In China, the prevalence of autism has been surging over the past few decades, says Jia Meixiang, an autism specialist with more than 20 years’ experience in a report taken by China Daily. Currently under-diagnosed, the first diagnosis was not reported in China until 1982, whereas, in the Western world, the first diagnosis was in the 1940s. Even though over 14 million people in China have the condition, there is still very little knowledge on the topic.
With no real database, sufferers are often left to struggle on their own, with very little or no support. However, with the growing numbers of people trying to increase knowledge on the prevalence of Autism, there have been major developments in the field; The Ministry of Health invested 32 million RMB to promote universal protocols for screening and treatment in a 3 year project. After taking part in World Autism Awareness Day on April 2nd, there is a growing openness on the topic of autism in China, but, for far too many, change is slow.
A project, named Blue Ocean Club, consists of a website and WeChat account that researchers hope will be China’s first “systematic, regulated and professional” database of the disorder, says Dr Wang Yi, vice-president of Children’s Hospital of Fudan University. It will be the mainland’s first platform, connecting medical professionals with families of sufferers. There will be chances for families to share their stories, connect with other sufferers, get advice, and hear talks from doctors relating to the latest information and services available. This will, hopefully, provide some much-needed relief for those in China who need information to care for their vulnerable loved ones.