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Luo Dongyuan (left) and her husband show their grandson, an autistic child, how to make a mooncake during a workshop organized by the Shenzhen Autism Society on Sept 15 in a cake factory in Shenzhen. Huang Yuli / China Daily
Master bakers teach them how to make cakes in factory workshop
The Shenzhen Autism Society and the Shenzhen cake company Ichibenor organized a mooncake workshop for autistic children at the company's factory in Fuyong town, Bao'an district, in Shenzhen on Sept 15.
Sixteen families with an autistic child attended the event. Materials and utensils for making the cakes as well as a celebratory cake were provided free. Master bakers taught them how to make the cakes and dozens of Ichibenor staff members helped out. The families took home what they made.
Luo Dongyuan, the grandmother of an autistic child, said she was pleased with the activity that allowed her grandson to have a new experience and some fun.
Her 3-year-old grandson, known by the pseudonym Qi Qi, was diagnosed with autism one year ago after he was unable to say simple words such as "mum" or "dad". He has since been taking classes in a treatment center run by the Shenzhen Autism Society.
Luo said Qi Qi's symptoms were evident as a baby.
"He doesn't look into people's eyes like other babies and you don't see his attention focused," she said. "After he got a bit older it became obvious he wasn't understanding what was being said to him and he didn't play with the other children in our neighborhood. Sometimes he has a bad temper without good reason."
Luo said after being treated for more than a year he showed signs of improvement but she was still worried.
She believes her grandson has a tendency toward autism rather than the full condition and hopes he can be cured before the age of 6 since the best treatment time is from age 2 to 6.
"If he is older, 7 or 8, and still acts like this, there will be no hope of a cure," she said.
Zhang Jinghua said her son "had so much fun" making the moon cakes.
Seven-year-old Chen Jiaxin has been treated for autism for four years. She has taken him to two treatment centers and found the second one quite good but much more expensive.
"The cost for a month is 6,800 yuan ($1,071). I cannot afford that so I only take him to half the classes," she said.
"At that school parents need to accompany their child to all the classes and teachers write a report after each class. The teachers hold the children a lot of the time to develop their sense of being close to people because a major symptom of autistic children is that they are not interested in people."
Zhang said when her son was diagnosed with autism she gave up work to be a "24-hour nanny" for him and his little sister. The treatment fee takes up 80 to 90 percent of the family's total income. She says she is under huge pressure. The happiest time for her is to see her son making even the slightest progress.
"He gets on well with his teacher," she said. "One day, about 8 o'clock in the evening when it was already dark outside, he asked me to walk him to school, I didn't know what he wanted and when we got to school I realized he wanted to visit the teacher. He likes her. I was so moved."
Zhang said she doesn't care how much knowledge her son can master: Her biggest wish is that after treatment he will be able to take care of himself when he is grown up.
According to Shenzhen Autism Society, a social organization devoted to autism research and services, one in every 150 children suffers from the condition. In Shenzhen there are approximately 10,000 autistic children.
Wen Shuxian, general manager of Ichibenor cake company, said it was the fourth time the company held such a charity event. In August it cooperated with the Shenzhen-based public fund One Foundation, founded by the film star Jet Li. The Shenzhen Autism Society is one of the social organizations the foundation supports.
She said her company will donate 1 yuan to One Foundation for every box of moon cakes sold during this Mid-Autumn Festival. It has so far donated 67,972 yuan.
She said the company will continue help families with an autistic child, especially the parents because they suffer pressure both financially and emotionally.
(China Daily 09/24/2012 page22)