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LIH Supports the Evolution of China’s Rehabilitation Licensure System

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Hu Dai, Msc OT LIH Director of Education & Training

Hu Dai, Msc OT
LIH Director of Education & Training

In China, rehabilitation health care began to become available in the 1980s, following rapid economic reforms. In the beginning, a few hospitals and sanatoriums were chosen for trial provision of rehabilitative care in 1982. By1987, the Ministry of Health required all Tier II & III (top level in China) hospitals to have a rehab department. In the 1990s, a few more governmental policies continued to emphasize the importance of rehab and equal support was given to the development of rehab as to other major health care professions, for example, internal medicine and surgery. During the same period of time, a licensure system for rehabilitation therapists was established. The system divides the qualification into three levels, including assistant (for those with a secondary education background), therapist, and senior therapist. Prospective candidates may apply to take the licensure exam after two years of practice and progress to a higher level gradually.


Currently there are about 400 educational programs for therapists in China, at both Bachelor’s and post-graduate levels. However, only 10 programs train separate therapists specifically in physical and occupational therapy (PT/OT), the rest train “general therapists,” which means the curriculum is a combination of physical, occupational, and speech therapies, and the graduates are expected to work in all three areas. Under this educational   Rather, the qualification is a general license for all rehabilitation therapists and the examination content is very PT orientated with a focus on physical modalities.


After years of endeavor, separate license systems for each profession are under development and hopefully will be in place in 2017. The current plan is to have specific licenses for PT, OT, and Pediatric Therapist. The Chinese Association of Rehabilitation (CARM) is leading the project, and the pediatric therapist license has the most development; it is suggested that applicants have 6 months of web-based and classroom-based pediatric therapy training before taking the license exam. This additional training is in addition to general rehabilitation education programs, which may provide insufficient training for therapists to gain the knowledge needed to pass the license exam. Although it is a specific license, the Pediatric Therapist license will remain a combination of occupational and physical therapies.


LIH is involved in all aspects of the establishment of Pediatric Therapy licensure and the associated training, including supporting curriculum development, creating teaching materials, establishing an online learning platform and face to face classroom delivery. The cooperation between LIH and CARM will continue to evolve over the coming year and with our successful contribution to the establishment of the Pediatric Therapy license, LIH will very likel participate in the future development of licenses specific to physical and occupational therapy.

WCPT Accreditation Provides Pathway to Global Standard of Education

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Accreditation service provides a pathway to a global standard of education

This article was originally published by the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) in WCPT News, January 2016. It has been republished with permission. The original article may be viewed at

The World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) has accredited two physical therapy education programmes in China – a country where the profession is at its earliest stages of development – to ensure that they meet internationally agreed guidelines.

The Confederation’s accreditation service is designed to assess programmes in countries where higher education providers seek to meet world standards. Started in 2014, it now has a bank of 39 expert reviewers, and has also reviewed programmes in Spain and Malaysia. Review teams are currently assessing programmes in Lebanon and China, and enquiries have also been received from Cambodia, China, Colombia, Haiti, Hungary, Jordan, Mauritius, Mexico, Nepal and Pakistan.

The programmes already accredited in China say the process has been an important one for them. Education programmes for health professions other than doctors and nurses have been slow to develop in China, and it was not until the country won the bid for the 2008 Olympic Games that permission to establish the first physical therapy programme was granted.

“Our vision has been to establish a local physiotherapy programme that meets international standards,” said Lijuan Ao, Chairman of the Department of Rehabilitation Therapy of Kunming Medical University. “So we inevitably sought WCPT accreditation. Now we have it, it means our students should be able to gain a more global view.” Professor Ao said she hoped it might also lead to more students studying abroad and gaining employment opportunities.

With government investment, support from the Chinese Association of Rehabilitation Medicine and advice from international experts, eleven entry-level education programmes for physical therapy have now been established in China, all modelled to some extent on WCPT’s guideline for physical therapist professional entry level education.

