Author: Hu Xin, Deputy Director of the Social Innovation Research Centre, Beijing Leping Welfare Foundation
Source: “China-UK Social Enterprise and Social Investment Case Studies” publication
Edited by: British Council Society Team
Of all the children that surround us in our daily life, one in every 110 is affected by autism. Autism is a congenital neurodevelopmental disease that is characterised by impaired social functions, communication disorders and restricted and rigid behaviours and interests. We call children affected by autism “children of the stars”. They are unmindful of the outside world, they are not attached to interpersonal relationships, they overreact or underreact and they have their own unique fixed rituals in daily life.
As the first private non-profit institution specialising in providing education services for autistic children and their families, Beijing Stars and Rain Education Institute for Autism (“Stars and Rain”) was started by the mother of an autistic child. In 1993, Tian Huiping left her job and established Beijing's first school for autistic children.
Since Stars and Rain’s establishment over 20 years ago, the external environment has continued to change. The general public who once knew nothing about autism now have some understanding about it, policies have become increasingly more supportive and the concept of inclusive education has been popularised. In the beginning, the mission of Stars and Rain was to provide services and support to autistic families and autistic children. It then began to provide technical support for similar institutions, provide professional support for governmental departments and local rehabilitation centres and ultimately improve the public’s awareness.
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