The “Ah Ha” Moments of the Week at YCHI

It’s been a busy week here! We were excited to see YCHI and meet the therapists for the week on Monday! The main center is beautiful! And the staff is so nice. They are all so excited to have us here this week. Mr. Zulfikar, the founder, came to visit us on Monday. We learned more about how YCHI came to be and their future! He is a go-getter; reminds me of my boss, Lee!! He is full of new ideas and wants to do everything he can to help the children! Mr. Zulfikar has a son on the autism spectrum. He was diagnosed at 18 months and around this time he made an oath to himself and God that if his third child were typical he would do everything he could to help children with autism in Indonesia. Several years later YCHI began and there are now 7 centers throughout the country and he continues to start new projects in Jakarta and surrounding communities helping families with children with disabilities.

We spent Monday getting to know the therapists and had a chance in the afternoon to go see Tuman Mini, which is a national museum in Jakarta. It’s a mini version of Indonesia. It sits on 150 acres and has structures representing the different regions and tribes. Shinta and Iffah from YCHI joined us, which was great because they were able to tell us the history throughout our walk through Tuman!

We finally got to meet the children on Tuesday! We began the day by observing the therapists to determine what skills we were going to train them on throughout the week. The therapists are amazing and from what I observed in a short amount of time, their skills are excellent and they are very eager to learn! Overall they are doing a great job of administering the tasks, and reinforcing and prompting. Skill areas that we identified to train on included physical structure, simple visual schedules and visuals, more on prompting and reinforcing, data collection, and identifying appropriate tasks. The therapists had a lot of questions for us about individual children they work with. We quickly figured out that problem behaviors were an area of need. As a group we were able to work together and come up with solutions coaching them and showing them examples of strategies to use. It was fun to see them all have those “ah ha” moments! I realized how grateful of the knowledge I have and to the people who have taught me. This is an opportunity for me to share it with people who need it, want it, and appreciate it! It’s one of the greatest gifts I can give as a professional in my field especially knowing that it will be helping the team at YCHI and the community of children!

We also got to meet a wonderful group of parents and teachers from the community. We gave a two-hour presentation on puberty-not the most exciting topic but a much needed topic to talk about! We had an amazing discussion with them and learned about their cultural norms. Many of the parents wanted to know ways to prevent the events of puberty even occurring (don’t worry I won’t go into graphic details)! This is difficult for puberty is a biological and natural occurring event that happens to everyone, even individuals with disabilities. It was definitely an eye opening experience!

As the week has continued we have worked together as a team; for example, one of the children, Zulni, does not like to sit in his seat and work. He would prefer to move around. His gross and fine motor skills are also very weak. The therapist’s goal is to have him sit and work so I began brainstorming with them ways that we could help Zulni sit. It was fun to hear their ideas and work together as a team. They know these children so well and they are so smart! We strategized and identified that structure was a priority, along with very short work time intervals. So Thursday morning we restructured his work area. We simply put Zulni’s chair up against the wall and slid the table up to him with a therapist sitting next to him blocking him from getting up. We are starting simple and will build from there! I’m happy to report that we had successful sitting! Zulni sat up straight, completed several tasks, and did not fight it! I can’t tell you how excited the therapists were! One of the best moments so far!

Our sharing sessions this week has focused on problem behaviors! As a social worker I never took behavior-specific courses but have learned the basics over the years from my colleagues and being in the schools in Kansas. As a team we prepared a great presentation that professionally I would have presented to teachers and staff back in the U.S. in 30 minutes; however we quickly realized on Wednesday that after two hours and only 3-5 slides in that this topic was going to take much more time. Watching Emily break down the information was amazing! To us it was basic to begin with, but for the therapists it needed to be broken down even more. She was able to quickly take the A-B-C concepts and define them and then have the therapists practice defining them with examples. From there we moved on to define the function of behavior, which was a more difficult concept to grasp. Again Emily was able to break it down and by the end of the two-hour sharing session the therapists were understanding and wanted to know more! The “ah ha” moments were throughout the room and were priceless to see!

As a consultant and coach with teachers and staff in schools I don’t always get to see the “ah ha” moments for in the U.S. we rush to fix a problem without making sure the person learning really understands what is being taught. In a job where time is limited and my team and I have an entire state to cover we cannot be there everyday to coach a teacher to that “ah ha” moment. But after watching Emily and Shinta this week teach the therapists, I have realized that there are simple ways to break concepts down that are understandable and more easy to grasp. My goal, personally and professionally, is to slow down and to think more simply when I coach others. For the “ah ha” moments are what are most rewarding to me!

Sarah Hoffmeier

SkillCorps Indonesia Team Member

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