WCPT Vice President Margot Skinner was one of the reviewers for the first accredited Chinese programmes. “Helping China develop the physical therapy profession on the basis of international standards is a meaningful task and will significantly contribute to the health and welfare of nearly 1.4 billion people,” she said.

Margot Skinner is Chair of the WCPT Accreditation Committee, which advises the WCPT Executive Board on the accreditation service and the outcomes of reviews. Other members are: John Xerri de Caro, WCPT Executive Board member; Joan McMeeken, Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne, Australia; and Aimee Stewart, Associate Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.

“We want to ensure that the WCPT accreditation process for physical therapy programmes is rigorous, independent and transparent for those who use it,” says Margot Skinner. “WCPT has received many enquiries from countries where the profession is relatively young and where physical therapists are keen to ensure that, as the profession develops, education meets international standards. They believe that accreditation by WCPT, based on its policies and guidelines, will provide such an assurance.”

“The service is bound to develop over the years. We held a technical briefing about the service for member organisations before the 2015 General Meeting in Singapore, and the comments and feedback from that are being carefully considered by the Accreditation Committee, and will be fed into our planning.”

One of the programmes participating is at the Universidad Europea de Madrid in Spain. Beatriz Martínez, Director of Physical Therapy, says the university’s focus on quality means it has always been involved in different national and international accreditation processes.

“We have been teaching physical therapy since 1995. Having obtaining national accreditation a long time ago, we considered that our degree had to evolve and looked for an international accreditation to improve our quality standards according to international PT education guidelines. This is why we contacted WCPT to start the accreditation process.”

“We have been working together for nearly two years – first, to prepare all the documentation required and then last February the reviewers’ team spent two days with us and gave us very valuable feedback. Last August we were informed of the improvement areas we must apply to obtain accreditation. We have already implemented some of these and are now preparing a report to send to WCPT.”

“Throughout the process, there have been many learning opportunities for faculty and managers. Thanks to this accreditation process and the modifications suggested and applied, the quality of our physical therapy degree has improved a lot to meet the international guideline.”

The service provides an optional pathway for international recognition in addition to national programmes, or where a national system does not exist. It aims to contribute to the development of professional education internationally, leading to improved quality and availability of physical therapy services. “It also offers opportunities for more international collaboration for physical therapists,” said Margot Skinner.

Clinician Profile: Xiaoxia Amy Meng, Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician

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Dr. Xiaoxia Amy Meng, Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician, LIH Olivia's Place, Beijing

Dr. Xiaoxia Amy Meng, Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician, LIH Olivia’s Place, Beijing

Dr. Amy Meng obtained her master’s degree in pediatrics at Shanxi Medical University, China. She is a licensed pediatrician and has almost a decade of experience working with infants, children, and teens with common childhood diseases. She is now in the LIH developmental behavioral pediatric (DBP) training program.

How long have you been in China?

I am a native Chinese doctor and have been in the medical field for over 15 years and have worked in pediatrics for over 8 years. In addition to working in China, I spent a year working in pediatrics in Uganda, Africa.

Why did you choose to work at LIH Olivia’s Place?

I am a pediatrician – I love children, and have a passion for helping children with special needs, and guiding parents about parenting. LIH Olivia’s Place gives me the platform to improve my clinical skills in this field, where I can cooperate with clinician to give multi-disciplinary support for children.

Why did you choose your field?

As a pediatrician who has worked in clinical settings for years, I realize that there are huge needs from both children with special needs and parents who are willing to help their children. A significant difference can be made if early intervention is provided for children with special needs. However, there are limited learning opportunities for parents since developmental pediatrics is a relatively new field in China.

Children in China do not grow up in large families like they used to, so the family unit is very different to what today’s parents and grandparents experienced. Behavioral issues and family dynamics can impact a child’s development. Therefore, parenting skills play a significant role in children’s upbringing and education. I chose to be a developmental pediatrician because it allows me to guide parents and help children to bring out their potential.

