learning difficulties – one public school and three private ones,” he emphasised.
In addition, Book said there are some small classes for special children in at least three other public schools.
“I think the problem is not a lack of special schools, but that the special schools we have now need more resources, both human and material, and support, both financial and spiritual,” he concluded.
Calderón told MDTimes on Monday that the Macau educational system was neglecting children with learning difficulties.
She said that only “the privileged and the lucky ones can hire private teachers to help them overcome their difficulties or even learn English”. She also said that currently, Macau has educational and therapy services for children with mild learning difficulties but those services are not available for English-speakers.
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