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Oakmont, Pittsburgh groups help train Chinese teachers to work with autistic students | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

Oakmont, Pittsburgh groups help train Chinese teachers to work with autistic students

Emily Balser
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Emily Balser | Tribune-Review
Zhihong Ma, a teacher from China, observes Danica Cannon working with 3-year-old Camren Sims on Thursday, May 9, 2019.
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Emily Balser | Tribune-Review
Jeffrey Knepp, 3, greets Lina Zhao and Cong Sun as they train on how to teach children with autism Thursday.
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Emily Balser | Tribune-Review
Haihui Li, a Chinese teacher, works with 2-year-old Lily Knepp, as she trains on how to teach children with autism on Thursday, May 9, 2019.

Five teachers from China are spending the month in Oakmont, where they’re working with autistic children to learn how to better diagnose and teach students with autism in China.

Southeast Asia Prayer Center (SEAPC) and Pittsburgh Behavioral Services, both nonprofits, have partnered to make it possible to bring the teachers to the United States and provide training through the Care Project.

“It’s been glorious — challenging no doubt — but wonderful at the same time,” said Matt Geppert, president of SEAPC. “I believe that, through prayer, God brings together the right people, builds the right team who know exactly what these people need.”

The Care project is a 10-year agreement SEAPC has with the Chinese government to help develop a standard of care for children with autism. They also work with the Beijing Association for the Rehabilitation of Autistic Children. This is the fifth year of the agreement.

“I really appreciate what the government of China is doing for the children of their nation,” Geppert said.

Rachel Kittenbrink, founder and director of Pittsburgh Behavioral Services, said the Chinese teachers learn how to identify children with autism, how to create positive interactions, assess their skills and work on social and communication needs.

“We do a combination of observation, discussion and coaching,” she said of the training.

Kittenbrink has spent nearly 20 years working with children and adults with autism and other learning and developmental needs. She has two autistic children.

The Chinese teachers will spend time in Oakmont as well as learning at schools and medical facilities.

Teacher Lina Zhao said she feels good about coming to train and learning new ways of teaching.

“We learned many professional and concrete skills,” she said.

Teacher Cong Sun said all of the people she’s learning from have been professional.

“Children can spend a long time here and change a lot,” she said.

All of the teachers are looking forward to taking what they’ve learned and putting it to use when they get back to China.

Teacher Guangli Hou, who is also a SEAPC volunteer, said they already see the impact of their new ways of teaching on students and their families.

She attributes the positive outcomes to their Christian faith. “We just want God’s love to help them,” she said.

Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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