What are some of the most rewarding experiences you have had in your chosen profession?

I feel touched whenever parents tell me their children have improved. My patients with cerebral palsy, twin sisters, one and half years old, significantly improved within a short period of time: they were able to raise their heads and move their fingers after two weeks of occupational and physical therapy. When they looked at me, my heart melted.

What’s your favorite thing about living in China/working at LIH Olivia’s Place?

My colleagues at LIH OP all work very closely, often we discuss  medical cases to give the best help for parents and children.

What would you like to be doing in 5 years?

I would still be in the field working with kids with special needs. I hope I can be a good DBP doctor.  Also I hope to have the flexibility to spend more time with family and enjoy life.

Changning Special Needs Center Focuses Training on Speech & Language

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by Sophia Guarracino, Speech-Language Lead, LIH Olivia's Place Shanghai

by Sophia Guarracino, Speech-Language Lead, LIH Olivia’s Place Shanghai

IMAG7572 (2)LIH Olivia’s Place collaborated once more with Changning Special Needs Center in Shanghai to provide training for professionals working in local schools across China. These trainees ranged from teachers, to therapists, to teacher assistants, most of whom work work with preschool or school-age severely speech and language impaired children. Over two days in November 2015, I presented three training modules related to speech language pathology: Assessment and Intervention, Treatment Approaches for Autism, and Oral Placement Therapy.

Throughout the training, trainees were inquisitive and eager to discuss to topics of interest. They were especially passionate to discuss autism treatment methods. At the end of my lecture on the first day, I facilitated small group discussions of how they can implement the presented intervention strategies in the classroom setting. The trainees discussed incorporating a more structured reward system to facilitate compliance. They were also eager to alter the classroom set-up and implement more visual schedules for students with autism.IMAG7563 (2)

At the end of the second day, two teachers from a school in Hangzhou toured LIH Olivia’s Place Shanghai to gain a more hands-on understanding of our speech-language therapy materials. We discussed simple, yet effective small classroom changes to better meet the needs of students with severe speech-language, and even behavioral difficulties. I hope that all of the professionals will be able to use some of the speech-language strategies when working with their students and were inspired by the presentations.

Sensory Exploration from the Kitchen Cabinets

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by Louise Roy, Learning Center Facilitator, Shanghai

by Louise Roy, Learning Center Facilitator, Shanghai

I think we’ve all heard of the benefits of sensory play, especially for children with special educational needs. Sensory play is basically any activity that stimulates your young child’s senses of touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing. Sensory activities facilitate exploration and naturally encourage children to use scientific processes while they play and create, by investigating and exploring the materials at hand. But let’s face it, when buying expensive toys or kits the costs quickly add up, and as parents and educators we are also often concerned with the unknown toxicity of children’s products.However, the ingredients for many ideas are already right there in your home. Do It Yourself (DIY) activities can be much more affordable, and are made of known ingredients (a definite plus for your peace of mind).

The first DIY to try is a staple in our household: homemade playdough! Playdough is very simple to make, and lasts for months if stored in an airtight container. My favourite recipe (incidentally also the recipe my own mum has been making for 40 years- thanks mum!) is as follows:



  • 2 cups of white flour
  • 2 cups of colored water
  • 1 Tablespoon of cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar
  • 1 cup of salt



  • Place all of the ingredients in a large pan (I find a wok works beautifully to evenly and thoroughly heat the dough).
  • Cook slowly on medium-high and stir continuously until the playdough thickens, darkens slightly in colour and loses its pasty consistency.


There are recipes out there which do not use cream of tartar, however this is one of the key ingredients because it preserves the playdough, and in my opinion is worth tracking down. You can usually find small jars of it at supermarkets selling imported products, or you can get giant tins of it on Taobao too.

