Recently, Daisy Qin, one of ELG’s experienced bilingual Speech-Language Pathologists, received an unexpected thank-you letter from a parent. This parent is the mother of a child named S. Daisy has been supporting S at ELG for quite some time. When she was three years old, S was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at two of the Tier 3A hospitals.
A Letter From S’s Mom
I took my daughter S to ELG for the first time in August last year. Daisy conducted a detailed intake and assessment for S. Before we came to ELG, S had been suffering greatly.
At the age of 3, she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The international kindergarten S was at almost expelled her due to emotional difficulties she was experiencing, including crying and shouting.
S had poor language expression and abnormal hearing sensitivity (fear of noises), she struggled to follow instructions, had weak peer communication skills, and was almost unable to participate in group activities.
During the initial assessment, S barely passed the language comprehension screening. She did not speak a word and cried a lot. After assessing S’s needs, Daisy decided to focus the intervention on her language expression, hearing, and emotional difficulties.
In September, S began to receive speech, language, and social intervention from Daisy, targeted to:
Improve hearing sensitivity
Develop selective auditory attention
Improve language understanding and skills of expression
Emotional regulation, social skills training, etc.
Before long, S started to improve. Her language comprehension improved! Her language expression skills picked up! S can now verbalize how she feels and her emotions are more stable. Gradually, she is catching up with children of the same age and making friends in kindergarten.
Her progress has exceeded our family’s expectations.
I am so amazed by her improvement after a mere 21 sessions at ELG so far. Through my observation of ELG and Daisy, I have identified some of the factors that contributed to S’s improvement.
Children are Accepted, Respected, and Appreciated at ELG
Daisy’s sessions followed a humanistic approach. She gave S choices, autonomy, and control, instead of a set plan. S is a child who is sensitive and easily becomes anxious, but Daisy’s sessions gave her a sense of security, understanding and respect. This child-centered approach doesn’t mean spoiling the child, but rather having them understand that he or she is respected, listened to, trusted, and supported, while at the same time understanding that there are boundaries and limits. This concept runs through every session design and activity. S liked Daisy’s sessions very much from the beginning, because she felt she was accepted, not directed by an authority figure. On the contrary, she could take the initiative to request control of the session, and that is how she slowly found confidence and became cheerful and active.
A biological cause to S’s hearing problem was ruled out after she came to ELG. Daisy then started to do comprehensive game interventions with S, which led to quick improvements. She changed from a child who did not dare to flush the toilet to a girl who is now able to calm herself down in the face of fireworks. Her interpersonal abilities and emotional regulation improved as well, which is clearly noticed by all.
I am particularly grateful for Daisy’s influence on me as a parent. The approaches used, be it behavioral analysis, functional intervention, or language therapy, are always secondary. The most important thing is to give attention and freedom to the child, so that they have enough room for self-expression. What parents can do is to wait, understand, appreciate, and encourage their child.
The book The Art of The Relationship talks about the overall goal of intervention. It says that comprehensive language and social intervention should center on children. This can awaken and stimulate the child’s core strength and cultivate his or her self-esteem, confidence, and autonomy. We continued to keep this concept in mind and integrated it into our family life. When S was respected and understood at home, many of her difficulties disappeared naturally.
The Intervention Methods are Tailored for Children
Daisy not only has rich experience within the public-school system, but also a broader international vision. She is eager to engage in continuous learning and professional development. Moreover, she often incorporates new theories and methodologies into her sessions. She created a tailored intervention to best support S’s needs, that integrated game therapy and the SCERTS (Social Communication-Emotional Regulation-Collaborative Support) approach within hearing and speech therapy. The approach did not only enrich the sessions, but also produced surprising effects. For example, S especially likes several team games they played, such as Fruit Salad, Guess the Word, Penguin Knocking on Ice, etc. S often asks us to continue playing these games with her at home.
From my point of view, ELG cares about their specialists’ professional development. They are supportive of specialists who want to study abroad and take part in academic exchanges. I think this is exactly what has made ELG a top-notch therapeutic intervention organization.
