Text ◆ Shen Yashi “Ming Pao”
Children generally have similar milestones in terms of physical, intellectual or behavioral development. If parents have concerns about their children’s growth and development, they need to seek professional advice.
When it comes to children with abnormalities, many parents will immediately think of seeing a pediatrician, but not everyone is aware of the “discipline of children’s physical, mental and behavioral development”.
(Hong Kong News) The specialty of “Children’s Physical, Mental and Behavioral Development” has a history of 10 years in Hong Kong. Doctors have three major responsibilities. In addition to evaluating, diagnosing and treating children under the age of 18, they also provide parents with discipline plans, and also Serving as a communication bridge between them and the school is definitely a good partner for parents of children with special educational needs (SEN).
In the field of pediatric specialists,
In addition to general paediatrics,
There are still 7 subspecialties.
These include the “Children’s Physical, Mental and Behavioral Development Discipline” which was certified in 2013.
According to the list of specialist doctors of the Hong Kong Medical Council, as of October 2023, there are 18 specialists in “Children’s Physical, Mental and Behavioral Development”, including Chen Fengying, honorary clinical associate professor of the Department of Paediatrics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Pay attention to children’s physical, intellectual and behavioral development
As the name suggests, the “Children’s Physical, Intellectual and Behavioral Development Subject” mainly focuses on children’s physical, intellectual and behavioral development. Chen Fengying said that this subject can use different assessment tools to diagnose the areas in which children under the age of 18 have deviations. , and then provide advice, try our best to help the children make progress, so that they can be closer to the development of ordinary children. Of course, for some disabilities, it may not be possible to return them to normal through our suggestions or rehabilitation plans, but we all hope to help children have a suitable learning environment so that they can live independently in the future.
Currently, many public and private medical institutions and social service units in Hong Kong provide child assessment services, but they are implemented by different medical professionals. How is the division of labor carried out? Chen Fengying pointed out that the simplest concept is that preschool infants and young children under the age of 6 are mainly responsible for pediatricians; while most of the assessment tools needed to diagnose behavioral or learning problems of “older children” who are 6 years old or later are provided by Clinical psychologists exercise. However, in actual operation, this is not necessarily the case.
She explained that among infants and young children under the age of 6, the most commonly diagnosed developmental abnormalities include autism spectrum disorder (ASD), language delay, physical disability or delay, and developmental delays caused by complications of premature birth. The “Integrated Child Health and Development Plan” implemented by the Maternal and Child Health Center of the Department of Health can mostly be screened.
Generally speaking, after babies are born, nurses at Maternal and Child Health Centers will continue to monitor their growth and development. If any abnormalities are suspected, doctors at the hospital will first make a preliminary assessment and, if necessary, refer them to the Department of Health’s Children’s Physical Fitness Center. The intelligence testing center conducted further diagnosis, treatment and follow-up, and those who visited these children were pediatricians who received specialist training in “Children’s Physical, Intellectual and Behavioral Development”.
Symptoms do not appear until age 6 or later
“However, symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and some psychological problems, such as anxiety, early depression or difficulty controlling emotions, often do not appear until the child is 6 years old or later, because the child has already entered school. In addition to caregivers, problems may also be discovered through teachers or school social workers, and the referral channels will become diversified. Schools will usually refer students to the Children’s Assessment Center for detailed assessment, but they can also be referred for an appointment. Educational psychologist funded by the Department of Education.”
“When some parents see their children’s behavioral problems are serious, they will choose to take them for medical treatment. Depending on the situation, private doctors may refer them to the pediatric department of public hospitals for follow-up, or even directly to the child and adolescent psychiatry department.”
Chen Fengying added that the main service targets of the Children’s Physical and Intelligence Testing Center are schoolchildren aged 12 or below. However, middle school students aged 12 to 18 with more complex conditions will also be referred to the educational psychologist if they have difficulty in assessment. Doctors at the center handle it.
In fact, the responsibilities of specialists in the “Children’s Physical, Mental and Behavioral Development Department” are not only to provide personalized rehabilitation service suggestions for SEN children, but more importantly, to enable parents to accept their sick children.
“I have met some parents who were so excited that they clapped their hands on the table and walked away after hearing that their children were diagnosed; many fathers tend to downplay their children’s condition and believe that ‘it will be fine when they grow up’; some mothers are overly nervous and will They add a lot of their own ideas, and some even rush to sign up for children to participate in various training courses, leaving them with no time to eat or sleep, which is not a good thing.”
Chen Fengying sent a message to parents that no matter what their children’s situation is, “acceptance, calmness, and understanding” are the best ways to help them.
She also encouraged parents to “shift their focus” and try to focus on their children’s strengths and let them develop their talents.
ASD boys win prizes in international competition
“In medicine, doctors’ diagnosis mainly focuses on the differences between children with SEN and ordinary children. During the process, their strengths are not examined. But to me, assessment is just to let everyone know that these children need more help. Assessment is not The crystal ball cannot tell that a child will have no hope in life. I firmly believe that as long as we find the children’s strengths, they can naturally make up for their shortcomings.”
Chen Fengying shared a profound example. Seven years ago, she met a 12-year-old boy with mild mental retardation and ASD. He never talked to anyone, but because of the boy’s patterned white shoes, Chen Fengying successfully started a conversation with him.
“I observed that he drew a lot of dolls on his white cloth shoes, so I started here, and unexpectedly he started talking. After that, every time he had a follow-up visit, he brought many paintings to share with me, and he made another one Board game (table game), if you have all the game cards, teach me how to play it.”
The boy studied in a school for children with mild mental retardation, but Chen Fengying discovered that he had a talent for English, and later suggested that he apply for the English Language and Visual Arts subjects of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination (DSE) as a private student.
“The boy’s father and I worked together to do this. Together with the doctor’s letter I wrote, my father helped his son apply to the Special Education Section of the Education Bureau to take the DSE exam. As a result, the boy got a passing grade in the visual arts subject, and we all Very encouraging.”
Although the boy finally gave up applying for English Language and Literature, he showed off his talents by serving as the master of ceremonies at the school’s graduation ceremony in English. At the same time, he is also an outstanding disabled athlete and has won many awards in international competitions. Over the past seven years, Chen Fengying was very pleased to witness the progress of this sick child, “In fact, dad’s support and cooperation are crucial.”
This also cites her long-held belief that parental companionship and love are the best medicine for children with SEN!
Drugs prescribed only for those with mood disorders
Speaking of good medicine, Chen Fengying admitted that some parents bring their children to see her with the mentality of asking for a “miracle pill”. “They want me to give their children a medicine, and after taking it, they will be obedient and their grades will get better. When they encounter this, As a parent, I have to spend a lot of time explaining.”
She said that unless the condition of ADHD children is very serious, such as losing control and running off the road, engaging in self-harm or harming others, or they also suffer from emotional illness, medications will be prescribed. Otherwise, behavioral therapy and effective discipline will be recommended. , and establish good daily routines to help children improve their conditions. As long as the family members are willing to cooperate, progress will generally be made.