03 June 2011

How to Raise an Autistic Child

The DSM IV (the main diagnostic tool for psychological disorders) lists several symptoms of autism that I see in many of the high-achieving students I work with in HK. Among these are: marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body posture, and gestures to regulate social interaction, failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level, a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interest, or achievements with other people, a lack of social or emotional reciprocity (not actively participating in simple social play or games, preferring solitary activities), and apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals.

These teenagers I work with are not actually autistic, but their social skills are so impaired that when I walk in the room and say "hello" they just sit there and stare straight ahead, not responding to me verbally or even looking at me. When I leave the room, it gets even weirder. They do not speak to each other like normal children would, and continue to stare straight ahead at the empty whiteboard or take out their phones and play video games. They all hope (or their parents hope for them) to attend elite schools in the US. When they get there, they are destined for years of being the weird Chinese kid who doesn't speak to anyone. Most of them will make tons of money, and live totally unfulfilling lives, and then repeat the pattern with their own children.

So how can you turn your normal happy child into a borderline autistic child who will raise your social status by attending elite schools and making tons of money? Ask Amy Chua, she wrote a how to manual on the subject.