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Fund to help parents of autistic children

By Ma Chi | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-04-01 14:17

China Children and Teenagers' Foundation has set up a new fund to support parents of children with autism.

The charity launched the new fund, called "Speak for Love", ahead of World Autism Awareness Day on April 2.

CCTF secretary general Zhu Xisheng said the fund will provide a platform for parents of autistic children to connect and help each other with the guidance of experts, helping children with autism better integrate into the society.

Many parents failed to identify their children's condition at an early stage and struggle to face up to it after diagnosis, which delays treatment, Jia Meixiang, an autism expert with Peking University Sixth Hospital, said.

Jia called for a greater public awareness of autism and more social support provided to autistic people and their families.

It is estimated that there are more than 10 million people suffering from autism in China. Among them, more than 2 million are children aged 0 to 14. The population is growing fast, with nearly 200,000 people diagnosed with the disorder every year.

Autism is a developmental disorder of the brain that affects an individual's ability to communicate with others. Children with autism usually develop their language skills later than normal children.

Because those with autism lack the necessary capacities for social interaction and are unable to take care of themselves, they require special care even after they grow up. This puts a heavy burden on the families of those with autism, because of both treatment and daily nursing.

Jia said that contrary to the perception that all autistic children have unique skills, only a small number of people with autism have special talents in arts, mathematics or other fields.

She said that although a small number of children with autism can reach higher education levels, in most cases, parents of children with autism should aim to help them grasp basic living skills.

Another expert said that more professional therapists are needed to improve the welfare of children with autism and their families.

China has an acute shortage of speech therapists which are important to develop the language skills of children with autism, Gao Liqun, a speech therapy expert with Beijing Language and Culture University, said. "There are no more than 500 such therapists in China, compared with more than 180,000 in the US."

Gao said the establishment of the fund will connect professional treatment organizations with families with autistic children.

China Children and Teenagers' Foundation, established in 1981, has been striving to improve welfare among young people across the country.

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