The Situation of Adolescents and Adults with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities in Mainland China

Friday, May 16, 2014
Atrium Ballroom (Marriott Marquis Atlanta)
C. Wang1 and M. M. Hussey2, (1)School of Medicine, Nankai University, Tianjin, China, (2)Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China
Background: The first case of autism in China was identified in 1982. Since then, much progress has been made and the first generations of children to be diagnosed are now adults.  This population of autistic adults continues to grow as increasing awareness has led to higher rates of diagnosis and presents a new set of challenges for Chinese society on a national level.  

Objectives:   The objective of the study is to describe the situation of adolescents and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities in China.

Methods:    The method used to conduct this research was a sample survey of parents and caregivers of adolescents and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities in Mainland China and follow-up interviews. Questions focused on three major aspects of their lives: access to education/rehabilitation therapy, access to vocational programs/employment opportunities, and impact on the family.

Results:   The majority of the adolescents and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities had been denied access to education as children, and this had a major effect on their options in the future. There is also severe lack of employment opportunities, with over 80% of the adults are unemployed and nearly half of the parents’ expressing doubts that their child could develop work-related skills. The two commonly expressed concerns were fear that the parents would get sick and not have anyone to care for the child with autism, as well as lack of support from society. 

Conclusions:  Strategies to improve the situation must begin by addressing the structural problems within the Chinese autism and other developmental disabilities services and special education programs.