According to the Hong KongReview of Rehabilitation Programme Plan (1994/95-1998/99) bythe Rehabilitation Division,Health and Welfare Branchof the Hong Kong Government Secretariat, the guiding document on development of local rehabilitation provision, the following definition for physically handicapped persons has been adopted :
A physically handicapped person is defined as a person who has a disability of locomotor and neurological origin which constitutes a disadvantage or restriction in one or more aspects of daily living activities, including work.
However, from the educational point of view, not all pupils with physical disabilities require special school provisions. There may be variations in duration or severity among physical disabilities. In other words, the handicapping conditions may be temporary or permanent and mild or severe. Physically handicapped children may be multiply handicapped with mental handicap, visual or hearing impairment.Based on the principles of provision of special education as stipulated in theWhite Paper on Rehabilitation 1995, for children with a disability who cannot benefit satisfactorily from education in a mainstream setting in an ordinary school, there are the provisions of special schools and special education classes in ordinary schools. Following this guiding principle, provisions listed below have been offered:
1. Special school provision for school age children with physical handicaps or their associated problems which result in their inability to withstand ordinary school routine and environment. 2. Ordinary school placement with supports like centre-based resource teaching,peripatetic teachingand advisory service from theResource Help Service forPhysically Handicapped Pupils Integrated in Ordinary Schools of the Services Division of the Education Department. 3. Hospital School teaching service for school age children staying in hospitals andhome-based teaching service for home bound children who cannot attend school because of physical reasons.
3.2.1 Mobility and Physical Fitness
Physical handicaps may cause various degrees of weaknesses and inco-ordination of the limbs which may affect mobility, posture and manual dexterity. Other physical problems such as heart diseases may cause poor exercise tolerance and low level of physical fitness. All these may directly result in pupils' difficulty to cope with ordinary school routine and limit their ability in exploring and understanding the environment.
3.2.2 Perception and ConcentrationBesides the above mentioned motor problems,neurological impairment may also cause sensory deficiency or over stimulation which may disturb perception and concentration inducing specific learning difficulties for the pupils.
One associated disability among physically handicapped children, cerebral palsied children in particular, is mental handicap. As cited in the report of a survey conducted in the 95/96 school year by the Sub-committee on Special Education of the Board of Education, 56% of the pupil intake in schools for the physically handicapped are mentally handicapped.
3.2.4 CommunicationCerebral palsy, late stage of muscular dystrophy and facial burns may affect the pupils' ability inverbal communication. On top of this, theirnon-verbal communication may also be affected because these conditions may limit their facial expression and ability in signing.
The disadvantageous position in which physically handicapped pupils are placed may cause them some of the emotional problems including low self-esteem, lack of self-confidence, fear of changes in environment, apathy, over dependence on others, low level of aspiration, anxiety and frustration. Some brain damaged children may also be hyperactive, aggressive or lack of emotional control.
Based on the above possible effects of physical handicaps on children, their education programmes must be so designed as to help them overcome their physical handicaps and associated difficulties. For details of other effects of physical handicaps, please refer to Appendix 1
It has been stated in the Information Sheet on Special Education issued by the Services Division, Education Department that the general aim of special education in Hong Kong is to provide children having special needs with education necessary to help them develop their potential to the full, achieve as much independence as they are capable of, and become well adjusted individuals in the community.
The general aim of education for physically handicapped pupils focused on the total development of pupils is similar to that for special education on the whole. Nevertheless, targeted at the specific needs of physically handicapped pupils, there are the following specific aims to consider when planning the curriculum :
To offer them a general education in ordinary, special day or special residential school setting according to their needs.
2. To prepare them for integration into ordinary schools or society, and to meet their psychological needs for security, love and affection, acceptance and success. 3. To teach them the basic daily living skills for independent living. 4. To help them realize their limitations and their potential and hence develop a realistic and positive outlook towards life. 5. To cultivate interests and hobbies for improving their quality of life. 6. To enhance theirsocial development including theirinter-personal relationship. 7.
To provide them with medical and other auxiliary services such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, career andvocational counselling.
To compensate for their loss of life experience due to mobility difficulties through organized excursions and outdoor activities.