China's autistic children need more state support

18:05, February 18, 2011      

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Qiqi is sitting in the corner of the room, quietly playing with toys. It seems that the four-year-old boy is no different than other children his age.

However, when Qiqi speaks, his unclear speech and lack of eye contact indicate that there might be something wrong with him.

Qiqi is one of the 37 children who are receiving rehabilitation training at the nursery for autistic children of the Chunya Disabled Benefit Association in Hefei City, east China's Anhui Province.

Autism is a neural disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and communication and repetitive behavior.

For decades, autism went largely undiagnosed in China and the Chinese government only recognized it as a disability in 2006.

It is estimated that there are about 3 to 5 million people living with autism in China, He Zongwen, vice chairman of Anhui Disabled Federation said, adding that the rates of diagnosis of autism is on the rise worldwide.

"Autism can cause poverty to families, which may lead to social instability," He said.

Usually, one of the parents with an autistic child has to quit his or her job to look after the child, because people with autism cannot take care of themselves. At the same time, the family has to pay the high cost for rehabilitation training.

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