Child disability in Hong Kong

By Samrin Monami
Published on April 25th, 2021

Autism: complex, lifelong developmental disability that typically appears during early childhood and can impact a person’s social skills, communication, relationships, and self-regulation.

In the world, 1 in 50 children suffer from disability and in Hong Kong ⅓ of the children need special educational needs. Disabilities can include autism spectrum disorder, developmental disabilities, conduct disorder and so on. Autism is one of the biggest disorders faced by Hongkong children and is considered one of the world’s biggest cities with children with disabilities (372 children suffering per 10,000).

When examined, it showed some of the main causes in Hong Kong include long-term exposure to mercury, lead, arsenic in diets and in the environment. The main issue is it’s undiagnosable nature before the child is born, leading to the hindrance of taking preventive measures like getting tested. Main limitation is it can only be diagnosed once the child exceeds 2 years of age). Research shows poor people are more at risk of acquiring disability compared to other resourced-filled children for the lack of access to good nutrition, health care, sanitation, safe living & working conditions.

There is no cure for autism.

Although autism is not a physical disability, it has a severe impact on a person’s life in the future to perform physical work. Research done by the social security administration in Hongkong, shows that autism limits the types of activities and interests of autistic people and can make it difficult for people with autism or autistic spectrum disorders to perform work if it is not within their narrow interests, even if that work is purely physical in nature. It further limits their exposure to the world’s new job opportunities as they cannot expose themselves beyond their boundaries and hard for them to know what they are interested in really. According to career change statistics, it is considered that an average person changes their career 5-7 times during their working life and with an ever increasing number of career choices, 30% of the workforce will now change careers or jobs every 12 months.

First of all, autism affects the ability of an individual to interact socially with others. People with classic autism or more severe forms of autistic spectrum disorders cannot generally handle jobs which require any significant degree of interaction with others. Autism makes it difficult to communicate effectively or to receive communication effectively. While there are therapeutic methods which can help people to communicate with autistic people effectively, there are few employers who are willing and able to go to the lengths of training it would require. Jobs which require a person to keep pace or to stick with a given task for any extended period of time are generally beyond the abilities of someone with classic autism or severe autistic spectrum disorders.

In Hong Kong, when studying Hugo’s (a disabled child) behavior, it showed that his goodbye response was slapping a girl on the face, throwing water bottles around, stopping an escalator from running and chucking his schoolbag over the rail track in a MTR station and so on.

However, Hugo is one of the lucky disabled children as his parents can afford to send him to a special school for autistic children that charges HK$17,500 per month.

In the coming world, many schools are stepping forward to help the disabled children get exposure to the normal life facilities. ESF school in Hongkong has provided 147 places for students with special educational needs able to learn in ordinary classrooms. Many autistic children in Hong Kong are excluded from this specialist service for whom affordable specialist education is still a long way off.

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