Jamie Fanelli

The Empowered Preschooler Series at Wellington Bilingual

Olivia's Place Comments Off , , ,
Lead Learning & Behavior Specialist, Shanghai

Lead Learning & Behavior Specialist, Shanghai

During the month of April, Jamie Fanelli, Lead Learning and Behavior Specialist at LIH Olivia’s Place, delivered a three-part parenting workshop at Wellington College Bilingual to an enthusiastic group of parents and caregivers. The workshop, entitled “The Empowered Preschooler Series,” introduced learning principles that are key to understanding child behavior and provided strategies based on these principles. The parents and caregivers gained better insight on “why their child keeps behaving in that way” and were given ideas for addressing negative behaviors using positive methods.

During the initial workshop, “ABC’s of Behavior & Beyond: Connecting Learning, Behavior and Positive Parenting,” the parents were educated about a new way of looking at behavior. Ms. Fanelli introduced the basic principles that govern how children learn and discussed how these principles shape child behavior. The parents learned that the building blocks of behavior include antecedents, what comes right before or ‘triggers’ the behavior, and consequences, what occurs immediately following the behavior. The parents discussed their child’s problem behaviors with one another and learned how altering the triggers and consequences can change the behavior over time. They discussed how prevention should often be their first goal and learned how to identify and anticipate the triggers to their child’s problem behavior. Ms. Fanelli outlined some prevention strategies, including:

• Establishing clear expectations and consequences
• Giving their child more choices
• Redirecting their child’s attention to another activity
• Breaking down difficult tasks
• Helping their child prepare for transitions using time warnings and/or visual schedules

Ms. Fanelli and the parents then discussed the different types of consequences, or ways to respond to the behavior. Ms. Fanelli emphasized that traditional discipline around the world focuses on punishment; however, research has indicated that it’s far more effective to focus on reinforcement. In contrast, parents also learned that sometimes no attention is better than negative attention as attention from an adult is powerful and can sometimes increase the problem behavior. Ms. Fanelli suggested parents try ignoring inappropriate attention-seeking behavior, especially when a child is whining or pouting. Behavior management systems, such as reward charts, were also discussed and examples were illustrated. Ms. Fanelli emphasized that rewards should be linked to specific behaviors and always delivered consistently.

Ms. Fanelli then discussed the differences between positive reinforcement and bribery. She stressed that bribing children with the promise of a reward while they are misbehaving is ineffective and counterproductive. The parents and caregivers then actively participated by turning bad behaviors ‘upside down’ by looking at behaviors in a new light. They learned that almost every bad behavior they are tempted to punish could be turned into a positive behavior they can positively reinforce. For example, parents could positively reinforce their child when he puts away a toy as opposed to only reprimanding him when he doesn’t clean up. The parents learned specific ways to teach positive behaviors, including:

• Explaining the desired behavior to the child
• Modeling it
• Practicing it
• Positively reinforcing it.

The parents and caregivers returned on the second day to learn about “A New Way to Say No” and promote positive behavior in children. The workshop reviewed the building blocks of behavior and focused on using the power of positive reinforcement to improve children’s behavior. Ms. Fanelli emphasized that positive reinforcement is one of the most effective tools a parent can utilize and can be delivered in many different forms, such as praise, given a reward or access to a favorite activity. The parents learned the most effective ways to use praise and encouragement, such as:

• Be specific and tell their child exactly what they like
• Keep the praise simple
• Avoid combining encouragement with criticism
• Be very generous with it
• Use the magic ratio of 5:1—praise 5 more times than they criticize or correct

The parents left the workshop empowered and ready to try some new ways of using positive reinforcement that they discussed.

The third and final workshop, “Tame the Terrible Tantrums: Understanding and Responding to Challenging Behaviors,” outlined effective parenting strategies to use when responding to problem behaviors. The parents put on their detective hats and learned more about understanding why the behavior occurs in the first place: the child is trying to communicate something, such as ‘I want you to pay attention to me’ or “I don’t want to stop and clean up.” Ms. Fanelli reviewed and emphasized the effectiveness of positive reinforcement as well as the problems with physical punishment. She discussed that physical punishment, such as spanking, models aggression and often portrays the parent as the ‘bad guy’ rather than focusing on the bad decision the child made. Children often respond to physical punishment by hiding and do not always change their problem behavior. Extensive research shows physical punishment is harmful, counterproductive and linked to antisocial behavior and mental health problems. Ms. Fanelli outlined alternative strategies, including using logical consequences and time-outs.

