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Lending a hand to autism sufferers

Updated: 2016-05-06 08:35:13

( China Daily )

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Staff members and youngsters play a game in Mingzhi Zhi Jia, a private rehabilitation center for autistic people in Jilin city. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A private facility is doing its bit to help as autism afflicts a growing number of children in China. Wang Zhen in Beijing and Liu Mingtai in Jilin report.

Sha Lin walks through an office corridor firmly holding the side rails. The 19-year-old has just finished cleaning a part of the building in Jilin city.

The young adult suffers from autism, which is a complex brain development disorder that leads to difficulties in social interactions, among other issues.

He arrived at Mingzhi Zhi Jia (home for the wise), a private rehabilitation center for autistic people, in Northeast China's Jilin province, seven years ago.

Sha has since been leading a largely self-reliant and calmer life.

But things weren't the same earlier. The frustrations related to his disorder often got the better of him - he used to smash things.

Wang Liying, founder of Mingzhi Zhi Jia, says her center aims to help young people with autism lead as normal a life as possible by enhancing their social skills and lowering emotional barriers.

The center provides help to autistic children, teenagers and young adults through counseling, therapies, education and professional training.

Wang's concern for autistic people emerged after she attended a charity program in 2006 while working for Shell China in Beijing.

"I met with a group of autistic children at the event. All of a sudden, a kid bit my arm," Wang recalls.

Then, she got a chance to deepen her understanding of patients and found that most rehabilitation facilities in China targeted preschool children. Wang's academic background in industry management helped her create Mingzhi Zhi Jia in 2009, when she quit her well-paid communications job at Shell and went back to her hometown, Jilin.

The center developed quickly, offering treatment and training for about 80 patients.

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