The Friendly and Welcoming Environment Changes Him Gradually

In the morning, Hao, an 11-year-old, went to school accompanied by his grandma. "Good morning, Hao!" A schoolmate on duty at the gate said hello to him. Hao smiled happily. As guided by his grandma, he said hello back to the schoolmate, and went to his classroom alone.

Hao suffered from autism. When he went to kindergarten at the age of three, his parents found that he was very different from others in both language development and interpersonal communication. His mom and dad took him to the hospital, and he was diagnosed with autism. It was undoubtedly a bolt from the blue. Hao's mom and dad blamed each other as they could not take the news, and quarreled often. Hao's grandma took Hao to Nanning, Guangxi for rehabilitation. After nearly a year of training, conflicts between Hao's parents got worse. The grandma had to stop the training in Nanning, take Hao back to the hometown and send him to relatives in the countryside for care, hoping to save the family.

However, Hao's getting worse, and his parents finally divorced. By then, Hao had stopped training for over a year, and his behavior was becoming more and more problematic. He even harmed himself by hitting his head against the wall or with his hands or biting his fingers. So the grandma had to take him back to Nanning for training. After a period of time in the rehab, Hao got improved, though he still harmed himself badly.

In September 2018, Hao was accepted by a pilot school of integrated education, a program supported by World Vision. At his first registration with the school, he got his tooth marks all over his arms and bruises on his face and forehead. He also bit his own collar when he's nervous, and the front of his shirt was stained with saliva. Hao's very attached to his grandma and would hit his head against the wall once leaving his grandma. When the teacher failed to handle his problematic behaviors, she called his grandma to pick him up. The grandma wasn't in a good mental state either. "Hao suffered a high frequency of emotional outbursts. Sometimes, to calm him down, I stayed up all night playing toys with him. I was nervous all day long, afraid that he would hurt himself accidentally."

The special education team made up of social workers, school teachers and special education resource teachers from the cooperative institution set a specific education goal for Hao, which was to create a safe, relaxed and stress-free study environment for him. Teachers and schoolmates greeted him with smiles every day, his class arranged "little angels" to help him join school activities, teachers encouraged and praised him every day, and resource teaches accompanied him often and, when he lost his temper, put him in a safe environment and let him do what he liked to calm him down. At the same time, his grandma was invited to join the parents club, and lead other parents to do aerobics and dancing every morning after they sent their children to school, so as to improve herself mentally.

The friendly and welcoming study environment changed Hao gradually. He harmed himself less, began to enjoy smiling, had no self-harm bruises on his face, and dressed clean and neat clothes, and his grandma also got improved mentally. The positive grandma often sent videos of Hao's progress to his parents. Once, Hao's dad bought clothes for Hao voluntarily when the weather changed. The grandma said, "it was the first time his dad bought him clothes after he knew about Hao's autism." This Spring Festival, Hao went home, his mom and dad began to accept his current status deep down after they saw his changes, and had plans for Hao's future development. Now Hao's parents are considering remarriage.

In the process of promoting integrated education in general schools, the project paid attention to building a humanistic environment on campus and creating a friendly, welcoming and safe atmosphere to enable integrated students to integrate into the ordinary education environment, participate in ordinary class activities and generate positive interactions. In such an environment, integrated students not only felt the friendliness of others but also improved their social interaction skills. Schools of integrated education are a platform and starting point for children like Hao to integrate into the mainstream society. (Written by partner)