Parents are Also Cared for and Supported Psychologically at ELG
Our family experienced a very difficult time with S’s diagnosis. As a professional, Daisy soon noticed the pressure and stress I was feeling. She recommended mindfulness resources to me, which helped reduce our anxiety. Today, when I have time before bed, I will replay some of the mindfulness chapters to self-regulate. I want to make sure that I also take care of my mental health while taking care of my child’s.
Before ELG, I was at a complete loss to choose among the numerous intervention theories on the market. At ELG, Daisy recommended many relevant books. One of her recommendations, Game Power, has helped me greatly. We now do all kinds of interventions at home with S without referring to complicated theoretical foundations. We play games with her in different ways every day. My daughter and I, who were previously constantly “seeking change”, both enjoyed this fresh interaction.
To this day, my daughter remembers and is happy to play a game which involves breaking an egg on a doll’s head and letting the liquid flow all over. Integrating these games allowed dry interventions to become fun, and we started to develop a closer parent-child relationship.
Later, Daisy also recommended books on social skills, such as Lifelong Growth and How to Cultivate Children’s Social Quotient. The growth of children is a dynamic process, and parents should also develop lifelong learning. In this sense, Daisy’s book list benefited us greatly.
We as parents are too busy with work and life to try everything. Daisy’s recommendations saved us time by pointing us in the right direction, and broadened our horizons, which is needed for all parents, not only parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
ELG Has Faith That Every Child is a Unique Individual
Since we first met, I have asked Daisy countless times — Is my daughter autistic? Does she have Asperger? Is she abnormal? However, Daisy treated S no differently than any other child. Her book recommendations were also suited to children on the normal spectrum. In retrospect, I started to understand why Daisy did that. She understood my anxiety and worries as a mother. But she was convinced that although S encountered some challenges, she was closer to a typically developing child than I thought, and passed this firm belief on to me.
I read the Development Guide for Children of 3-6 Years Old recommended by Daisy every time I feel confused. Usually, we are relieved to find that these so-called problems can affect every child. Daisy is like the strong pillar of our family. Her tolerance, understanding, encouragement, and unconditional belief and support for our daughter gave us courage and strength. I have recorded the words of encouragement she shared after each session. I played them back dozens of times to boost the morale of our whole family. This has helped us become more united.
Children Fell in Love with Sessions because of Daisy’s Charisma
Each therapist has his/her own style. Those who are the most popular with children and parents usually have not only acquired skills and experience, but also personal talents. Daisy has a gentle disposition and a sweet voice. S likes her very much. She is thrilled to go to sessions, and even prefers to skip her afternoon nap to do so! Daisy is flexible but also sets boundaries for S. She sets a perfect example of how parents should be with their kids. If you want to learn how to get along with children, follow and listen to Daisy!
Daisy’s Reply: S’s Progress is a Great Encouragement for Us
As S’s therapist, I felt more than excited and touched to read your letter.
When I saw S for the first time, she held you tightly and her eyes were full of fear and anxiety. Ordinary daily activities — including even clapping her hands once or counting “123” — would make her cry. Now, based on the feedback from parents, the videos and photos of S confidently participating in various activities, her lively smile is telling us, “I like this world!”. Her progress has encouraged every one of us. We are all inspired by the huge potential within children!
Thank you for your meticulous observation and detailed analysis of my intervention. When professionals and parents come together for the children, we form a team. In the early days of the child’s diagnosis, sadness, confusion, and frustration affect the parents. When parents feel the respect and support of professionals, they can regain hope and gradually change their perspective from asking “what is the problem” to trying to understand the child’s feelings and adopting positive strategies. It is a great honor that my intervention philosophy is recognized by members of S’s family. Her progress belongs to all of us.
As Dr. Barry Prizant imparted in Uniquely Human, as parents and professionals, we have only one task. That is, we must provide opportunities for children to choose; we must improve the child’s motivation and respect the child ’s strength, rather than implement external changes. We make learning, work, and life more fun rather than let the child suffer.
We can proudly say from your letter that we have done this together, as her intervention team!