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Chen Xu School Celebrates 4 Years of Inclusive Education

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Firefly dance and piano by YouChen

On the evening of September 8, Olivia’s Place staff attended the Chen Xu School Gala at Little Friends’ Theatre in Shanghai.  The gala showcased what Chen Xu has achieved in the past 4 years in  providing inclusive education, as well as to convey gratitude to all who have supported their mission along the way.  We were honored to receive the ‘Love without Boundaries’ plaque on behalf of Olivia’s Foundation for our technical support to the school, along with several other recipients including China Merchants Bank, Fu Dan University, Shanghai Theatrer Academy, and others. Olivia’s Place psychologists Dr. Laura Lofy and Dr. Beth Kremer-Collins were recognized as outstanding volunteers for their continuous care and love for both the students with special needs and migrant children at the school.

Chen Xu School is a primary school serving 395 migrant children and 5 local children with autism

Nelson Chow receives a plaque on behalf of Olivia's Foundation.

Nelson Chow receives a plaque on behalf of Olivia’s Foundation.

spectrum disorder (ASD). It is located in the QingPu District of Shanghai. The school’s trustee, Mr. ShouHong Fang has a son with high-functioning autism, who is also enrolled in the school. It is his mission to establish a model school that provides inclusive education to children with special needs.

In January 2013, with financial support through a grant from Olivia’s Foundation, Olivia’s Place began offering the expertise of its multidisciplinary staff, including two educational and clinical psychologists, a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, and a learning support specialist, to work with the teachers to develop and implement individualized education plans (IEPs) for the students with special needs. Assessment, classroom observation, and teacher and parent interviews were conducted to determine the performance level of a student with ASD in various functional areas. The individualized goals, objectives, and strategies the teachers can use to support the child have been identified by working closely with his special education teachers and classroom teacher. Professional training on sensory diets, speech assessment, and how to promote the inclusion of children with special needs in the regular education program has been provided to both the mainstream and special education teachers. In addition, training in psychology topics was provided to teachers on a monthly basis to support the typically developing students in school. In addition to time and resources funded through the Olivia’s Foundation grant, therapists have contributed one fourth of the total projects hours on a pro bono basis. The multi-disciplinary team from both organizations will use what they have learned from the process and continue to work to develop IEPs for the other 4 students with ASD .

Dr. Beth Kremer-Collins accepts a "Most Outstanding Volunteer" award.

Dr. Beth Kremer-Collins accepts a “Most Outstanding Volunteer” award.

On the night of the gala, many people were in attendance, including volunteers from all walks of life, families with young children, as well as local government officials and big corporations who believe in inclusive education. The piano solo by YangYang, one of the students with ASD, and the Firefly music piece by YouChen and his typically developing peers were especially touching.  We are very inspired by

YouChen's piano performance at the gala.

YouChen’s piano performance at the gala.

the passion and dedication of the teachers, parents, and volunteers we have worked with and are committed to providing ongoing support to help them fulfill the school mission.

Speech & Language Strategies for Parents and Educators: Grammar and Vocabulary

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by Sophia Guarracino, Speech-Language Pathologist

by Sophia Guarracino, Speech-Language Pathologist

One of the most important points to keep in mind when your child or a student in your class is receiving speech and language services is the importance of carrying over intervention in both the home and school settings. It is ideal for parents, therapists, and educators to work together and discuss the techniques that will be effective for each child. There are many strategies that can be incorporated into a child’s daily routine to boost their speech and language skills. In this post, we will focus on two areas: grammar and sentence structure and vocabulary and word meanings.

Grammar/Sentence Structure: These strategies are intended for students who have difficulty with grammar and/or sentence structure.

