In preparation for World Autism Awareness Day [on Friday April, 2, 2010], health facilities in China offered free check-ups and information on autism. This information was presented by way of the report style forms, speeches and training sessions.
World Autism Awareness Day was created to help emphasize the importance of early detection and prevention of autism. Unfortunately, China and many other countries still have a limited amount of help available.
According to a series of non-government studies, at least 1-million Chinese children have autism.
Although the Chinese government statistics state that one in 250 children have autism, many other non-governmental autism professionals beg to differ. Rough estimates from several different reports, state that the incidence rate could be as high as one in 100 children for both sexes, and one in 68 for boys [boys stats in the U.S are 1 in 58]. By simple math alone, using the numbers of the non-government studies, it is easy to see how when China’s immense population (at least four times the size of the U.S.) is factored in, there are more individuals in China that suffer from autism.
China Disabled Persons’ Federation
Since 1982, China has been fully re-cognizant of autism spectrum disorder and in 2006 the Chinese government added autism as a disability. In response, China Disabled Persons Federation was formed in 1988. In 2009, the China Disabled Persons Federation set up rehabilitation centers for children with autism in 31 Chinese cities.
In addition, the Chinese government dedicated 725 million Yuan to 60,000 handicapped preschoolers from poor families. This particular funding only helped 1,200 children with autism.
Beijing Wucailu Rehabilitation and Research Center
Meanwhile, in Northern Beijin, Sun Menglin has been running the private school, Beijing Wucailu Rehabilitation and Research Center since 2004. The center’s mission to provide training for autistic children and their caregivers has resulted in benefitting thousands of children with autism. But, Sun foresees problems in the Center’s future.
She says that the center “suffer[s] a severe brain drain. Many of our best teachers have resigned over the years for better-paid and less stressful jobs. Some of them have been hired as private teachers and earn more than 200,000 yuan a year.”
While Sun also comments that private tutoring is more effective on improving children with autism’s academic performance, it also prevents their need for social interaction and introducing them into society as they age.
The Beijing Wucailu Rehabilitation and Research Center offers training programs (spanning over three-months in length) and servicing both children with autism and their parents. For example, while the children take part in exercise, music, painting, simple skills like getting dressed, and interactive games, the parents are trained in how to teach and handle their special-needs child or children.
Sun comments “No public school in China trains teachers exclusively for autistic children as far as I know,” Sun continued to say that, “It’s in everyone’s interest that these children grow up to be independent citizens.“
Sun continues to fight autism as her new campus just opened in the northeast suburbs of Beijing.