The number of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) cases (aged below six) diagnosed in Hong Kong is on the rise. In addition to core symptoms such as impaired social interaction and communication skills, ASD children often suffer from physical and mental health, as well as behavioural problems, causing difficulties in managing emotions, learning, establishing relationships, and creating tensions between parents and their children. Besides, teachers have concerns about classroom management given the behavioural problems of the students with ASD, which in turn hinder these students’ learning.
This pioneering project aims to reduce the physical and psychological impairments by implementing a 3-month Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) paediatric massage program to children with ASD aged three to six, and training caregivers to provide their children home-based paediatric massage. Chinese paediatric massage can restore the proper receipt of sensory information by improving the flow of their Qi, thereby relieving abnormal brain activities. This is a non-intrusive yet evidence-based alternative solution for reducing physical, psychological and behavioural problems in children with special needs.
The team also organises seminars and online education resources to train and assist parents and caregivers delivering home-based therapy.
Child participants demonstrated noteworthy improvements in their social and communication skills, attention, memory, even sleeping and eating patterns, and reduction in autism severity. Improving their overall abilities, physical and psychological well-being before they enter mainstream primary schools would bring positive changes to classroom learning and family interactions.
120 three- to six-year-old children with autism
240 caregivers of child participants
Catherine devotes herself to studying language and gesture development in children with ASDs. Besides lending the power of TCM, her RABI robots have helped over 900 ASD kids with their social and communication skills; the programme’s success was widely covered in the media. Catherine won the Hong Kong ICT Awards 2018: Smart People (Smart Inclusion) Merit Award and was one of the finalists in the Spirit of Hong Kong Award (Innovating for Good). She received her PhD in Psychology from the University of Chicago.
Jianguo is an expert in TCM massage. He specialises in TCM paediatric massage and adult massage. Being the sole disciple of an expert in Qigong, Professor Yongsheng, Jianguo is the third generation descendant of the school of pediatric massage established by Mr Sun Chongsan. His clinical research focuses on therapy for incomplete intestinal obstruction and coronary heart disease. Jianguo received his Bachelor from the Shandong University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. He held teaching positions in the Shandong University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Baptist University of Hong Kong. He joined CUHK as a Professional Consultant since 2013. He is also serving as an Adjunct Professor in the Shandong University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.