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July 21, 2010

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Home » Metro » Education

An autism center faces relocation

A CENTER that provides training to autistic children has been asked to move because a wealthy neighbor complained that the kids make too much noise, parents said yesterday.

Tan Jun, a mother of a three-year-old autistic boy, said she is worried that Clover will be forced to move just because some famous TV actor made a noise complaint.

She said her son has learned how to say "mom" and has made progress in other areas since starting training at Clover, which has 15 students.

Most kindergartens and schools in the city do not accept children with autism.

But Clover is different. It is a private business providing training to kids with autism or development retardation. Parents consider Clover the only hope for their children, who would otherwise have to stay at home.

Clover moved to a villa on Luoyang Road in Minhang District in May so that the children would have more space.

The neighborhood features many villas that are being used by businesses.

The neighborhood committee asked Clover to leave after the TV actor said the kids have been too noisy.

When Shanghai Daily visited the neighborhood yesterday, the children's voices could only be heard about 10 meters from the villa.

The children were in the middle of behavior training, the noisiest period of the day.

Clover's teachers now keep the kids indoors to avoid further provoking the neighbor.

Ren Ruijie, a 28-year-old Hebei Province native, who set up Clover three years ago, said it is registered at the Shanghai Administration of Industry and Commerce.

But the director of the neighborhood committee angrily told Shanghai Daily that the center was "illegal."

Meanwhile, parents have nothing but praise for the school and its staff.

Lu Xinda, a father of a four-year-old autistic boy, said his son had made progress since going to Clover. "He calls me 'dad'," said Lu, whose son couldn't talk months ago.

Clover charges 50 yuan (US$7.38) for one hour of one-on-one training.

Clover's teachers earn an average of just more than 2,000 yuan a month. Due to a lack of funds, parents have donated a refrigerator and electric fans while teachers make their own teaching tools.

The only publicly funded option for autistic children in the city is the Shanghai Children's Welfare Institute. But Lu said it only accepts 12 autistic children at a time, making it difficult to join.

Autistic children need special attention and training at a young age.

Experts said the best period is from two to six years.

Some autistic children have special abilities in one peculiar area, according to Lu Zengde, a retired autism teacher.


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