Welfare foundation offers troubled children hope

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

Sun, Jun 27, 2004 - Page 2

The First Social Welfare Foundation held a ceremony for graduates of its early-intervention program at the Taipei City Council Hall yesterday, opening the event with song and dance performances.

The foundation provides early-intervention classes for children up to six years old who suffer from or are likely to have problems with delayed mental development. The program provides assessment facilities, preschool education and life-skills training for children that are autistic, mentally disabled or developmentally challenged, in addition to working with family members to help them adjust to and accommodate their children's needs.

This year there were 68 graduates. After completing early-intervention classes, children are placed in schools and educational institutes based on evaluations of their needs.

According to the foundation, seven of this year's graduates will be following normal school curriculums in the coming school year, 38 will be attending special education programs at public schools or special education institutes, 19 will be going to regular kindergartens and four will be attending special education programs at kindergartens.

One of this year's graduates is "En-en," a six-year-old boy who will be attending special classes at Sha Luen Elementary School in Banchiao, Taipei County.

En-en, who suffers from severe cerebral palsy, cannot speak and has limited mental capabilities. After his disability was diagnosed at three months, his parents looked to Taipei's Department of Social Welfare for help. The department referred En-en to the First Social Welfare Foundation.

Thanks to early-intervention classes at the foundation's Ai-Chi Development Center, En-en's parents said, he is now able to interact socially and has improved his concentration abilities.

"During his three years in the program, En-en has calmed down and knows how to be around people. He used to cry a lot when he was around a crowd or unfamiliar people. After one month in the program, though, En-en developed a sense of security and he is really polite to people. He can't speak, but he tries, which is what's important," said En-en's father, who asked to remain anonymous.

The foundation has held early-intervention training programs since its founding 24 years ago. Besides providing early treatment and care, it provides life-skills training, occupational training and occupational counseling for developmentally-impaired adults.

To learn more, see the foundation's Web site at www.dayi.org.tw.