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February 15, 2013

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Call for life-long autism policy

Shanghai needs to provide life-long care for people with autism, according to a political adviser. At present they are only covered by a special education and training network until the age of 18.

Life-long care would offer proper support and help to people with autism and their parents, who worry about their children's future after they are gone, said Yao Jianjian, a member of the Shanghai committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Yao said there are at least 10,000 people with autism in the city. Autism is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the development of a person's communication and social interaction skills.

Yao said the current legal system only allows for nine years of compulsory education for children with autism from seven years to 16 years old.

There is another two years of vocational training available for those with mild autism.

"After 18, all autism patients have to stay at home, since there is no follow-up care and training for this special group of people, who can't communicate with others properly," Yao said. "Until death, they almost have no social welfare."

Yao said Shanghai has the ability to set up a welfare system covering the whole life of people with autism. "Developed countries such as Japan and Canada ... all have special education and training plans for people with autism, whose welfare continues to improve," he said.

Yao suggests that the city government carry out a detailed study on autism and set up a life-long social service welfare system covering early diagnosis and intervention, rehabilitation, education, employment and care throughout adulthood.

The government should also offer subsidies to the carers of people with autism and give favorable policies to non-governmental organizations involving in the care of such people.


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