If you only want one coloured playdough you can add a few drops of food colouring to the water before mixing. If you prefer to make several colours from one batch then cook first and allow the playdough to cool, then drop food colouring into the playdough and knead it until it is mixed through (pro-tip: wear gloves if you have an important meeting the next day!).

Once you have your playdough made you can step up the sensory experience by adding glitter, sequins, coffee grounds, sand, pasta, beans, or beads (watch for choking hazards with little ones). Playdough is also a great excuse to crack out the essential oils: it smells wonderful with a few drops added to the dough!


Another great experiment my kids adore is something we call:


“FIZZY RAINBOW TRAY”!  (ages 3 and up)

It involves, you guessed it, making a fizzy rainbow in a tray. For this you will need baking soda (bicarbonate soda), food colouring, white vinegar, a tray or deep sided plate, and pipettes (needle-less syringes or eye droppers from old medicine bottles do the trick too). For extra safety, this is one of those experiments which would benefit from safety goggles (or swim goggles!).


Method: Spread a 1-inch layer of baking soda in the tray, and liberally sprinkle it with drops of different coloured food colouring. Give your kids a cup of white vinegar and a pipette and have them drop the vinegar in the tray- it will begin to fizz and create beautiful rainbows in a previously predominantly white tray. Magical!




I’m always amazed how long little ones can play with a box of rice. You can buy special sand or water play tables which can be used for rice play, however a good sturdy plastic storage box with a lid works just as well (Carrefour or B&Q).


Fill with a few inches deep of uncooked rice, and give them different sized measuring cups for filling and pouring.


Make the rice even more fun by colouring it first: place one cup of vinegar (or you can use rubbing alcohol- it’s harder to find, but will leave less odour) to 1 cup of rice in a large Ziploc bag and add as much food colouring as you want to create the desired vibrancy. Have your kids help you shake and ‘schmoosh’ the bag around until the rice is evenly coated. Lay the rice out on a tray lined with baking paper until it is dry.


Rice play is loads of fun, but here are a few tips to avoid an all day clean up process: Ideally, play outside! If inside, lay down a large sheet or blanket under the rice box, or put the box inside an empty inflatable toddler pool! If possible, set the box up to play in the corner of a room, with the kids facing the corner- any over-exuberant shakes will hit the wall and go no further!


These are just a few ideas, but once you start looking around your cabinets (and online) for ideas you’ll see that there are many ways to make sensory play activities for your children, right there waiting in your home!

Panic Attacks: What, Why, and How to Help

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Beth Rutkowski, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist, Shanghai

Beth Rutkowski, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist, Shanghai

Panic attacks can be very frightening for both the person experiencing the panic attack and anyone who witnesses it. Simply put, panic attacks are periods of intense fear where someone’s body reacts with physical symptoms and intense thoughts. These episodes usually begin very quickly and resolve themselves within ten minutes. Panic attacks are not dangerous, despite the physical symptoms, and do not cause any lasting harm. However they can be very disruptive and confusing.

Symptoms of panic attacks consist of different combinations of symptoms for everyone, and include at least four of the following:

  • Pounding or racing heart
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feelings of choking or smothering
  • Dizziness, light-headedness, or feeling faint
  • Feelings of unreality or being detached from oneself
  • Fear of losing control, dying or going crazy
  • Sweating
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Trembling and shaking
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal pain or nausea


Panic attacks occur because your body is reacting as if it were in danger. Many of the symptoms would actually be very helpful if you were in a hazardous situation. If threatened, the body has evolved to go into “fight, flight, or freeze” modes. Blood is pulled away from your stomach and head to prepare your limbs to run or attack. Your breath gets heavier as you bring in more oxygen. Your extremities become sweaty and tingly as they are pumping with adrenaline. The problem is, there is no danger to be found. What has happened is that at some point, your body came to associate a certain situation with danger- even if none exists. Then it reacts with panic, even when there is no need.

