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A Typical Class

On an average day three two-hour long classes each with 16 students, most of whom have autism spectrum disabilities. That means they often have expressive language disabilities (cannot speak), behavioral issues and may have medical challenges like seizures, tachycardia (heart rate suddenly triples) or overheating. Before class starts the teacher places a tub file for each student on each table and checks that necessary clothing and objects are available. Things start when a bus or van arrives and we get a head count of students and their aides from the driver. We use biometrics to check everyone in – we currently use multiple fingertip readers to keep the bottleneck to a minimum.


The SAITO software sends emails to designated parents, schools or other third parties indicating the student did (or did not) arrive.

If we are expecting a guest viewer or teacher there will have been a poster of him or her in view on the way to the practice area. Students have added the habit of touching a portrait of Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei. The significance remains elusive.


Four days a week students dress informally – that usually means a school t-shirt and traditional black pants. Once a week or so students dress in semi-formal black cotton uniforms (leftmost of the images below) for film that will be sent to outside reviewers. If we have a guest, or there is a dress rehearsal or an exhibition, then everyone dresses in full formal silks (center and rightmost of the images below).