Clinician Profile: Anna Tan Pascual, Shanghai Occupational Therapy Lead

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Anna Tan Pascual, Shanghai Occupational Therapy Lead

Anna Tan Pascual, Shanghai Occupational Therapy Lead

Anna is a registered occupational therapist in the Philippines and Australia. She has a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy and Master of Rehabilitation Sciences, both from the University of the Philippines. In her more than 20 year career, she has worked in a wide range of pediatric settings. Anna’s clinical interests include helping children meet school and classroom demands, especially handwriting, as well as working with children who are blind or have low vision. She also invests time training local therapists and educators, believing that the knowledge and skills she imparts will benefit many children in China. Anna speaks English, Filipino, Fookien, and Mandarin.


How long have you been in China?

My husband, two children, and I moved to China in July 2014. Prior to that, we were here a few times doing volunteer work, such as in the earthquake-hit Sichuan province.

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

When we visited Shanghai in 2012, we contacted Olivia’s Place and were impressed with the vision of not only providing quality care, but to extend the same quality of services to local kids.  It is exciting to be part of a team that is even now changing the landscape of therapy services in China.

Why did you choose your field?

Anna provides a demonstration in 2014 at Xinhua Hospital.

Anna provides a demonstration in 2014 at Xinhua Hospital.

My brother told me occupational therapy is matching people to their jobs! I blindly applied for it and almost changed my course midway through, but then fell in love with the profession once we started seeing clients in the hospitals. I always wanted to work with people and being an OT has been so fulfilling. I enjoy being with the kids, and the chance to impact the lives of families is so rewarding.

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

In China, it has been the opportunity to work with welfare centers, particularly in one province where an institution serves 900 kids. I would like to work with orphans more, and it is nice to know my job in LIH Olivia’s Place will allow me these opportunities.

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

Being immersed in the Chinese culture, especially for my children. I like that living here affords our family to be up close and personal to the Chinese way of life – because growing up Chinese in the Philippines gave us a different type of culture, compared to the “real stuff” here in China (Anna’s ancestors left Fujian to go to the Philippines five generations ago).  Being in Shanghai also allows us to know people from many different nationalities, the same thing I like about working at LIH Olivia’s Place. People are always so interesting to talk to because there’s so much to learn from them!

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

At that point our children will be nearing university age, so I would like to see my husband and myself working in other parts of China, hopefully working mostly with orphans. I can definitely see myself working as an OT till I am old and gray!

International Cooperation Makes a Difference for the Smallest Babies

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Lis Ringrose, Physiotherapist, Chief Therapy Officer, LIH Olivia's Place

Lis Ringrose, Physiotherapist, Chief Therapy Officer, LIH Olivia’s Place

Xinhua staff practice new  skills.

Xinhua staff practice new skills.

One of the longstanding mission areas of Olivia’s Place has been to impact therapy throughout China and it is an area that is close to my heart. Earlier in the summer I was privileged to be part of a team leading a professional development course at XinHua Hospital. The course was jointly led with Pacific University, Oregon, US and focused on care for babies born prematurely. We were able to provide the course for free through a grant secured by the university.

The course was divided into two parts. The first was online study with articles and teaching materials to be read and assignments to complete. This lasted for four weeks with an hour online discussion with the U.S.-based professors each week. The second part was a three day workshop. The university professors flew over for this. I helped with translation, cultural adaptation, and coaching during the practical elements of the workshop. It was so encouraging to watch the skills and confidence of the participating therapists grow as they first practiced on dolls and then older babies and finally the very small premature babies on the NICU. Having therapists work on NICUs in China is more or less unheard of and everyone had the sense that we were all part of something new and exciting for the therapy professions as well as for the children and parents. When we asked when they planned to use their newly learned skills, ‘tomorrow’ was the answer. As far as we know, they will be the first service of this kind in China.

The course was considered a success by those who both taught and learnt on it. ELR XinhuaA second is already planned for this fall focusing on another skill area. It can also be provided with no charge due to the grant. We already hope that these two courses may be the beginning of something bigger and even more therapists can continue developing their skills in the future.

Deepening Partnership with Changning Special Education Guiding Center

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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!