Logical consequences are negative consequences for problem behavior that the parent decides upon and are logically connected to the behavior. For example, if a child throws a toy at his friend, the parents take the toy away. Ms. Fanelli emphasized that children are not born with an ability to make decisions and accept the consequences and therefore need lots of practice and encouragement to learn how to take responsibility for their actions. Ms. Fanelli encouraged parents to begin by targeting one to three problem behaviors and explicitly teaching the child the rules through modeling, role-playing, using photos, and providing consistent feedback and encouragement. She also emphasized to use positive commands by telling their child what to do instead of what not to do. For example, a parent may tell their child to kick the ball into the net instead of telling them to stop kicking the ball at me. Ms. Fanelli and the parents then discussed using ‘time outs’ as a way to increase the child’s compliance and decrease problem behaviors. During the ‘time out,’ the child would be taken to a quiet area free of toys and given minimal attention. ‘Time outs’ are widely recommended as they are effective, nonviolent and give everyone time to cool down.

The workshop concluded with a discussion about ways to improve children’s emotional regulation skills. Developing strong emotional regulation helps the child control his own behavior, develop empathy for others, follow directions and focus. Ms. Fanelli recommended that parents encourage children to:

• Label their and others’ emotions,
• Help the child identify the triggers that lead to the emotions
• Help the child identify the physical reactions, such as tightened muscles or difficulty concentrating, that happen afterward.

Throughout the workshops, the parents and caregivers shared their own experiences and asked several great questions about their child’s problem behaviors. At the completion of the workshop, they left with a toolbox of strategies and resources to better respond to challenging behaviors and promote positive behaviors.

For more information or to schedule The Empowered Preschooler o similar workshops for parents at your school, please contact Penny Fan by email or at 86 21 5404 0058/59.

To schedule an appointment with Jamie Fanelli, Shanghai Lead Learning & Behavior Support Specialist, please contact intakesh@lih-oliviasplace.com or call 86 21 5404 0058/59.

ASD Training for Parents and Teachers in the Community

Olivia's Place Comments Off , , , ,

asd-1Getting into the community and understanding the real needs of parents, teachers, and caregivers is important work at LIH Olivia’s Place. From 3-5 November 2016, LIH Olivia’s Place and Shanghai Changning Special Education Guidance Center held a public training on interventions for children with autism. Almost 50 therapists, special education teachers, parents, and caregivers participated. Three experts from LIH Olivia’s Place were invited to teach on autism spectrum disorders (ASD) from aspects of behavioral intervention, speech-language intervention, and occupational intervention, which enriched the participants’ knowledge of ASD and provided a great forum for communication.


Jamie Fanelli, Learning & Behavior Support Lead, delivers her presentation

Jamie Fanelli, Learning & Behavior Support Lead, delivers her presentation

On 3 November, Jamie Fanelli, Learning & Behavior Support Lead, spoke on Understanding and Supporting Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. On the basis of increasingly inclusive attitudes towards children with autism in the US, Jamie presented the main features of ASD as well specific behavioral intervention methods and shared her practical experience of behavior analysis. Two interactive games also added much interest to the lecture.


Yi Lien, Speech Language Therapist, interacts with participants

Yi Lien, Speech Language Therapist, interacts with participants

The lecturer of the second day was Yi Lien, Speech Language Therapist. Yi presented on Speech Therapy and Intervention for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. During her one-day training, Yi introduced speech-language features of children with ASD in detail and shared assessment and intervention strategies for speech-language. She also introduced a program called “Hanen: More than Words” to help the audience understand that there are different ways to communicate. The highlight of her speech was analysis of detailed intervention methods by using rich video cases, enabling participants to easily understand the principles and master skills.


Fengyi Kuo, an LIH Olivia’s Place Occupational Therapist who is also a Visiting Professor at Indiana University and Adjunct Lecturer at Shanghai University of TCM, presented Occupational Support and Transition for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder on 5 November. Her introduction of the concept of occupational therapy, sensory integration assessment, and intervention methods was warmly received by an attentive audience. Fengyi also helped participants solve practical problems in their daily lives or work during the Q & A session.

