CUHK Professor Appointed Autism Global Senior Leader for Hong Kong
To Strengthen Collaboration Between Local and International Autism Research Communities
Professor Catherine Wing-chee SO, Associate Professor, Department of Educational Psychology, has recently been appointed by the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) as a Global Senior Leader, their only representative in Hong Kong. Her future work will be dedicated to strengthening the collaboration between local and international institutions to push forward global autism research.
According to government statistics, the number of confirmed autism child cases in Hong Kong has been rising rapidly over the past ten years, and reached nearly 10,000 cases in 2018-19. Many of the children develop social and emotional issues. Professor SO has been studying the language and cognitive development of children, especially the gesture development in both typical and atypical developing children. She found that autistic children have a relatively weak understanding of and adaptation to gesture.
In 2015, Professor SO started an intervention programme using social robots to treat children with autism, which has now served more than 1,200 individuals with autism aged 3 to 18. Making use of social robots in educating children with autism represents significant innovation in both the health care and special needs education sectors. Robots can demonstrate repetitive scenarios which help improve the behavioural and emotional well-being of children with autism. With the support of the Sustainable Knowledge Transfer Project Fund (S-KPF) offered by CUHK, Professor SO and her colleague Dr. Sarah LUK have expanded the programme and established a social enterprise to serve a wider autism community.
Professor SO remarked, “It is my privilege to be appointed the Hong Kong representative of INSAR. CUHK will be the research base promoting and leading autistic research and academic links in Hong Kong and the Asia-Pacific region. We aim to build an autism behavioral and social communication database, eventually providing tailor-made and evidence-based intervention therapies to each individual with autism.”
About the International Society for Autism Research
The International Society for Autism Research (INSAR), founded in 2001, is a scientific and professional organisation devoted to advancing knowledge improving the lives of people affected by autism. INSAR holds annual international conferences to promote academic exchange, and in 2019, it established the Global Senior Leaders Committee to create a global network of senior leaders in autism research that aims to foster global research collaboration.