Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
LCQ10: Autistic children studying in ordinary schools

    Following is a question by the Hon Abraham Shek and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (December 19):


     It has been reported that autistic children studying in ordinary schools are often bullied by their schoolmates. They are prone to feel isolated and helpless, and some even have developed a tendency to commit suicide. Although the schools concerned have taken positive steps to solve the problem, such children are still exposed to different degrees of verbal and physical abuses from time to time. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the current number of autistic children in Hong Kong, and how many of them are studying in ordinary schools;

(b) how the authorities will strengthen the support to those autistic children who are bullied and discriminated against in schools and their parents, in order that such children can be accepted by their schoolmates and will grow up healthily; and

(c) given that some students and their parents do not understand and accept autistic children, whether the authorities will consider organising large-scale publicity and promotion campaigns to enhance public understanding of autistic children and foster the development of an inclusive culture in the community?


Madam President,

(a) According to the records of the Education Bureau (EDB), there are 2597 autistic students in Hong Kong, of whom 963 are studying in ordinary schools and the rest in special schools.

(b) To assist schools in fostering an inclusive culture, apart from providing them with additional resources, professional support and teacher training, EDB has also been promoting parent and public education in this regard. The Bureau has taken a number of measures to enhance teachers' knowledge and skills in managing bullying in schools and rendering support for autistic students. Assistance has been given to schools in formulating policies and preventive measures against bullying. While schools will provide immediate counselling and assistance to autistic students who encounter problems of social adjustment, they may also seek help from EDB where necessary. Educational psychologists will work in collaboration with teachers, school social workers and parents to develop an individualised support plan for the students concerned. For example, group counselling may be arranged to improve the problem-solving ability and social skills of autistic students, a "circle of friends" may be formed to support them, and guidance would be given to the "bullies". Besides, encouraging autistic students to give full play to their own strengths and to boost their self-confidence will also help enhance peer acceptance.

    A number of measures are being implemented to further enhance support for autistic students. For primary schools, EDB has commissioned the University of Hong Kong to develop an assessment tool, namely "The Behaviour Checklist on Social-Communicative Skills for Pupils with Autism" to assist teachers and student guidance personnel in providing individual support for autistic students. Relevant teacher workshops have been organised and the checklist was uploaded to EDB's website this October. Furthermore, a package on teaching children with autism to mind-read will be developed by the Hong Kong Institute of Education on EDB's commission and is expected to be available for distribution to primary schools in late 2008 for use by teachers and parents. At secondary level, EDB is collaborating with The Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Caritas Rehabilitation Services to jointly organise the "ILAUGH" training programme to develop the social and communication skills of junior secondary students with autism. The outcomes of the programme will be shared among teachers and social workers of all secondary schools during the next school year, in the hope that the programme will be implemented in more secondary schools in coming years. Starting from this school year, a Teacher Professional Development Framework on Integrated Education has been launched to offer basic, advanced and thematic courses for teachers, among which include thematic training courses on autism. EDB will distribute an "Integrated Education Guide for Schools" in this school year to all secondary and primary schools in Hong Kong to introduce the concept of integrated education and share good practises identified in schools. To familiarise teachers with autism, EDB will also organise training activities for teachers on a regular basis. For example, two seminars have been planned for mainstream secondary school teachers in 2008, and primary school teachers and parents will each be provided with two seminars on teaching children with autism to mind-read.

(c) EDB has been enhancing public understanding of autism through various means. In terms of large-scale publicity and promotion campaigns, EDB has joined hands with the Castle Peak Hospital, non-governmental organisations and parents associations to organise the "Hong Kong Autism Awareness Week". This has become an annual event since 2004 to promote understanding and acceptance of autistic children. The "Open the Windows of Mind" workshops, one of the activities organised under the Hong Kong Autism Awareness Week this year, aims to promote a positive attitude amongst students towards their autistic peers in mainstream schools. It is expected that 60 workshops will be held for about 3300 primary students during this school year. At the school level, EDB encourages collaboration between schools and community organisations keen on promoting inclusiveness to organise activities to enable ordinary students and those with special educational needs to jointly develop the skills of maintaining a harmonious relationship. For parents, an information leaflet on "Helping Your Child with Autism" has recently been produced by EDB, and the "Integrated Education Guide for Parents" will also be published in this school year. EDB will keep up its effort to promote integrated education, including the awareness of autism, with a view to fostering an inclusive culture in society.

Ends/Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Issued at HKT 13:23


Print this page