2nd April 2019
Under the same Starry Sky: Autism in China
The late Chinese contemporary poet Ha Zi wrote: “You’re the pretty hostess in your night and I have to meet clumsy customers in my daytime.”
To appreciate the loneliness at night while being afraid of the social life in daytime, the line may well describe people who tend to live in solitude or prefer a life of reclusion. This lifestyle is in many ways similar to those living with autism, who in China are called “The Children from the Star”.
Autistic people might be shy, quiet, sensitive and fragile, but they are also capable of deep concentration, imagination, resilience and diligence. They are intuitive when it comes to the arts and can even acquire and master knowledge in the same way ordinary people do. As we celebrate the 12th World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, 2019, we are reminded that autistic individuals now find themselves less marginalized despite their different ways of communicating and different perceptions of the world.
As part of a campaign focusing on how to understand, live and befriend autistic people, the Beijing BISS International School, one of the first international schools in the capital, and its partner ETU Education, a privately-run educational institute, staged a grand ceremony for 17 autistic people to celebrate their coming of age last Sunday. Wearing long dresses or suits, they were escorted by their parents to the center of the stage where the songs of young voices and lyrics of youthful dreams resonated.