"Love takes no thought for itself". This is the philosophy of an autism rehabilitation home in Jilin.
Before the visit, I did not know anything about autism, except that children with autism do not want to talk to other people.
"Autism is innate, and babies have autism when they are in their mother's belly," said Brother Liu, the head of Morningstar Autism Rehabilitation Home. He added that there is currently no conclusive medical evidence that neurodevelopmental disorders, genetic mutations, or environmental factors are the causes of autism.
Located in Yushu City, Jilin Province, Morningstar Autism Rehabilitation Home has classrooms, activity rooms, fitness rooms, recreation rooms, dance rooms, lounges, and a situational teaching supermarket. The supermarket is divided into various areas, which are filled with commonly used items in life, such as toys, fruits, vegetables, tableware, foods, seasonings, grain and oil, beverages, and so on. It is easy for normal children to know these, but very difficult for autistic children. The teachers need to introduce them repeatedly and simulate the purchase and payment.
"These children are good-looking, aren't they?" Brother Liu greets the children and communicates their situation with the teachers.
Yixuan, Endian, and Yinuo, the children, showed us their gains here under the instruction of the teachers. One-on-one teaching is implemented here. The teacher would pay attention to all kinds of situations with the assigned child.
"Yixuan was just 33 months old when he arrived here. He knew nothing, could not speak, had many behavioral problems, and was particularly stubborn." Director Duan of the rehabilitation center introduced himself to us. Now Yixuan can not only talk, but also know many creatures.
A male believer going by the name Liu founded "Morningstar Autism Rehabilitation Home" in March 2021. His eldest son was autistic and was only discovered when he was three. Due to their ignorance of the illness, they missed the best period of rehabilitation treatment. After more than a year of rehabilitation, his son still could not speak. Later, he met Wang Liping, a Doctor of Education at Northeast Normal University and a researcher at Jilin University. She had many years of experience in ABA autism rehabilitation and gave his child rehabilitation training for free. It was not long before his son could speak. With this achievement, Brother Liu came up with the idea of establishing a rehabilitation center and hired Mr. Wang as the instructor to train the teachers.
Since its establishment, more than 40 children have received rehabilitation treatment here under professional teacher guidance and training. Four of them have been transferred to normal schools, and several more children can go to school in September.
Brother Liu said, "The best rehabilitation stage for autistic patients is around two years old." If the patient is not seriously ill, he can go to school with normal children and graduate from junior high and high school through professional rehabilitation training.
Brother Liu said that their goal is to help children under eight years old recover so they can attend normal school and assist older children in recovering in order to find jobs. It was his original intention to escort this group all the way from birth to retirement.
He also showed us around a handwork classroom, where there were all kinds of hand-woven goods. This is a project he is about to start to try to find a way for older children to make a living.
Brother Liu said that the teachers here are paid the lowest salary but help every child with love, patience, and professionalism.
A normal child needs to spend RMB 8,000–10,000 per month to recover, but they only charge less than RMB 5,000 here. "For a county-level urban family, RMB 5,000 is a lot." Some families with difficulties would be visited and granted relief. He also expects more people to care about this group.
According to the WHO report for 2022, the global average prevalence rate of autism is 0.62%, which is equivalent to one autistic child in every 160 children. The latest US data for 2023 reported that the prevalence rate of autism was once again refreshed to 1:36.
- Translated by Oliver Zuo