This is a continued feature multi-part blog post written by our Executive Director, Alanna Hendren. Alanna will be blogging about her recent experience flying off to China as the leader of the People-to-People Psychiatric Services and Developmental Disabilities Delegation. Every Tuesday and Friday, we will be posting about her journey in China, the developmental services offered there, and the people there. To read part 3, follow this link.
In 1994, an Education Act for People with Disabilities was proclaimed by China’s government to mandate supports for children with disabilities, establish special schools, focus on vocational skill acquisition and for summer sports programs to be proved for children and parents. Inclusive and special education is provided in preschools compulsory schools (grades 1 to 9), vocational and adult schools. National Rehabilitation Center Networks provide occupational, physical and speech therapy.
In the past, disability was viewed very negatively in China, particularly mental disabilities. Now, when families receive a diagnosis, they also get compulsory education on how to incorporate the disability into every day life, receive assistance and participate in the community. In the past, intellectual disabilities were defined by IQ only, but now they also include adaptive behaviors and skills because these ratings are much more useful. Aggressive people are placed under the care of the Public Security Administration.
So far, China’s professionals have found that the most useful tools for the treatment of intellectual disabilities are those that permit early detection and enable behavioral interventions. Chinese medicine has not been effective, although many western medicines are used in psychiatry. Unfortunately, these are very expensive for the average family.
The strategy adopted by the People’s Republic to support folks with developmental disabilities is:
- To encourage children with disabilities to attend public schools with the goal of their not being limited by different social expectations or environmental constraints
- To mobilize local resources and to enable people with disabilities and their communities to create their own solutions and programs for rehabilitation
China’s Ministry of Health and the Federation also issued a National Action Plan for Improvement of Quality of Population and Reduction of Birth Defects and Disability in 2002, a strategy that will reduce the number of children who have congenital abnormalities by 800,000 to 1 million per year by offering reproductive health services.