Special needs pupils face growing concerns (2)

08:24, December 27, 2010      

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Family's 'blessing'

Experts who extol the potential benefits of personalized training for autistic children could easily use the case of Li Jin to prove their point.

Despite being diagnosed with the disorder at 2, after seven years of treatment by Japanese doctors she was able to receive a public primary and secondary education in Beijing before being accepted by a private college.

"I will never forget the excitement on my wife's face when she heard that our daughter would go to college and get a job after graduation," said her father, Li Zhongcheng, 49. "I felt relieved, too, because I knew then she would be able to live a normal life."

He added that his family's "curse" became a "blessing" once his daughter broke down her communication barriers and learned to harness her natural talent with numbers. Now 24, Li Jin is putting her mathematics skills to use as a researcher with a private engineering institute based in Zhongguancun, the capital's famous technology hub.

Li Jin's case is far from common, however. For the many autistic children who are unable to attend public schools, their job prospects remain slim.

Experts say sufferers are often extremely intelligent, with about 10 percent displaying "unusual abilities", such as a great capacity to memorize numbers, words or facts. Tian at Stars and Rain argues that at least 50 percent of all autistic children have the potential to meet the standards of public education and join the nation's workforce.

"Fundamentally, autistic people need to be included into the social security system and allowed to study at public schools," she said.

Twelve students who graduated Anhua Intelligence Training School last summer have found jobs at hotels, including one autism sufferer, said Fan Xiaojie, director of its student career center.

They "are more patient at work and will not try to escape responsibility", she said when asked what her graduates would offer bosses. "They're also more motivated. They won't get bored with repetitive processes and will stick with the work schedules."
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