The Way to School

The Education Dilemma for Children with Autism  in China

                                                                        by IMMJ Jialin Zeng &Zeyu Chen

Lili is 9 years old and when he was over 3 years old, he was brought to the hospital because of ear problems. It was not expected to be diagnosed with autism in the end. He lives in his own world and doesn't care about outside world. This is a common feature of many children with autism, and at first, many parents thought it was the ear problem.So many children were taken to see otolaryngology and later diagnosed with autism.

"We went to kindergarten and took him for the interview. When the teacher learned about Lili's condition, they've all shown difficulties. We were probably received 50 or 60 rejections."said Lili's mother, Kang Juan.

"Before this, I have the faintest idea of autism, we have never heard of it." said Kang Juan.
Indeed, autism still needs to be popularized in China. However, this symptom is not uncommon.Statisticsshow that one out of every 100 people has autism in China.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)is a complex developmental disability; signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a person's ability to communicate, and interact with others.
Simon Baron-Cohen, the professor of developmental psychopathology at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, said, the development of the braincan happen before the birth.

Lili has always ignored people and rarely played or talked with other children.The only thing that interests him is electronic devices. "He could stand still and stare at barrier gate and automatic door for one or two hours.Later, Kang Juan learned that these hobbies are linked to autism.

After diagnosis they chose to seek medical treatment, visit various rehabilitation institutions, pray to the idols for blessing and hope through efforts him will be cured.After several years of active seeking medical help, the condition did not improve, but she and her family were exhausted because of this endless "rehabilitation treatment."

Afterwards, Li li came to the age for primary school.In China, there is policy that supports special children.All public schools must accept applications from special children that live nearby.
“We applied for a public school. However, the situation is very tricky."
At the opening ceremony, newly enrolled freshmen and their parents and teachers all held flag-raising ceremony.However, Lili's attention is always attracted by other things and constantly ran around on the playground.

This is another common feature of many children with autism.Some minor changes in life can be really disturbing and annoying it can cause stereotyped behaviors, such as covering ears with hands, screaming.

"At this moment I was aware that public schools does not work for him." Kang Juan said.

"To accept that my child will always like this, but still, he is my baby."
Kang Juan  and her son L

"Our country has been a late starter in autism study. Many so-called autism training institutions have forced children to repeat some lines, such as wearing T-shirt in summer and jackets in winter. These seemed to be very effective at first, but the children could not connect the sentences with the actual situation, so it has no use."Lv Shupeng said.Lv worked in a well-known autism educational institution in China for two years, in the past he was very satisfied with his work and thought through his own patience with children, it will enable them to gradually adapt to social life. Over time he discovered that, the children would forget what he had instilled. "we must allow them to experience and feel themselves, rote learning is useless to them."

"We must allow them to experience and feel themselves, rote learning is useless to them."
Lv Shupeng

Autism can be identified at 18 months, and if the family take intervention before the age of six, the symptoms can be significantly improved.

Children with autism have various levels of intelligence. Studies have shown that about 50% of children with autism have moderate or more intellectual deficits (IQ Less than 50).25% are mild intellectual impairment (50 to 69 IQ), 25% of intelligence is normal (IQ greater than 70) and children with normal intelligence are called high-functioning autism.

Chenchen is 7 years old and old enough for primary school, But he also has difficulty in studying.Compared with Lili, he is more "lively", but his behaviors only bring him more troubles.

Li Xue, the mother of Chenchen was frustrated, when it comes to schools. In order to find a suitable environment. She took Chenchen to study in a specialized school which has four teachers for six children in the suburbs of Beijing.

"I just want him to be physically and mentally healthy, that's all."
Li Xue with her son Chenchen  

In China, there are total 1345 organizationsthat receive exceptional children, and half of them are set up spontaneously by the parents with exceptional children. This specialized school that took Lili and Chenchen in was originally opened by the parents.Due to some reasons, a former education expert has taken over.

Haizi has been engaged in this field of parenting education in more than a decade. The ages of children and symptoms are various.

Although there are only six children in this school, there are various courses such as manual training, and cultural classes.Yet maintaining class order is still a problem. "After teacher wrote on the blackboard, the children would wipe it off, and They can hardly sit down and listen to teachers. So the teachers here are under more pressure than ordinary schools. The teacher needs more patience."Haizi said.

"We should call on the society to accept these children in a more tolerant manner."
Hai Zi

The United States has increased investment in autism education year by year. They have more mature system for the social integration for people with autism. In North America, a well-developed rehabilitation community has been established, where these adults with autism can also be treated without prejudice.In Tokyo, Japan, there is a private school called Musashino HigashiGakuen, which includes kindergartens, elementary schools, junior high schools, and vocational high schools. When the school was founded 50 years ago, it has been promoting integration education. At present, there are 1,100 normal children and 500 children with autism.There is also a well-established and integrated education model in Taiwan.
The integrated education is not only a form and strategy for special children to only solve educational problems. but it is an idea that promotes the development of normal children and special children together.In this class, Normal and special children both attend same classes, professionally trained teachers set up courses differently for children with autism and help children gradually master the rules in ordinary schools. "It helps children with autism integrate into society.

Guo Chen is both teacher and father of a child from this special school.He said"After going through different journeys with my child, we understand parents are the best teachers. After all, we know our children best. Only through companionship and observation you can truly see what they need."

“Only through companionship and observation you can truly see what they need.”
Guo Chen is comforting a kid

In 2016, in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, the first kindergarten that integrated with special children was forced to move. This was the fifth time they had moved for 15 years. The reason for the frequent moving is raising rent and residents nearby refuse kindergartens to move in, when they hear that kindergartens have "special children."

The same thing happened to this school as well, last month, the school received a notification from the landlord that the neighbors were complaining that the children were too naughty and noisy.They are required to leave within a month.This is less than a year since last time they moved. Lili is 9 years old and Chenchen and Qiqi are both 7 years old.They are a part of China's 2 million children with autism, and suitable education will once again become the predicament that their families have to face.

"I hope the society can be more tolerant and can accept our children more."said Li Xue.