Driving away the blues of autistic patients
Tiantian (pseudonym) starts his daily volunteer work at a blue house inside Minhang Culture Park punctually at 7:45am.
He opens the windows for ventilation, waters flowers, checks on work attendance and then works as a teaching assistant.
"This is my job and I want to do it well," said the boy, who is both a sophomore and a high-function autistic patient. A high-function autistic patient has a normal intelligent quotient but an autism spectrum disorder.
The blue house where he works is Shanghai's first assistant center exclusively for autistic patients, which was called Haoshang Blue House and opened in early September.
At 9am, an etiquette course takes place at the blue house, with more than 10 children participating. Tiantian, as an assistant, gets busy distributing small trophies to the children and encouraging them to practice communication and polite expressions.
Haoshang offers free rehabilitation courses for autistic patients with Minhang-registered residency. The courses include basic education, life skills, stitchwork, gardening, pottery making and baking. It has 13 trainees, with the oldest aged 18 years.
"We encourage high-function autistic patients to fit into society. So we encourage them to work as our volunteers. They can practice their communication skills here while building faith toward life," said Liu Le, chief of the Shanghai Aihao Child Rehabilitation Training Center.
The district's civil affairs bureau has set up an aiding system for autistic patients that includes community support, institutional coaching and whole-lifespan assistance.
Various activities will be held to raise awareness about autism among the general public, with early screening and consulting services offered.
Minhang now has a district-level assistance center, the Haoshang Blue House and five subdistrict-level supporting centers, with more centers on its construction agenda.