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Children with autism get chance to flourish

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-04-16 06:29
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GUIYANG — Zhao Xinling likes to tell her son, whom she affectionately calls Hao Hao, one particular story. At bedtime, a little hare asks a big hare to guess how much he loves him, and the little hare says, "I love you all the way to the moon."

"I tell my son, 'Mom loves you, from here to the stars'," says Zhao. "Although I have been teaching him how to say 'mom' every day, he is still unable to say the word. He is now 24 years old."

Like many parents of children with autism, the 64-year-old has faced challenges and worked hard to help her son since he was diagnosed with severe autism at a very young age.

She is the founder and principal of the Loving Home for Children Special Education and Rehabilitation Center in Guiyang, capital of Southwest China's Guizhou province. It is the first autism rehabilitation institution in the province, and Zhao is also a teacher there.

Over the years, she has provided support to more than 7,000 children with autism. She has witnessed the autistic community flourish — from being under-recognized to being increasingly understood and accepted — and she has seen how the community is gaining more support from broader society.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by varying degrees of impairment of communication skills and social interaction. Children with autism are sometimes called "children of the stars" in China, as society often perceives them as lonely, and they can exhibit unconventional emotional reactions, language abilities or social skills.

This year's World Autism Awareness Day fell on April 2. A report on autism education showed that in 2019, there were more than 10 million people with an autism spectrum disorder in China, among whom about 2 million were children aged under 12.

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