If you witness your child, or any individual, experiencing the symptoms above, speak to them calmly. Let them know you can tell they are having a difficult time and that you are there to help. First, be sure it is not a medical emergency. If this is your child, you likely already know if they have a history with panic attacks or any medical conditions. If not, ask if the individual knows what is going on and look for any medical bracelets. If you are confident it is not a medical emergency, explain this to them.

In general, remain calm and speak in a reassuring but firm manner. Be patient and avoid any negative reactions to the panic- even though it is likely distressing for you to witness. Acknowledge that the terror feels very real. Remind your child that while a panic attack is frightening, it is not life threatening. Reassure them that they are safe and that the symptoms will pass. Try to maintain clear, slow speech and use short sentences.

Move the individual to a place where it is quiet and private. Stay with them throughout the duration of the attack and take cues from them as to whether they want you nearby, to keep your distance, or if physical contact is desired. If this is a situation that has happened before, behaving in a predictable manner will help your child remember that they have conquered these circumstances and will make it through once again. Help the person focus on the present by asking him or her to repeat a simple task such as raising his or her arms over the head. Help slow their breathing by breathing with them or by counting slowly to 10.

After the panic symptom subsides, comfort and reassurance are both important. Let your child know they are safe and that you are proud of them for getting through it. Help them understand what a panic attack is and why it occurs. Reassure them that effective treatments are available for panic attacks and that you will work together to find the right care.

Therapy for panic attacks is often rather brief is available through the Psychology team at LIH Olivia’s Place. For more information, contact Olivia’s Place at or (010) 6461-6283 (Beijing) (8621) 5404-0058 (Shanghai). .

Clinician Profile: Shirley Zhou, Speech-Language Therapy Assistant

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Shirley Zhou, Speech-language Therapy Assistant, Shanghai

Shirley Zhou, Speech-language Therapy Assistant, Shanghai

Shirley graduated from East China Normal University, where she obtained her bachelor and master degrees in Speech and Hearing Science. As a student, Shirley participated in an exchange program with the Speech-Language Pathology Department of Taipei Normal School, Taiwan, where she had the opportunity to attend various training with visiting professors from Hong Kong and the US. During her seven years of education, she trained in special education schools, hospitals, and other rehabilitation organizations in Shanghai. She has treated children with hearing loss, autism, Down syndrome, developmental delay, and other conditions. Shirley is currently available to provide speech-language therapy for Chinese-speaking children LIH Olivia’s Place in Shanghai. Languages: Mandarin, English



How long have you been in China?

I have always lived in China. My hometown is Hangzhou and I moved to Shanghai in 2008 to pursue my degrees.

Why did you choose to work at LIH Olivia’s Place?

Through my experience, I am aware of the huge demand for high quality therapy in China and I want to be among those who solve this problem. I choose LIH Olivia’s Place since it has the same mission as I do. I am really attracted by the professional team and multi-disciplinary approach here. I truly believe that working here give me a unique opportunity to be more professional. And it is a great chance for me to help more children in China as a Chinese speech-language therapist.

Why did you choose your field?

Unlike many who chose this field as their major, I was assigned to Speech and Hearing Science in my first year in university. As I learned more, I gradually fell in love with my major. When I saw many children with special needs, I realized that professional knowledge and skills are the keys to help them so I decided to keep working in this field.

What are some of the most rewarding experiences you have had in your chosen profession?

Since I am still new in this field, the most rewarding experience was the first time I was recognized by parents. I helped a little girl with her phonological problem. After several sessions, her parents were so surprised when they clearly heard their daughter for the first time. This made me proud and happy.

What’s your favorite thing about working at LIH Olivia’s Place?

Working with specialists not only having professional skills but also having enthusiasm to help others is my favorite thing at LIH Olivia’s place. The therapists at LIH Olivia’s Place have a lot of volunteering experience at local welfare centers, which greatly enhanced the quality of therapy in community.

