Over 85 million Chinese are currently living with a disability or special needs. What most of us, across cultures, consider to be life milestones (education, friendships, a love life, and a career, for example) can be demonstrably more challenging to achieve for those living with these difficulties. Within the past year, we’ve noticed an increase in education and advocacy about these issues, with the government even designating August 25th as China’s “Disability Prevention Day.”
Though the use of the word “prevention” when so many in China were born with or are currently living with disabilities could be considered a stark word choice, it is a clear sign that these topics are becoming more open for discussion. Chinese cultural reticence has unfortunately prevented much talk about these issues.
We went into this issue wanting to show families that people living with these difficulties shouldn’t be a source of shame to be hidden away, but rather loved and valued members of our community. We were happy about how forthcoming people were to share their stories with us about their experiences in these areas, and hopefully, it will be a helpful resource for future expat families thinking about moving to Beijing.
Along the way, we also conversed with the most inspiring children that we have ever had the pleasure of meeting. You can see them pictured in our cover feature titled “We’re Different, We’re the Same” (p46). Here, they shared with us a bit about themselves and how they wish to be viewed beyond their respective special needs.
In addition to this, we talked to numerous specialists in the field of learning support and education about what they are doing to better assist these children in overcoming a wide range of difficulties. It is important that families know that they are not alone and that there is a support system available to them in a handful of international schools or private institutions if needed.
We hope this issue will become a recurring topic for beijingkids because it’s something that we know is not only important but will also continue to be in the spotlight as people from China and abroad become more open and begin promoting advocacy for increased support. After all, a day recognizing “Disability Prevention” can only do so much.
Photos: Dave’s Studio
This article appeared on p6 of beijingkids March 2018 issue.