Initially inspired by an 8-year-old girl with autism they met on a trip to China, Assistant Professor of Education Helen McCabe and her sister Karen subsequently founded the FIVE Project, a not-for-profit dedicated to bringing awareness, information and support to individuals with autism in China.
Now, the FIVE Project’s first training video has been completed. This video (the first in a series) was created for Chinese parents and caregivers who expressed a great need for quality information in Chinese about autism and autism relevant strategies.
“This project was inspired by the hundreds of families that we have met where so often the parents serve not just as caregivers but also as the primary (or only) teachers of their sons and daughters with autism,” says McCabe.
The first video, “Understanding Autism: Characteristics and Methods for Language and Communication,” was sent via e-mail to approximately 300 families in China, the United States and other countries, and the response is astounding.
“We have received thankful e-mails from friends, parents on FIVE’s mailing list, and students, teachers and parents who we have yet to meet who have seen the video,” says McCabe, who also will be mailing DVD versions of the video to several hundred Chinese families on the FIVE mailing list who do not have computers or access to the Internet.
McCabe also thanks Lindsey Hagan ’11 who performed much of the video editing for the project.
Established in December 2006, FIVE is a collaborative effort between the founders and board members who have career backgrounds and personal interest in adult literacy, special education and mental health. Founders and Board Members wish to help meet the need in China (and for Chinese-speaking families in the United States) for individuals with disabilities and special educational needs.
Because of a lack of awareness about autism and other disabilities, many families in China still face school rejection, social discrimination, and a lack of any type of support. In order to help address these problems, FIVE conducts workshops in China geared toward family members and professionals working with individuals with autism. FIVE also strives to raise awareness and support of people with disabilities by holding large, public events as well as smaller neighborhood events. FIVE provides written materials on this Web site and through mailings, and has provided two Peer and Family Support Groups for individuals and families of individuals with mental retardation, mental illness and autism since January 2008.
McCabe joined the faculty in 2004 and is an expert on autism and its relation to education, family and social change in the U.S. and China. Her most recent scholarly writings include “The Importance of Parent-to-Parent Support Among Families of Children with Autism in the People’s Republic of China” to be published in an upcoming issue of the International Journal of Disability, Development, and Education and “Two Decades of Serving Children with Autism in the People’s Republic of China: Achievements and Challenges of a State-run Mental Health Center” appears in the May 2008 volume of Disability and Society. She will begin work on the second video in January.