What would you like to be doing in 5 years’ time?

In the first 2-3 years, I think I need to grow from therapy assistant to speech-language pathologist. I would like to have more opportunities to work directly with children. After that, I want to do more to promote the development of the profession in China. I want to help more people understand this area, to improve the ability of Chinese therapists, and let more Chinese children meet their individual needs.

Clinician Profile: Jamie Fanelli, Lead Learning & Behavior Support Specialist

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Learning and Behavior Support Lead

Learning and Behavior Support Lead

Jamie Fanelli has extensive experience working both with children with special needs and typically developing children in educational and clinical settings. She holds an M.S.Ed in Special Education from Simmons College in Boston, US, and a professional educator’s license. Before joining LIH Olivia’s Place, she worked as a psychometrician for the TRANSCEND Research Program, affiliated with Harvard Medical School and MIT, at Massachusetts General Hospital. As a psychometrician, she administered a full battery of neuropsychological assessments and diagnostic interviews and provided behavioral management support to infants and children while they underwent neuroimaging. Jamie has also been a special educator, with experience developing and implementing Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and Behavior Support Plans (BSPs) and educating children with special needs using an ABA methodology and a variety of instructional approaches, including PECS, sensory integration activities, differentiated instruction, and incidental teaching methods. She has provided reading support utilizing specialized instructional approaches and conducted educational and functional behavioral assessments. She has worked with children with a variety of diagnoses, including autism spectrum disorders, sensory integration dysfunction, dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD, developmental delay, seizure disorder, and traumatic brain injury. She is especially passionate about helping children from disadvantaged backgrounds and enjoys giving trainings to the local community. Jamie leads our team of learning support and behavior specialists in Shanghai and Beijing. She also provides the following services:

  •             Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy
  •             Individualized Learning Support
  •             Functional Behavior Assessments
  •             Functional Skills Assessment and Curriculum Planning
  •             Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Development
  •             Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) Development
  •             Behavior Consultation for Parents or Teachers
  •             Professional Trainings and Workshops for Schools and/or Parents
  •             Joint Neuropsychological Assessments


How long have you been in China?

I moved to Shanghai in October 2012. I’m originally from the U.S.A but have also lived and worked in Germany and South Korea.


Why did you choose to work at LIH Olivia’s Place?

I visited a few different centers and schools in Shanghai but chose for work for LIH Olivia’s Place for their multidisciplinary team approach and mission to improve therapeutic services in China. From the moment I met with the founder, Nelson Chow, it was clear that the center was dedicated to not only providing high quality pediatric therapy to their clients but also to building relationships with the local community to help educate the local public and spread therapeutic services and inclusive education throughout China.


Why did you choose your field?

In college, I worked at an inclusive preschool and was absolutely moved by witnessing firsthand how children with ASD could fully access the curriculum when given the right supports. It was a life changing experience and led me to focus my studies on children with special needs.


What are some of the most rewarding experiences you have had in your chosen profession?

Watching the pride on a child’s face when s/he has realized that s/he has accomplished a skill that s/he originally felt was out of reach. Also, in China, it has been especially rewarding to support the many parents and teachers through LIH initiatives who are unable to receive ongoing services. It’s truly worth its weight in gold.


What’s your favorite thing about living in China/working at LIH Olivia’s Place?

No one day is ever the same at LIH Olivia’s Place or in Shanghai. Even after three years, I discover something new everyday. It’s very rewarding to be a part of such a skilled and diverse team, who truly embrace the multidisciplinary approach and continuously support each other to help both the clients and each other grow.


What would you like to be doing in 5 years’ time?

I started my adventure in East Asia 5 years ago and could not be happier at the moment. I am very passionate about continuing to work in this field and see myself in an environment where I’m continuing to broaden my knowledge while helping children and their families and other clinicians reach their full potential.


