China / Society

School to boost teaching for autistic kids

By Luo Wangshu (China Daily) Updated: 2016-04-25 10:27

A new training school for teachers and parents of autistic children opened in Beijing on Sunday.

The Tong Yi Shi Jie Education Institute for Autism aims to train 8,000 certified professionals by 2018 as well as provide online training to more than 50,000 people.

No official data on the number of autistic children in China is available. However, a national survey in 2006 by the China Disabled Persons' Federation found that about 111,000 children aged up to 6 had been diagnosed with developmental disorders.

Most of them were autistic, according to the federation, which said that in recent years the number has continued to rise due to greater awareness of the condition, among other factors.

This has resulted in a shortage of professionals trained in the skills needed to teach autistic students, said Wen Hong, chairwoman of the China Association of Persons with Psychiatric Disability and Their Relatives.

Specialist programs are available in China, but they differ from most professional training courses, meaning some teachers are better equipped than others to educate children with developmental disorders, Wen said.

Tian Huiping, whose son is autistic, founded the Beijing Stars and Rain Education Institute for Autism in 1993 after returning to China from Germany.

By 2013, the school had helped more than 8,500 autistic children and their families, and trained 1,179 specialized teachers. The Stars and Rain Insitute is also behind the new Beijing school, along with the Chinese Maternal and Child Health Association.

"Teaching autistic children is a hard job," Tian said, although she added that conditions for such teachers have greatly improved over the years.

Autism care was included in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15), the first time it was mentioned in the government's blueprint for social and economic development.

On Sunday, six teachers were also awarded by the Stars and Rain Insitute for their work with autistic children. The prize comes with the chance to study in the United States, sponsored by One Foundation, the charity organization.

"Many parents of autistic children have a deep concern, which is when we die, how can our babies survive? And how will society treat them?" Tian said. "Since last year, I think I can say I can die in peace because I know someone will protect my son's dignity."

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