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Forum calls for new schools for autistic children
09.14.2018

    Disability advocates and medical experts called for schools built specifically for autistic children at a forum held in Jing’an District yesterday.

    Mainstream schools are unable to provide personalized classes and meet the demands of autistic children, a headache for many families with these children, many of whom are forced to home school.

    At the First Shanghai International Forum on Autism Research, experts said autistic children are educable but that they need their own schools and to receive tailor-made classes, befriend similar peers and learn how to get involved in society.

    “The State Council pointed out in 2015 that schools for autistic children are encouraged, but so far, we don’t have any,” said Cao Xiaoxia, who was recently granted the Magnolia Silver Award in recognition of her contribution to the city.

    Cao, also known as Konatsu Ishiwata as she married a Japanese man, has been dedicated to the education of autistic children for more than a decade.

    As the head of Shanghai City Symphony Orchestra, she gave autistic children a platform to show themselves to the world through music. This year, she opened a coffee shop for them, where the children act as baristas.

    “After so many years, we have proved that they are educable. We have to improve our environment to offer educational support to them,” she said.

    At the forum, some children played music and showed off their coffee brewing skills. They said they were happy to work in the coffee shop and that they hoped Cao would open a school for autistic children as soon as possible.

    “When I first meet autistic children, their parents told me not to touch them as they can’t control their emotions. But today they hug me often, which is a big gift to me,” said Cao’s father Cao Peng, a renowned conductor.