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  • Chris McMillan

A city's efforts to help people with autism integrate into society


3rd April 2023

A city's efforts to help people with autism integrate into society

When Duoduo (pseudonym) was diagnosed with moderate-to-severe autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in 2015, his father burst into tears after staggering out of the consulting room.

Shortly afterward, Duoduo, then two years old, was accepted into a special education school in the Beichen District of north China's Tianjin Municipality for rehabilitation training under the recommendation of the local Federation of Disabled Persons.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by varying degrees of difficulty with social interaction and communication. In Duoduo's case, he barely had any reaction when other people talked to him, let alone talk back.

The early days at the school were especially tough -- it took Duoduo a month to learn how to say the word "apple," and when it came to the simple request of "bringing the apple over," he couldn't succeed even if teachers tried to break the action down into detailed steps.

When everyone was about to give up, a glimmer of hope emerged when the boy was found reactive to music. The teachers soon adjusted their training method for Duoduo, and things started to change. To the beat of the music, Duoduo said his name out loud for the first time.

More than two years later, Duoduo enrolled in a local kindergarten for regular kids based on an integrated education scheme that Beichen District has tailored for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

At age seven, Duoduo successfully got into a regular elementary school.


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