Autism Internship in China – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Autism Internship in China

William Smith senior Lindsey Hagan is making an impact for children with disabilities in China and their families as an intern with The Five Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the capacity of disability organizations in that country. It is Hagan’s job to help create videos that will be used to educate families and organizations across China.

This past year, Hagan worked with Assistant Professor of Education Helen McCabe in creating autism training videos that have been viewed by thousands of teachers and families in China. McCabe, who is also the co-founder of The Five Project, later asked Hagan if she would be interested in going to China to film a training video.

“When I heard about the project going to China and the internship opportunity, I jumped at the chance,” says Hagan. She and the rest of the team spent three weeks in Nanjing conducting a teaching program for instructors at an organization that serves young children with autism. The purpose of the program was to enable local teachers to become more qualified and confident in providing effective advising to children with autism. Hagan filmed while the rest of the team observed and commented on the teachers’ methods and gave lectures.

“Lindsey was a key member of the team” says McCabe, “During the three weeks, she filmed and edited video that will be used for the teachers at this organization as well as be provided to other professionals around China”.

For the rest of the summer Hagan will be developing new training materials and editing footage to continue distributing videos. “It was great to get a chance to meet the families I was sending videos to. They were all very grateful to us for being there helping and bringing information and feedback,” says Hagan. “To help the families directly was thrilling.”

After the success of the first trip, Hagan and the rest of the team hope to go back in December to conduct another teaching program and continue filming. “The status of the school when we first got there was drastically different than when we left. Before, there was a lack of confidence in the teachers; it wasn’t that they didn’t want to help, they just didn’t know how. After, they were more confident and so were the parents in their kids. The program helped the teachers to realize their ability and their full potential. The students, as well, showed improvement,” explains Hagan.

On campus, Hagan is just as passionate about education. She is the America Reads Coordinator and a member of the Laurel Society and Civic Leaders for Literacy. She is majoring in psychology with a minor in education and child advocacy.

Hagan’s trip was funded by the Young Fund for International Peace and Understanding, and funds from the Provost’s Office.