  • If the child says something incorrectly, repeat it for them correctly in a natural way. Be sensitive about not calling negative attention to their language. For example, if the child says “I goed to the store.” You’d say, “Oh, you went to the store.”
  • When the child’s speech or writing contains grammar or word order errors, show them in writing the correct form.
  • When working with the child individually with written or oral language, repeat the error and ask the child how the sentence sounds. For example, if the child says or writes, “I goed to the store.” You say, “I goed to the store? Does that sound right?” If the child is unable to correct it, give them a choice. For example, “Which sounds better, ‘I goed to the store.’ or ‘I went to the store.’?”
  • For frequently occurring errors, build oral language practice into the daily routine for the entire class.


Vocabulary/Word Meanings: These strategies are intended for students who have difficulty with vocabulary/word meaning.

  • Prior to introducing new units or stories, compile a list of key vocabulary words. Discuss the words and their possible meanings with students.
  • When introducing words, try using a graphic organizer or visual mapping to come up with word relationships, including antonyms or synonyms.
  • When possible, pair a picture with the vocabulary words. When vocabulary is abstract and pictures are not available, try to relate the words to a personal experience to which students can relate.
  • Place words and definitions on note cards. Use the cards to play games such as matching or memory.
  • Create a word list with vocabulary and definitions to display in a visible place within the classroom.
  • Provide students with a vocabulary list including definitions one week prior to beginning a new unit.
  • Encourage the use of word-games at home (Tribond, etc.).
  • Consult with a speech-language therapist for more ideas using graphic organizers.

Olivia’s Place: 2012 ADVANCE Practice of the Year Finalist

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At the end of 2012, Olivia’s Place was recognized on an international level.  Olivia’s Place earned Honorable Mention for ADVANCE Practice of the Year. The winning practices were recognized for providing superior consumer service using evidence-based care, staying true to the guiding principles of the profession, and promoting the profession of physical therapy. Advance Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation is a US-based publication with a readership of more 93,000 professionals working in a rehabilitative capacity.

ADVANCE has conducted the Practice of the Year awards for 11 years, and practices considered range from small neighborhood clinics to large multi-state enterprises, with a wide variety of physical therapy and rehabilitation services and specialties. The judging panel is made up exclusively of physical therapy private practice owners and previous winners of the contest, who score anonymous entries on a range of success metrics.

Olivia’s Place was recognized for our vision to change the way pediatric therapy is done in China.  This includes a commitment to high-quality, evidence-based care, qualified staff, and partnership and outreach with local hospitals and clinics, universities, foundations, schools, and orphanage.  The panel also cited our Technical Advisory Board, a group of experts who serve as a resource to our clinicians to ensure that we are utilizing best practices and staying abreast of the most recent information in our clinical fields.  Finally, the honorable mention award recognized our efforts to provide community education to both local and expatriate children, parents, teachers, and medical practitioners.

The 2012 Practice of the Year Winner was Athletico, a 69-location practice headquartered in Chicago.  There were three other practices which earned honorable mention in addition to Olivia’s Place. Learn more about the Advance Practice of the Year awards and the 2012 winners.

Olivia’s Place Professionals Share Their Time and Talents

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Each of our staff members joins our team because they believe in our mission of improving the quality and accessibility of pediatric therapy in China.  Our therapists have a heart for kids, and many choose to work with children on a pro bono basis during their time off.  Read on to learn about some of our clinicians and the children and organizations with which they are partnering to bring world class therapy to children in China.

Marc Innerhofer treats a child at Little Flower Projects in Beijing.

Marc Innerhofer treats a child at Little Flower Projects in Beijing.

Physical Therapist Marc Innerhofer is providing pro bono therapy services to children at Little Flower Projects  foster center for medically fragile children in Beijing. For two hours each week, he works with 4-5 children who have cerebral palsy or developmental delays.

Zara Kan, Speech-language Pathologist, assessed children with speech-language concerns on a recent Saturday at Bethel, a Beijing organization that supports blind and visually-impaired orphans in China. In addition, Zara visited Angel Mom, a Beijing organization dedicated to orphans who require medical treatment, and consulted with several of their staff.

