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1st Shanghai International Forum on Autism Research open

    Disability advocates and medical experts are calling for schools built specifically for autistic children at a forum held in Jingan District on Thursday.

    Mainstream schools are unable to make personalized classes and meet the demands of autistic children, which has long been a headache for many families with autistic 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 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 still lack such schools," said Cao Xiaoxia, who was recently granted the Magnolia Silver Award in recognition of her contribution to the citys development.

    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 gain confidence and show themselves to the world through music. This year, she opened a coffee shop for them, where autistic children play baristas.

    "After so many years, we proved that autistic children are educable. We have to improve our social environment to offer educational support to them," she said.

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

    "When I first meet autistic children, their parents tell me not to touch them as they cant control their motions. But today they hug me often, which is a big gift to me," said Caos father Cao Peng, a renowned conductor.