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Cheeky Kids Exclusive Interview with Chris Tan

Together with CheekyKids, we transform and improve the data collection system of children’s behaviour for the benefit of parents, learners and therapists using the BeED LMS.

Through this interview, we aim to dive deeper on how BeED helps CheekyKids in terms of therapy and sessions. 

  1. Can you give us an introduction of CheekyKids – what does your company do and who is the target audience of your company?

CheekyKids is a behavioural service centre, or rather, an autism centre. We do home-based therapy for autistic children aged 3-21 years old. We focus more on ABA therapy to carry out behaviour intervention.

ABA is a form of behavioral analysis /intervention from theories of conditioning used to help in terms of reducing negative behaviors. 

We do a lot of self-help programs involving toilet training, showering, eating or even academic programs such as writing, reading and so on. We also do school readiness programs for kindergarten and primary aged learners.

Autistic learners tend to lack fine motor skills such as understanding concepts of cleanliness, or even why it is important to shower. For most students we cater to, simple tasks such as showering is a difficult task to master, so we tend to emphasise on areas such as hygiene. Some learners may also have issues with sensory elements such as water. They may tend to get distracted with the sensation of water. They may also have problems carrying out academic tasks such as drawing, identifying alphabets, counting and so on. They may even need help understanding concepts of time. It is thus our responsibility to help these students understand these concepts. 

  1. How did you run your activities before using BeED? What is the general workload for your therapists without the use of the app?

Mainly, the therapist uses the app to update the parents about session notes and daily reports. Daily activities are being uploaded into the app, and the therapist uses the app for learners who are familiar with tablet usage to identify words, objects and so on. 

  1. How can we train kids if they are not familiar with tablets? 

We first pair the tablet with something fun such as youtube, because they are more familiar with that particular app. It is easy for us to train the students to use the BeED app as we can just choose one out of 3 images so they are able to focus better, with their parents supporting them. 

  1. What is the primary reason for moving towards an online learning module?

The major idea is convenience. During MCO, most schools and centers were forced to adapt because of social distancing. It will be more convenient for parents to access all session notes on one platform. Previously,  these were sent via whatsapp, so it was difficult to keep track as chats can get quite messy. So with the app, therapists and parents can track the progress better in one place. 

Our approach is first to appeal to the parent and then next to the therapist.

Therapists will assist the child to focus and on which images to choose in the app during the identification activity.

Parents will be able to do the same activity at home with the child without physical materials such as flash cards.

  1. How important is it to practise out of therapy? 

Consistency is the best form of practice. Learners need repetition to pick up things because their attention span is shorter or they get easily distracted.

Therapy consistency is further helped with the application of the BeED app instead of physical materials. For parents, they would need to prepare fewer things for the same therapy activities as reinforcement.

  1. How did CheekyKids cope throughout the lockdown?

We received approval from MITI, so we can do home based therapy. Learners who attend classes in centres lack the opportunity to practise daily routines and school programmes in the academic field.

Learners lack the opportunity to play as well as therapists need to bond with them, so they do not get as much attention as they should. 

We rarely use Zoom or online learning platforms as these learners have difficulty in communication. Some kids need physical attention to assist them in responding to instructions. If we use an online platform, we need parents or caretakers to assist them. Things need to be aligned without physical assistance.

Crafting Activities in BeED  

  1. Describe your experience when creating lessons in BeED.

We’ve had mixed reviews. Therapists had to create multiple question templates to suit the specific child’s learning curve. Therapists are doing that by trial and error, because some children may get triggered by the same image, so they have to change accordingly to suit the child’s learning style.

The toughest part is not what to teach but how to teach, and finding the effective ways to get the child to learn.

  1. Were the lessons helpful in the interaction between learners and therapists?

Overall, it’s been positive and helpful. Kids associate the app with fun time, as it mimics the same experience of using the tablet and app when they find the images that they can select. 

  1. Did you use the multimedia capabilities of the BeED Ecosystem? How helpful did you find it in therapy sessions?

It is useful but uploading is quite a hassle. However, everything is organised and it is easier for therapists to control the content for kids. The lesson structure is helpful for the kids when interacting with the therapists.

Customising maps is still in the experimental phase.  The therapists will create them for parents’ to look at the daily reports. For kids, if they were to put images on maps, they need to make sure the kids understand that selecting different points leads them to another map, so they need to eliminate the factors that hinder their learning. 

The editing process is very useful, as they don’t have to switch to another platform to edit the contents. It really is a lot more convenient, as therapists can change the content from time to time in an easier way.

Parent/Learner Interaction with BeED

  1. How has the pandemic affected your learners?

Schools and centres, daycares, and every education centre have had to close due to the pandemic. It’s difficult for therapists as they can’t be physically present to coach the children. Kids in general faced significant regression in playing, and we’ve seen some negative behaviour reappear. Kids are having less fun as they can’t go out to the park or mall. It is a huge impact for general kids. Certain parents might have home based services. Parents of children with special needs have to attend to the kids more, as they need to put in extra effort for kids to catch up in their learning and daily routine.

How can we make kids understand the pandemic and how do we help them deal with it? Going outdoors has become a need. This need has been taken from all of us. Therapists have to train them how to properly wear masks, as they might be uncomfortable and try to take them off or pull them down. Some kids lick, bite the mask or even take off the mask within 10 seconds. No one likes to wear a mask, but we have to. Therapists need to explain to kids that there’s a virus going around, and the only way to play is to play indoors and to get kids to adapt to the new situation. Certain kids are so rigid and they insist on going outdoors, so it’s sad to see them locked in. Therapists would have to find more fun activities to be done at home to make kids understand that things can be done at home as well, such as gross motor exercises to preserve the childhood experience of being active.  They can suggest these indoor activities to let them understand that it’s still possible to have fun at home. 

  1. How did the parents and learners find interaction with the BeED App? Did the parents find the BeED app helpful in being informed about what the learners learn about?

We’ve had mixed reviews. There are parents who love the app because everything is centralized and they get to view everything on the same platform. But some parents have other school apps to maintain as well so it’s hard for them to familiarize with a new app. They prefer Whatsapp because they spend most of their time there.

Some of them don’t even have the time to check the app, so their responses are slow because they are busy. 

  1. Was the BeED app interface simple enough for the learners to follow?

Students need guidance from therapists on how to navigate the lesson. Therapists need to make sure kids understand that selecting different points leads them to another map, to eliminate the factors that hinder their learning process. 

Final Notes

  1. What is your plan for CheekyKids moving forward?

We want to lighten the load in providing essential information for parents and learners to provide proper help that they require.

  1. Do you plan to expand to support kids outside of ASD? 

Of course, we cater to individuals with difficulties in maintaining their behaviours and academic difficulties. We will try to cater to all sorts of SPED.

  1. What would you like to achieve with BeED?

The convenience on both sides of parents and the therapists, such as parents viewing daily updates from the app. Therapists have the convenience to upload the reports on app as well. Currently everyone is adapting to the app. It may take some time though, as using an app for SPED is currently still a novelty. 

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