New base aims to standardize and improve treatment for ASD sufferers

Updated 2018-04-27 12:10:05

First State-level rehabilitation base for ASD sufferers to open in Hainan

China will launch the country's first State-level rehabilitation base for children suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in South China's Hainan Province in May, bringing together the country's top specialist resources to establish an industry standard and cultivate professional talents.[Special coverage]

The base will open on May 26 in Haikou, Hainan Province, and will be dedicated to medical treatment, professional training, rehabilitation, research and developing assistive devices for children with ASD, according to the China Foundation of Disabled Persons on Monday.

China has yet to conduct a national-level survey into the situation regarding ASD in the country, but regional research has been carried out in certain provinces and cities.

Growing numbers

It is estimated that there are more than 3 million children aged up to 14 years old affected by ASD, and the number is on the rise, Jia Meixiang, a Chief Physician with the Peking University Sixth Hospital and also the chairman of the autism rehabilitation committee under the China Association of Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons (CARD), was quoted by charity website as saying in an April 20 report.

Apart from regular training sessions for the children, the base will also customize training schemes according to each individual's needs, she added.

The base will be 43 mu (28,667 square meters) in size, with functional buildings for rehabilitation, nurseries, education, as well as outdoor training areas. The five-floor rehabilitation building will be able to host 200 children affected by the autistic disorder, and accommodate as many as 30 families at the same time.

Currently, there are more than 1,000 autism rehabilitation facilities across the country, and 90 percent of them are non-governmental organizations, resulting in problems ranging from a "lack of professionally trained personnel, industrial standards, and shortage of treatment methods," according to data provided by the foundation.

The qualifications of these organizations also vary significantly.

Unscientific diagnoses and training methods could easily lead to treatment costs rising to tens of thousands of yuan, creating significant anxieties for ASD-affected families.

The State-level base in Hainan will set standards to resolve these problems, Zhang Yanhua, secretary-general of the foundation, noted.

High costs

"We usually use organizations registered with the China Disabled Persons Federation, and teachers with (Behavior Analyst Certification Board) BACB and applied behavior analysis (ABA) training backgrounds.

They charge 200 yuan for a 45-minute training session, and even more when the teacher has more than five years' working experience," Julie, a Beijing mother whose 5-year-old child suffers from ASD, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Treatment costs at least 8,000 yuan a month, despite subsidies from the federation, Julie said, adding that parents should try and depend on themselves rather than simply rely on these organizations.

However, this is more easily said than done, as "not all parents are able to quit their jobs and become full-time carers for their children," she said.

"To provide effective, professional and individual rehabilitation training and treatment for children suffering from the disease and help their families, the base will not only meet the needs of Hainan Province but will also specially serve children from 12 provinces and 14 poverty-struck regions that have been designated by the State. Such services benefit the public and are in the spirit of targeted poverty reduction," explained Liu Yuwen, the deputy secretary-general of the foundation.

"It is essential for parents to understand that after their children are diagnosed with ASD, it is not something that can be simply cured in the short term but is a lifelong disorder that requires lifelong care," Julie said.

"I hope the government can establish an ASD association, allowing experts to visit these children on a regular basis and document how they grow up. Special assistance facilities should also be installed in nurseries and elementary schools across the country with specially-trained staff to help these kids," Julie added.

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