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Art therapy program helps autistic children

04-03-2013 09:20 BJT

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By CCTV reporter Qi Wei

Tuesday marks the 6th World Autism Awareness Day. In China, one out of every 166 children is diagnosed with the disease, which impairs their ability to communicate. However, many autistic kids show a natural talent for painting and music, so many organizations are helping the children through art therapy. Recently, a painting exhibition featuring artworks created by autistic children has been held in Beijing.

In 1942, a French writer wrote about the quest of a little prince. The innocent boy lives on a small planet far away from Earth and embarks on a long journey to get here, a journey to find love.

Bai Cheng is a little prince in the real world. At four years old, he was diagnosed with autism. Kids with autism are often called “children of the stars”, as they seem to be living on their own planets, far far away.

Tuesday marks the 6th World Autism Awareness Day. In China, one out of every 166 children
is diagnosed with the disease, which impairs their ability to communicate.

Fortunately, there are many people devoted to help children like Bai Cheng. Zhang Junru, the founder of Golden Wings, is one of them. She says her job is to be the tour guide for these children as they struggle to fit in.

Zhang Junru said, "It was ten years ago that I came into contact with children with autism. I discovered that when the children are painting, they enjoyed their time very much, they concentrated and their emotions became calm and peaceful."

She is called Teacher Zhang by her students, about 70 disabled children. She founded the Golden Wings Rehabilitation Center three years ago.

This is the ninth stop of the Golden Wings Flow Museum, a touring exhibition and fair of pictures painted by the students. As audiences marvel at Bai Cheng’s starry night, the bashful boy can’t help but smile.

Zhang Junru said, "Bai Cheng has been with us for three years and he has shown a lot of progress. Now he can take the subway to school all by himself. Classes here give him a great sense of accomplishment."

Tuesday marks the 6th World Autism Awareness Day. In China, one out of every 166 children
is diagnosed with the disease, which impairs their ability to communicate.

Bai Cheng said, "I have taken classes on painting, calligraphy, dancing and physical exercise. I like exercise the most."

In China, a baby with autism is born every 20 minutes, and there are at least 1.5 million children suffering from the disease here. However, these children of the stars never seem to be suffering. Their world is quiet and peaceful, and art helps to add color to it.

Kang Kang is 15 years old. He just returned from Japan, where he took part in a painting exhibition by autistic Chinese and Japanese children. Diagnosed with autism when he was about three years old, he now draws pictures, swims and even bakes bread.

Zou Wen, Kang Kang’s mother, said, "I was totally desperate and could not accept that he was autistic. But then I told myself that I was a mother and I had no way back. If a mother can not accept her child, how can the world accept him? I had to help him. And ten years on, he has made a great difference."

Tuesday marks the 6th World Autism Awareness Day. In China,
one out of every 166 children is diagnosed with the disease,
which impairs their ability to communicate.

They say art has no boundaries. Maybe that’s why it’s such an effective treatment for autism, as it builds a bridge to the world as we know it.

Kang Kang said, "I like painting sunflowers, because I like painting flowers very much, and buses, kaolas, sea horses, platypuses and little animals."

Kang Kang’s hobby not only fills his time with enjoyment, but also earns him some money. That’s because Golden Wings cooperates with the government and enterprises to sell calendars, post cards and even i-pad covers created by autistic children.

Zhang Junru said, "We only charge these children 1 thousand yuan every year. It’s very very low. In order to keep the center running, we sell products with the children’s creations in them. It is also a good way for many enterprises who buy our products to fulfill their social responsibility. 20% of the revenue is returned directly to the children and they feel very proud of themselves."

As Zhang Junru says, charity can involve more than just begging for sympathy -- it can also be a fair trade of art and love.

Many celebrities are also devoted to the cause, a mode Zhang calls "star plus star." Eilin Chang is the first Chinese Miss World. She has participated in the Golden Wings Flow Museum for the past three years, using her fame to make a difference.

Tuesday marks the 6th World Autism Awareness Day. In China, one out
of every 166 children is diagnosed with the disease, which impairs
their ability to communicate.

Things seem to looking up for these kids. But as Kang Kang grows up, his mother is still haunted by concerns for her son’s future.

Zou Wen said, "Kang Kang is 15 years old. After he graduates from middle school, where will he go? There isn’t an appropriate place for them right now in our country. When he becomes an adult, where will he get a job and earn a living? I hope our government and all of society will provide more help and support for children with autism, so that when we parents are gone, the kids can live with dignity."

Qi Wei said, "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. And it’s time for all of us to watch out for these children of stars, their life, their hopes and their dreams. They are the real life “little princes and princesses” of millions of families. Since they have traveled so far from their stars, we better do our best to make sure that they have a nice home full of love on this planet. "

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: CCTV.com

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