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China Daily Website

Autistic children and families need more help

Updated: 2013-04-03 11:15
( Xinhua)

BEIJING - A ray of hope entered Xiaoshang's life after her son said "mom" a few days ago.

"It has taken me four years to get him to say the word 'mom', which I have waited so long for," said Xiaoshang (a pseudonym), who has an autistic boy. She was speaking to Xinhua Tuesday, also World Autism Awareness Day.

"I was so excited. I carried him on my back and spun round and round ecstatically," she said with tears in her eyes.

For Xiaoshang, or parents with an autistic child, teaching and caring can be "hell," as children hardly react when their parents try to communicate or interact with them.

Parents and the child can feel separated, as the autistic boy or girl live in another world.

Children with autism are called "the children of stars," as they live in the world with everyone else but are lonely, lack emotional reactions, language and social skills.

According to a report released by China Philanthropy Research Institute, at least 1.64 million children in the country suffer from autism. The number in the world totals 67 million.

Parents in China face a lot of difficulties caring and bringing up an autistic child.

Various of hardship

Zhang Bo's (a pseudonym) child was misdiagnosed with autism in 2009.

"The news was like a bolt out of the blue. I thought I would have to take my child to a rehabilitation center and accompany him day by day, year by year," Zhang said. "I believe that the desperate feelings I felt at that time are similar to most parents when they are told that their child has autism."

Zhang added, "Families will bear enormous pressures, including mentally and economically. Only with long-term training can an autistic child gain some simple social skills."

Zhang Zexuan (a pseudonym), 14, has attended a rehabilitation center in Jinan, the capital city of eastern Shandong province, since he was diagnosed with autism when he was three.

He has made small improvements.

Zhang's grandmother, surnamed Guo, said Zhang is lucky, as he can repeat behaviors after treatment, such as spending time at a restaurant and ordering the same dish every weekend.

"I have accompanied my grandson to help him combat autism for more than 10 years, which has made me become a bit of an 'expert' of the disorder," Guo said.

"However, a lack of social awareness of the disorder has led a lot of parents to miss the best treatment time, which is from age two to six," Guo said.

A lack of well-equipped facilities, well-trained teachers and professional treatment as well as rehabilitation organizations make the environment for autistic children particularly harsh in China.

Guo said her family moved to Jinan because her hometown, Daqing city, the oil capital of China, had no rehabilitation center for autistic children.

Related stories:

70 million people affected by Autism worldwide

Chinese autism kids face misunderstanding

Nation marks Autism Awareness Day

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