Autism and Disability in China
Helen McCabe has studied education for children with autism in China since 1992. Her interest was sparked while she was studying Chinese and East Asian Studies in China and she volunteered at a childrenís mental health center in Nanjing, where she was introduced to individuals with autism and a physician who specialized in the complex developmental disability. Since then, much of her career has been dedicated to working with people with autism, understanding the disability and educating caregivers and professionals.
Her work has included teaching children with autism using methods of Applied Behavior Analysis and Discrete Trial Teaching. She has discussed these methods on educational TV shows in China, in interviews with international reporters, with Chinese teachersí groups and support groups for families, and when called upon individually by families.
Particularly in China, parents are looking for answers because of the shortage of schools for children with autism. Even at some of the few special education schools, teachers are often not trained to teach children with autism, she says. Over the past decade, McCabe has shared her findings primarily through teacher training and public lectures open to parents and professionals. There is a lack of general knowledge about this disability in China, and the parents who care for children with it have many fundamental questions. They do not understand the disorder, need moral support, lessons in behavior management and general teaching strategies, McCabe says. In the end, she hopes to give parents increased skills, knowledge, and also confidence.
At Hobart and William Smith Colleges, McCabe hopes to inspire future teachers and researchers. She teaches classes in Understanding Autism, Disability in China, and Disability, Family and Society, as well as courses introducing students both to China and to special education in general. She plans to publish a book on her research about families and civil society organizations in China, and will continue to spend a few months in China each year, conducting research and giving lectures.
McCabe in the News:
Interview opportunities and additional background information may be requested through the Office of Communications, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York. Phone: (315) 781-3540. After business hours, Communications staff members are accessible through contact information on their answering machine at that number.
Helen McCabe, an associate professor of education at HWS since 2004, holds a Ph.D. from Indiana University, where she studied special education and international/comparative education. She also holds a masterís degree from Washington University in St. Louis and a bachelorís degree from Middlebury College, both in East Asian Studies.
In 2005, she was selected by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations for its new Public Intellectuals program. This program provides fellows with access to policymakers, civil society, business and other leaders in China and the United States, and is a professional development opportunity for the new generation of China scholars in the United States.
McCabe is the co-author of "Disability and family in China: Implementation, benefits, and comparison of two mutual support groups," published in the Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, as well as "Autism in a family in China: An investigation and ethical consideration of sibling issues," published in the International Journal of Disability, Development, and Education. Additionally, she authored "Bamboo shoots after the rain: Development and challenges of autism intervention in China," in Autism: The International Journal of Research and Practice.
Her professional affiliations include the Council for Exceptional Children,
Association for Asian Studies, Comparative and International Education Society and
TASH, an international association that works toward building inclusive communities through research, education and advocacy.