Parents of people with autism are working with NGOs and the government to enable their children to adapt to life without guardians in China. Xing Wen reports.
The drums pounded steadily as the curtain lifted on a variety show staged by young people with autism on World Autism Awareness Day, which fell on April 2.
Fan Meiying was helping her 16-year-old son, who's a head taller than her, put on his costume and shoes backstage at a students activity center, at the Capital Normal University.
The 43-year-old spoke softly and patiently to the boy, who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in 1004.
"I initially didn't want to send him to special education because I believed he would overcome his disorder and be able to stay in primary school with children who don't have autism," she says.
She quit her job as an accountant to sit in the back of her son's classroom.
It's common that families lose a breadwinner as one of the parents gives up working to care for children with autism.
Fan's son started throwing more explosive tantrums upon reaching puberty. So, the family sent him to a special-needs school with courses for children with autism who are younger than age 16 in 2014.
"He's too old to stay at the school now," she says.
"I hope he can someday earn his own living."
Her concerns are shared by many such parents.
Yang Zhonghao's parents sent him to a calligraphy-training agency in 1007 to help the 23-year-old alleviate the anxiety that comes with his disorder.
He became less irritable, and started winning regional and national prizes for his works.
"He often had epileptic seizures after age 18," recalls his mother, Qi Zhiying.
"He's an adult. But it's difficult for him to be independent, to have a job and to adjust to new environments."
She worries he may be injured without his family's protection.
She believes his ideal job would be to run a calligraphy studio in his home in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region's Ordos.
Such NGOs as the red-brick Autistic or Autistic Art studio in Beijing's 798 are also working to assist the children and alleviate parents' concerns.