In Shanghai, Occupational Therapist Eva Steins works weekly with Ze, a 10-year-old boy with severe cerebral palsy.  Although Eva does not speak Chinese fluently, she has a great resource in our volunteer interpreter Emily Yan.  According to Ze’s mom, he has been gaining good hand function through these sessions.

Physical therapist Veronica Bosch provides monthly consultation to Xin and his parents on how to maintain his level of activities.  Xin is less than two years old and is diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy.

Fei is one and half years old with developmental delay.  After two months of intensive therapy with Physical Therapists Veronica

Marla Balzer works together with Fei and her ayi.

Marla Balzer works together with Fei and her ayi.

Bosch and Marla Balzer, she is able to crawl, pull to stand up, and even take a few steps with assistance.  Now Fei only needs monthly sessions, while she continues to build her motor skills with a home program.

Video Game Use in Boys with Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD

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A study published in July 2013 in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, examined video game use in boys with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) compared with those with ADHD or typical development.  The study also examined how specific symptoms and game features relate to problematic video game use across groups.

Participants of the study included parents of approximately 140 boys, aged 8-18. Questionnaires assessed daily hours of video game use, in-room video game access, video game genres, problematic video game use, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) symptoms, and ADHD symptoms.

Results of the study showed that boys with ASD spent more time than did boys with typical development playing video games (2.1 hours per day versus 1.2 hours per day). Both the ASD and ADHD groups had greater in-room video game access and greater problematic video game use than the typical development group. inattentive symptoms predicted problematic game use for both the ASD and ADHD groups; and preferences for role-playing games predicted problematic game use in the ASD group only.

The study concluded that boys with ASD spend much more time playing video games than do boys with typical development, and boys with ASD and ADHD are at greater risk for problematic video game use than are boys with typical development. Inattentive symptoms, in particular, were strongly associated with problematic video game use for both groups, and role-playing game preferences may be an additional risk factor for problematic video game use among children with ASD. These findings suggest a need for longitudinal research to better understand predictors and outcomes of video game use in children with ASD and ADHD.

Speech and Language Strategies for Parents & Educators: Articulation

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by Sophia Guarracino, Speech-Language Pathologist

by Sophia Guarracino, Speech-Language Pathologist

One of the most important points to keep in mind when your child is receiving speech and language services is the importance of carrying over intervention in both the home and school settings. It is ideal for parents, therapists, and educators to work together and discuss the techniques that will be effective for each child. There are everyday strategies that can be incorporated into a child’s daily routine to boost their speech and language skills. In this post, we will focus on articulation.

Articulation: These strategies are intended for teachers and parents of students who have difficulty saying certain sounds.

  • If you cannot understand a student and you have asked them to repeat themselves, it might help to ask the student to show you or say it in a different way. For example, ask the student to write the word if they are able to do so.
  • If the student’s response contains a known sound error, it’s important to repeat what the child said with an appropriate model.  For example, if the child says ‘nak’ for snake, you would say, “Oh, you want the snake.” This way you are not focusing on the error or calling negative attention to the child, but providing an appropriate model.
  • With younger children bring whatever you are talking about closer to your mouth so that the child is more apt to focus on speech production.
  • If you hear a consistent speech sound error, use written text to increase the child’s ability to see, hear, and be aware of that sound. For example, ask the student to find all of the words containing the error sound in a page of a story. Make this a routine in your classroom so that no student is singled out.
  • If you have a student who is able to make a sound correctly some of the time when they know an adult is listening, set up a non-verbal cue with that child to let them know that you are listening (e.g., put your hand on the student’s shoulder before you call on them to read aloud.)
  • Highlight words in their own writing or in classroom worksheets that contain sounds that the child misarticulates.
  • Reading aloud and keying into the words with the sound is very important
  • Use stories with a lot of emphasis on the sound – help to sound out written words.
  • Find pictures together in books or stories that have the sound.
  • Talk about how different sounds are made with your mouth.
  • Gradually lead up to the sound and show how it is said differently from the sound used incorrectly.
  • Associate the sound with an object, action, or noise to help practice it in a fun way.
  • Develop a secret code with the sound to use at home.
  • Play ” I’m thinking of a word that starts with: st, sp, thr,” (identify pictures in books).
  • Make matching picture cards with the sounds to play Go Fish, Memory or Lotto.
  • Find objects with the sound/ start a collection.
  • Play “I’m thinking of a word that starts (or ends) with ______(make the sound).”

