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(China) Mother quits work, starts autism school; support unavailable

July 15, 2023, South China Morning Post: ‘No flowers, peaches or plums’: mother in China who quit job, sold home to set up special school for autistic son now helps hundreds

Chinese mother could not find a school for her autistic son so she quit her job and started one herself

Following a difficult start during which she had to sell property to survive, the school has thrived

A mother in China who resigned from her job and sold her property to establish a school for her autistic son has helped hundreds of other children with the same condition.

The story of Chen Yuanfang from Anqing in eastern China’s Anhui province was reported by Dami Video and has profoundly moved many on mainland social media.

Chen was devastated in 2002 when the Shanghai Children’s Hospital diagnosed her two-year-old son with autism….

However, while seeking medical help, Chen also discovered another harsh reality – traditional schools did not meet the unique educational needs of autistic children, and there were no specialised schools in her area.

“Children have the right to go to school. If no existing opportunities are provided, I will have to create them,” said Chen.

In 2004, she quit her job in the medical industry, and after initially co-founding a telecommunications company with friends to secure capital, she established a school for children with special needs in 2007, according to Anqing Daily.

It took time for the school to become established, and at one point, she had to sell property she owned for the school to survive….

The school has grown from just 60 square metres with three teachers and five students to now encompassing two campuses of more than 3,000 square metres with 73 staff and 200 students, the youngest of whom is two years old and the oldest 24.

In its 16 years, the school has taught 811 students and helped 82 autistic children successfully transition to regular schools…

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