China struggles to understand autism

Mainland China – China is uncertain exactly how many of its population is on the autism spectrum, something that may be hindering how the country handles the learning difference. The largest aspect being hurt by this misunderstanding of autism is ABA.

ABA stands for applied behavior analysis, a program that can increase a child with autism’s learning ability by leaps and bounds. It works by reinforcing desired responses to learning and social situations while ignoring undesired responses. The Wall-Street Journal reported information from the Behavior Analysis Certification Board which stated that Rhode Island there are more then 101 ABA centers. California has over 3,100. In all of Mainland China, there are only 4.

Karnina Cheung, one of the four certified behavior analysts in china, told the WSJ that anyone wishing to learn ABA properly, even in one of the four certified clinics, they have to learn from a book.

To combat this figure and to better employ ABA the Stars and Rain clinic teaches ABA to parents so they can use it at home for better results. And China is taking notice of the struggle.

Not only has the government finally recognized autism as a learning differences needing treatment, they have also financially helped affected families, and is in the process of carrying out two large scale studies.

The first study is spans eight cities with about 120,000 children on the spectrum in study. Yi Wang, director of the department of neurology at the Children’s Hospital of Fudan University and one of the study runners, says it should be completed this year.

The second study spans eleven cities with about 200,000 children on the spectrum in study. Expert autism researcher involved in the study Liping Wei says they partnered with Cambridge University, the China Disabled Persons’ Federation, Peking University and the National Institute of Biological Sciences.

Dr. Wei and her team also created one of the first Chinese-language apps to help nearly nonverbal children on the spectrum communicate.

Contributed by Audrey L. Hollingshead.

Source: Shirley S Wang for The Wall Street Journal: China’s Uncounted Children With Autism