LIH Olivia’s Place & NEW WAVE Partner to Provide Audiology Services in Beijing

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Peggy Liu, Audiologist for NEW WAVE at LIH Olivia's Place Beijing

Peggy Liu, Audiologist for NEW WAVE at LIH Olivia’s Place Beijing

This month, LIH Olivia’s Place will begin to provide audiology services in Beijing through a partnership with NEW WAVE European Hearing Solutions, founded by Petter Vibe and Daniel Balicki, two European audiologists. Peggy Liu, a highly experienced Taiwanese audiologist who was trained in Australia will serve as their main audiologist at LIH Olivia’s Place Beijing. Peggy holds a master’s degree in Clinical Audiology from the University of Melbourne and has 15 years of experience in Australia, Taiwan, and mainland China.


New Wave LogoFounded in Shanghai, NEW WAVE is celebrating five years of providing high quality audiology services in China. The audiologists from NEW WAVE can provide hearing tests, testing for auditory processing disorder, hearing tests for infants using otoacoustic emissions (OAE), hearing aid fitting and adjustments, auditory training, mapping for cochlear implants and arranging cochlear implant surgery with a leading hospital in Austria with extensive experience in bilateral implants for infants. In addition to audiology services NEW WAVE provides a full line of hearing protection including universal earplugs and custom made earplugs. Please call LIH Olivia’s Place at 010-6461 6283 to make an appointment.

The Blue Shirt: Why Messy Play is Important

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blue shirtIf you have visited us in Shanghai recently you may have noticed a very ‘messy’ blue shirt proudly displayed on the wall in the reception area. This blue shirt acts as a reminder to us all about the benefits of those tell tale signs of ‘messy play.’


Why is Messy Play Important?

Messy Play is an important part of early education. If offers many opportunities for learning. In designing a stimulating program for young children, it is crucial to foster growth in all areas of development.


Physical Development

Messy play gives children the tools to develop and practice fine motor skills and eye hand coordination. Activities such as stacking, pouring, and spooning develop eye-hand coordination. Practicing cutting, writing in shaving cream, and using tongs develop fine motor skills. Hands-on activities provide opportunities for children to compare textures such as smooth, rough, hard, and soft. While respecting each other’s personal space, children will gain an understanding of their own body space.


Communication and Language Development

During messy play, children have opportunities to speak and listen. They use words and gestures to share resources, explain actions, negotiate plans, and take turns. Teacher and caregiver will ask open ended questions to encourage thinking skills. The use of letters in the activities leads to understanding the symbolic nature of written language.


Personal, Emotional and Social Development

Messy Play is designed with children’s natural curiosity in mind. It encourages a positive approach to new experiences. There is no “right” way for children to do messy play. This builds self-confidence and self-esteem. Through messy play, children can develop concentration, problem-solving, and planning. Working with others fosters self-respect and respect for others. It also presents opportunities for making relationships. Messy play can offer an outlet for feelings, experiences, and thoughts.


Intellectual Development

Children will investigate, explore, design, and create, leading to a better understanding of the world around them. Children will learn to group and classify, arrange items in a logical order, identify and match, and understand cause and effect. As they observe, predict, try out solutions, observe the results, and evaluate information they gain a greater understanding of the scientific method.


Mathematical Development

Messy play offers many opportunities for counting, calculating, and measurement. The children will sort objects, fill containers, and create patterns. Numbers are involved in many activities, providing opportunities to understand their symbolic meaning.


Creative Development

Children are given endless opportunities with a variety of materials to build imagination and creativity. Through sensory experiences, they are able to respond to what they see, hear, feel, touch and smell. They will express their feelings and thoughts through color, texture, shapes, and forms in two and three dimensions.


Special Benefits

Messy play offers benefits to all children. It allows children of all abilities to become involved and get to know other children. Children who are in the process of developing early language skills can join in and use the materials with their peers because messy play does not rely on words. Since there is no “right way” to do messy play, children with special needs can use these open-ended materials in their own way and still be a part of the group.