Fengyi Kuo, Occupational Therapist, answers a parent's questions

Fengyi Kuo, Occupational Therapist, answers a parent’s questions

Through three-day comprehensive training, experts from LIH Olivia’s Place brought practical experience which greatly inspired the participants.

LIH Olivia’s Place: Supporting Schools

Olivia's Place Comments Off , ,

supporting-schools-1Staff at LIH Olivia’s Place are always delighted to be asked to support partner schools. We were recently invited to speak to parents at Wellington Bilingual School as part of the events leading up to the Festival of Education in Shanghai.

Jamie Fanelli, Learning and Behavior Support Lead, spoke to parents on the topic of Understanding the Connection Between Learning, Child Behavior, and the Power of Positive Reinforcement. She introduced some learning principles that are essential to understanding a child’s behavior and strategies to promote positive behaviors.


Our physical therapist, Ilija Dimitrovosk spoke with the parents on the importance of physical activity for children in the early years age group. He provided theory behind the growth and development of young children as well as encouraging parents to participate when giving some exercise examples.


During the Festival of Education, leading experts from across the globe came together to discuss alternative approaches to teaching, as well as share their insights in educational thinking. Parents and educators were invited to join two days of talks, workshops and panel discussions in such areas as wellbeing, the relationship between Chinese and British education, Early Years, and classroom practice. LIH Olivia’s Place has a long history of supporting children, families, and schools and were honored to be involved in this initiative through sponsorship and opportunities for dialogue with educators, parents, and community members.


Our psychology team has continued to work very closely with the community at Dulwich High School. We are supporting their “Parent Academy” initiative by speaking on topics such as executive functioning and building relationships with teenagers. We regularly support the school staff by supporting career and professional development events and via professional supervision.

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

Olivia's Place Comments Off , , ,
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.


SSRC Parents Learn About Positive Behavior Support

Olivia's Place Comments Off , ,

Shanghai Sunshine Rehabilitation Center (SSRC) is the largest and most comprehensive nonprofit local rehabilitation center in East China. The center was unveiled in 2007 by Xi Jinping, former Secretary of the CPC Shanghai Municipal Committee and Hui Liangyu, the former Vice Premier. SSRC is located in Songjiang District and has over 300 beds. The center specializes in pediatric rehabilitation, neurological rehabilitation, orthopedic trauma, and sports rehabilitation. The site also contains the training center for the Shanghai Special Olympics.


Sunshine 3 Sunshine 6In December 2015, the staff at Sunshine invited Jamie Fanelli, Lead Learning Support and Behavior Specialist, to return to the center and give a workshop on positive behavior support. Several families attended as well as the clinicians from the center’s pediatric therapy department. The first part of the workshop reviewed the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis and introduced some key concepts to understanding and addressing children’s behavior. Jamie then introduced evidence-based strategies for promoting positive behaviors and teaching new skills. The workshop was a success, as several of the parents who attended shared their child’s behavior problems and asked informative questions. The length of the workshop was extended and many families stayed after to further discuss strategies with Jamie. She noted that it was an especially rewarding experience as many of the parents who attended were brought up with more punitive forms of discipline and had never heard of positive reinforcement and how it could be applied in everyday life. A few of families commented on how eager they were to further research the topic.

China Hosts Renown Autism Event

Olivia's Place Comments Off , , , , , , ,

2015 1107 -1On November 6th- 8th, 2015 China hosted the first ever Regional International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) Conference in Shanghai. Many well-known organizations and universities, such as Autism Speaks and Duke University, have been working with the Chinese government and universities with the goal of working collaboratively to improve the lives of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families as well to support and advance ASD research. The conference was a huge success as it allowed many scientists, clinicians, educators and parents from around the world to meet and exchange knowledge with one another and encompass global perspectives about ASD. Five clinicians from LIH Olivia’s Place, one from each discipline, created an e-poster on using an inter-disciplinary team approach for screening, diagnosis and early intervention of ASDs. They discussed the assessment and interventions highlighted with many well- known researchers, clinicians, local educators, and parents. Fengyi Kuo, Occupational Therapist, also presented an e-poster on transition and therapy services for adolescents and young adults with ASD. An LIH Olivia’s Place high school intern, Tiffany Lu from Dulwich College Suzhou, also participated in many informative professional sessions that this conference had to offer. In addition, the clinicians and other participants attended lectures on a variety of topics, many of which highlighted the huge progress that is being made worldwide in developing effective interventions and assessment measures for children with ASD.


