What is autism


Special thanks to Jazzie

Incidence of autism increased rapidly in recent years, from 1:10,000 in 1980s to 1:166 in 2000.  Overwhelming statistics and reports point towards an “autism epidemic” in the world.

These figures are likely to be understated because a lack clear diagnosis . As causes of autism are still unknown and the growing number of autistic children has presented unprecedented stress and burden on families, teachers, social workers, medical profession and the whole community, many governments have recognized that the sheer number of autistic population will jeopardize the entire social service system in the very near future.  Therefore huge initiatives have been approved to find the causes, treatments and prevention of autism.

Despite increased number of children affected by autism, school or learning facilities dedicated to them is appallingly lacking worldwide. Children with autism in special schools are always put together with other disabilities due to either little understanding of their learning needs or resource constraints. What a pity that many autistic children with normal or even high IQ are mistakenly treated as mentally retarded and are deprived of learning opportunities.     

Many autistic children are deficient in communication and language development. In most cases, they learn differently. For example, some are good visual learners but poor in auditory processing.  At present, there are only a few small scale primarily self financing program tailored for autistic children in Hong Kong and integration teaching in mainstream schools is a good start but far from effective. Despite good intention to pursue integration, schools are usually handicapped by lack of resources and expertise.

There is gradual recognition that many autistic children with appropriate learning support can excel in different areas and become useful members to the community.  More and more autistic persons come out and tell their stories of struggle through their books. Unfortunately they are the lucky few in this recovery journey such as Dr Temple Gardin (US), Dr Stephen Shore (US), Donna Williams (US), Eric Chen (Singapore)…….