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.


  1. I am quite surprised that no one commented on this entry still for it is a topic of much interest to many I suppose. Oh wait, I bet a lot of the readers enjoy reading but often not post comments because the urge to express not great enough to a point they would put a comment here? Oh well, perhaps or maybe I am just overly sensitive am I? Or maybe it is all because how many were actually brought up this way just like the situation above.

    Many HK parents often believe that once they attained the status and perhaps the money, life will be different, for the better of course. However, what I think they lacked in their "ideal" thinking is the progress of attaining such status and sxit of money they assume would come as a result.

    In my opinion, it was the recent / modern Chinese history that created such behavior for both parents and children. For 200 - 300 years, China / Middle Kingdom has undergone so many changes in dynasties as well as turmoils that families were living at risk all the time. They look at what they have time, they find the fastest ways to get rich or at least to be safe. They are very much result oriented or pragmatic to be exact. Process is of no importance, results first and then things can be sorted out. Depending on the situation, such theory may work but when it comes to education and so-called status, really sad and unfortunate I have to agree.

    I do hope things can change for the better in the near future but this is a wishful thinking of course.

  2. I was one of those "autistic child" from Hong Kong, I could say this post is painfully true.


  3. i am also one of the "autistic" children, to quote the author's words. but i think this is just judgemental labelling. after all, life is of my own. So long as i feel comfortable with my personality/have my own interests/know what is truly satisfying for me, why bother? introverts often have a sharp eye on the workings of the world. it is just a matter of time (and occasions as well) for them to open up and communicate. just because we don't speak doesn't mean we are idiots or in any ways less superior. i admit that when i was young, i would care such criticism much and sometimes grow unhappy. Now, i am mature enough to shrug it off.

  4. Celine, I didn't realize I was being a cultural imperialist when I suggested that people are happier if they have friends. Apparently "friends" are just one of those Western concepts that we Westerners think are universal, but aren't (like "love", right?). I do think you're mixing up introversion with extreme, crippling shyness; I was talking about the later, not the former. I'm an introvert, for sure. This doesn't mean I don't speak, just that I like to have some time to myself, and that I spend a fair amount of time introspecting.

    In this way, my students are not introverted. These kids do not have a "sharp eye on the workings of the world". In fact, they are totally uninterested in the world, or anything not directly related to status/money. They may enjoy alone time, but mainly because they feel really uncomfortable in social situations since they never got to learn how to socialize. I never said or implied that they were idiots. Quite the opposite, in fact. These are people who are going to go to schools like Harvard and Stanford...and will have no friends the whole time. I don't think they're stupid, I think they're unhappy. They tell me they're unhappy, actually. They are the most miserable children I've ever come into contact with, and they have more economic privilege than you can imagine. But their parents don't care about their happiness. Their parents see their own children as tools to raise their social status. This is why they will force them to learn French instead of Spanish (French is considered prestigious, Spanish is actually useful in life) and why they will force them to study the violin instead of the guitar. I think all this sucks for these kids. But apparently it's just my cultural bias when I think that parents should care about how their children (or other humans in general) feel.

  5. well in this case I think that the best way to raise a child with this condition, is like the others similar condition, with patience and love.

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  7. No matter your child’s age, don’t lose hope. Treatment can reduce autism’s effects and help your child learn, grow, and thrive.

    autism attorney


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