LIH Olivia's Place IMFAR Delegation (left to right); Lis Ringrose, Chief Therapy Officer; Laura Lofy, Psychology Lead Beijing; Jamie Fanelli, Behavior & Learning Support Lead; Sophia Gurracino, Speech-Language Lead Shanghai; Fengyi Kuo, Occupational Therapist

LIH Olivia’s Place IMFAR Delegation (left to right); Lis Ringrose, Chief Therapy Officer; Laura Lofy, Psychology Lead Beijing; Jamie Fanelli, Behavior & Learning Support Lead; Sophia Gurracino, Speech-Language Lead Shanghai; Fengyi Kuo, Occupational Therapist

For Jamie Fanelli, Behavior & Learning Support Lead at LIH Olivia’s Place, the conference was an incredibly rewarding experience; she reflected that it  “reinforced why I personally love my job so much— the opportunity to move forward in improving the standard of therapy in China and positively impact quality of life for so many individuals with ASD and special needs. It was a true pleasure to meet and develop relationships with several of the world’s leading researchers in ASD and even more so with local educators, physicians and parents. All of whom are extremely dedicated to improving the lives of children with ASD and their families here in China.”


One of the more memorable experiences for Sophia Guarracino, Speech-Language Therapy Lead at LIH Olivia’s Place Shanghai, was listening to a parent question-answer forum. During this time, parents were able to ask any questions to a panel of presenters. Most of the parents’ stories were heartfelt, sharing feelings of being overwhelmed, helpless, and not knowing where to turn for knowledge to better understand their child’s condition. For Sophia, hearing parents’ stories about their children being asked not return to school “made it so clear that there is such as a need of more education and support for both Chinese families and China’s educational system, to better help serve the needs of these children with autism. That is why it is inspiring that LIH Olivia’s Place can help support this need as it continues to develop and spread the expertise in this field.”

Deepening Partnership with Changning Special Education Guiding Center

Olivia's Place Comments Off , , , , , ,
Staff prepare for an LIH Olivia's Place professional workshop at Changning Special Education Center

Staff prepare for an LIH Olivia’s Place professional workshop at Changning Special Education Center

Over the last school year, Olivia’s Place completed a training project about autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in cooperation with Shanghai Changning Special Education Guiding Center, a public organization which provides opportunities for career development for local educators who work with children with special needs. The trainings attracted many local school teachers and medical practitioners. Participants came from all over the city and neighboring provinces. The program content included childhood development, theory-based knowledge, and the sharing of clinical experience. Therapists from Olivia’s Place in each field of practice have made contributions to the project through interactive, inspiring, and practical presentations for all attendees:


  • Anna Pascual, Occupational Therapist Lead, introduced occupational therapy for children with learning difficulties.
  • Zili Wang, Physiotherapist, introduced how children with ASD benefit from physical therapy.
  • Jamie Fanelli, Learning and Behavioral Support Lead, introduced strategies and supports for academic success for children with ASD.
  • Yi Lien, Speech-Language Therapist, introduced speech-language assessment and treatment for children with ASD.


In addition to the multi-disciplinary ASD project, Olivia’s Place and Changning Center started a new series of trainings in the area of communication disorders. This project targeted applying clinical skills for different types of communication disorders in the school setting, including evaluation methods and comparison of different therapy approaches. These speech and language training projects were conducted by Angela Gong and Yi Lien. Both therapists have worked with Changning Center since 2013. The specific topics addressed included:


  • Heidi Gao and Jamie Fanelli, Learning and Behavior Support Specialist, field questions.

    Heidi Gao and Jamie Fanelli, Learning and Behavior Support Specialist, field questions.

    Children with autism spectrum disorder

  • Children with oral motor disorders/delays
  • Children with social and pragmatic impairment
  • Children with articulation and phonological disorders
  • Children with stuttering
  • Children with hearing loss


So far, we have received many greetings and positive feedback from the attendees of these projects. As a new school year comes, we cannot wait for new outreach and more collaboration with our partner organizations!