Beijing support center helps autism sufferers find work

Bejing- Young adults with autism are being helped back to work through the efforts of a charity set up last year.

The Kangnazhou Autism Family Support Center, based in the city’s Changping district, has already offered “simulated employment” training to 700 students since opening in July 2012.

Students at the center, which was co-founded by parents of children with autism, are also given a monthly salary of 200 yuan ($33) to help them develop their skills.

Wen Hong, co-founder of the center, which her daughter Ning Ning also attends, said it was difficult for those with autism to gain paid work because of their behavioural issues. Wen said,

“Autistic people have a communication barrier, low comprehension of the environment and some difficulties in interpersonal relationships. It’s difficult for them to integrate into society.”

The centre also offers support and advice to parents, running counselling sessions and seminars on how to better cope with autistic children.

Zou Wen, mother of 16 year-old with autism, Kang Kang, and another co-founder of the center, praised its achievements in developing her son’s skills.

“He can make great cakes thanks to the training at Kangnazhou, and he is also skilled in using Microsoft Office”,

Wen commented whilst talking to English Eastday.  Kangnazhou are hoping to pilot a “back-front” employment scheme with a local bakery, which would see non-autistic staff serving customers to the front, while autistic staff work in the back.

An International Labour Organisation officer confirmed they were working closely with the Disabled Person’s Federation to train more counsellors to help autistic people into long-term work, and liaise more closely with employers.

A study by the China Philanthropy Research Institute in 2012 found the country has 1.64 million people with autism.