Doctors, Teachers, and Therapists Join Hands to Reach out to Shanghai’s Kids

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The following article was written by Dr. Laura Lofy.

 by Dr. Laura Lofy.

Currently, there is no systematic process to coordinate the identification, treatment, and education of young children with disabilities in China. Typically, professionals in the fields of medicine, rehabilitation, special education, and regular education work independently with little to no cross-discipline collaboration. This situation is somewhat akin to the Chinese tale about the blind men feeling the elephant, and mistaking each single part for the whole. In this case, it is the comprehensive understanding of the whole child that is lost.

The good news is that Shanghai Children’s Medical (SCMC) is trying to change this state of affairs. Under the leadership of developmental pediatricians Zhang Yi Wen, MD, and Jiang Fan, MD, SCMC is collaborating with public preschools throughout Pudong District (Shanghai) to pilot a system of early identification for children suspected of autism and other developmental delays. These doctors truly “get it.” While they know that children with severe disabilities usually find placements in China’s special education schools, they are also cognizant of the reality that there are many children with mild to moderate impairments who are not formally diagnosed and who struggle in regular education settings. Moreover, these health care professionals understand that regular education teachers and parents need training and support in order to raise and educate children who have extra challenges.

Olivia’s Place has been lending a hand to SCMC’s laudable endeavors by providing technical assistance and training related to autismSCMC 3 assessment, as well as participating in the first round of assessments. And, now that the channels of communication between the doctors and the educators have been opened, it is clear that there is more need and more desire for collaboration that will benefit Shanghai’s children.

SCMC is currently developing a series of parent and teacher trainings on topics that affect the lives of children on the autism spectrum. Olivia’s Place therapists may have a chance to play a meaningful role in the second phase of this project as well, by delivering trainings on topics in which they have expertise, such as positive behavior support, sensory processing motor planning, and effective instruction. We are excited to join hands with the compassionate physicians at SCMC and the motivated administrators in Pudong’s public preschools so that we can support their efforts to reach out to Shanghai’s children.

See You in Tianjin Soon!

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Do you live in Tianjin or know a family there? We are very happy to announce that at the start of the new school year in August, we will provide services at several international schools in Tianjin. Services will be provided by the professional staff of Eliott’s Corner, our center in Beijing. As in Beijing, we will offer occupational therapy, speech-language therapy, and physical therapy services to families in Tianjin. Learn more about the professional staff at Eliott’s Corner or contact us with specific questions about our new service provision in Tianjin.

New Services for Premature and “At Risk” Infants and Their Families

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Babies who are born prematurely or who experience complications at birth have a higher risk of developing more slowly than their peers and/or having associated problems with their development. It is important to monitor the development of these children closely so any problems that may arise can be identified and addressed early and effectively. Pediatric physical and occupational therapists are specifically trained to do detailed development checks that are not included in a typical well baby check-up.

Olivia’s Place will offer an Infant-Toddler Developmental Follow-Up Program that will provide parents with the opportunity to meet with pediatric physical and occupational therapists during one appointment. In addition to a complete history and developmental assessment using standardized assessment tools, the appointments in our Infant-Toddler Developmental Follow-up Program provide time for parents and caregivers to discuss any concerns they have about their baby’s development. If no significant problems are identified, suggestions will still be given to parents to promote their baby’s development. Treatment or therapy for any problems discovered will be offered, as well as any necessary referrals to specialists.

The Olivia’s Place Infant-Toddler Developmental Follow-Up Program brings an additional resource to the pediatric services available to parents and medical professionals in Shanghai to ensure that all infants get the very best start.  To make an Infant-Toddler Developmental Follow-up Program appointment or to learn more about the services offered through the program, please contact us via email or at 5404-0058.


Olivia’s Foundation in Our Communities and Beyond

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Olivia’s Foundation provides financial support to offset the cost of therapy for children in need. In addition, the foundation is committed to long term projects and dialogue that will advance the quality and accessibility of pediatric therapy and inclusive education for children throughout China. The foundation also supports Olivia’s Place staff in Beijing and Shanghai who wish to find meaningful ways to engage in pro bono work, both in our centers and in our communities.

Chen Xu School

Chen Xu School is a migrant school is Shanghai that received a grant from Olivia’s Foundation this spring to further their mission of

Durga Dass, Occupational Therapist, meets with teachers from Chen Xu School.

Durga Dass, Occupational Therapist, meets with teachers from Chen Xu School.

building an inclusive school model. In the past month, staff from Olivia’s Place has provided 4 trainings to teachers at Chen Xu School. Educational Psychologist Laura Lofy provided an overview of special education and IEP (Individualized Education Plan) training to give both the mainstream teachers and special education teachers the context and strategies to providing inclusive education and how to develop an individualized education plan. Training on communication, sensory diet, and classroom management were presented by Speech-Language Pathologist Angela Gong and Occupational Therapist Durga Dass. A final training event provided an opportunity for Olivia’s Place staff to work with both teachers and students at Chen Xu, to model the use of Circle of Friends, a peer-based intervention approach that will be used on an ongoing basis and will provide specific support to the children with special needs who are enrolled at the school. In addition to formal training events, psychologists and therapists from Olivia’s Place have worked side by side with staff from Chen Xu School to develop individualized education plans (IEP) for the 3 special needs children that the school currently serves.

Clinical Psychologist Beth Kremer-Collins, with the assistance of volunteer interpreter Emily Yan, is currently providing monthly mental health consultation at Chen Xu School. In the course of her work at Chen Xu, Beth has recently provided support for teachers and parents to help a child who experiences severe separation anxiety and to address learning difficulties with reading for another student.

Shanghai Baby’s Home

Sarah Kirk, who leads our occupational therapy team, Educational Psychologist Laura Lofy, and Foundation Director Joanna Ren recently visited Shanghai Baby’s Home, a local foster care center for orphans with special needs. During the visit, Sarah provided consultation for a baby girl who has difficulty with the use of her arms. As a result of the visit, the Olivia’s Place occupational therapy team plans to work with several of the children at the home, as well as their carers, over the summer.

Collaboration with Kunming Medical University

Olivia’s Foundation collaborated with Kunming Medical University this spring to arrange for Susan Hermes to be a guest lecturer in the university’s occupational therapy program. Susan, a US occupational therapist with more than twenty years of practical, academic, and research experience, spent approximately one month at Kunming Medical University teaching 36 students in their undergraduate occupational therapy program.

Following her time in Kunming, Susan presented a workshop on US trends in school based occupational therapy practice at Olivia’s Place. In addition to Olivia’s Place staff, therapists and administrators of Shanghai Sunshine Rehabilitation Center and several international therapy centers participated as well. The workshop was very well received and a good opportunity for both the international and local therapists to connect and exchange observations and information.

Olivia’s Place Professionals Reach Out

Physical Therapist Marc Innerhofer is providing pro bono therapy services to children at Little Flower Projects  foster center for medically fragile children in Beijing. In Shanghai, Occupational Therapist Eva Steins is volunteering her professional skills to provide therapy for a local child with cerebral palsy. Physical Therapist Veronica Bosch is providing pro bono physical therapy services to a migrant child who has spinal muscular atrophy. Another family in Hubei Province who has a child with the same condition found Olivia’s Place through Weibo. Because there are no comparable services where they live, Veronica has worked with the family to develop a home exercise program for their child.