Patients with autism depend on realistic approach

2021-04-02 12:02:13

A staff member helps an autistic boy use his hands at a children's rehabilitation center in Jishou, Hunan province. [Photo/XINHUA] Experts rule out link between disorder and high intelligence Ten years have passed since the curtain rose on Ocean Heaven, the first Chinese film to tell the story of autistic patients and their families. Directed by Xue Xiaolu and starring Jet Li, Zhang Wen and Gwei Lun Mei, the movie continues to score extremely high ratings on numerous websites. On the review platform Douban, some 50 percent of moviegoers gave the film a four-star rating, while 25 percent said it merited five stars. On mtime, a popular movie discussion website, nearly 300 of 5,769 respondents gave the film 10 points out of 10. However, the movie has only earned 14.02 million yuan ($2.13 million) at the box office, a near-record low for Li, the lead actor. In comparison, Tangshan Earthquake, which was screened one month after Ocean Heaven, has recorded ticket sales of 649 million yuan. According to one popular comment on Sina Weibo, "Everyone who watches Ocean Heaven likes it, but the problem is that not enough people have decided to go and see it." Sun Zhongkai, head of the Beijing Stars and Rain Education Institute for Autism, which helps autistic patients and their families, said there is a major problem in sharing knowledge about the developmental disorder with the public. Although there are a growing number of reports about autism and its patients, accounts that lack "standout points" rarely attract much attention. Online reports about autism nearly always include links that guide the reader to stories or videos tying the disorder to examples of genius. A commonly seen headline is "Ten autistic geniuses that changed the world", with scientists Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton, along with composer Ludwig van Beethoven always on the list. According to a 2003 study by Simon Baron-Cohen, an expert on autism based at Cambridge University, Einstein and Newton may both have had symptoms of Asperger's syndrome, the central condition in the group of difficulties known as Autism Spectrum Disorders, or ASD. Wu Liangsheng, a senior teacher at the Beijing Stars and Rain Education Institute for Autism, said that during his days as a teacher he met autistic patients who were especially talented, but in general, high intelligence among those with the disorder is extremely rare. "The exact ratio of autistic children who have extremely high intelligence is not known-but it is surely less than one in 10,000. The majority of autistic patients are not extraordinarily talented, but they do face all kinds of difficulties in life", he said. Standing out Zhou Jian, a senior neurology doctor at the Brain Hospital of Hunan Province in Changsha, the provincial capital, said there is no medical evidence suggesting a strong possibility that autistic children have a high degree of intelligence. "Some autistic patients are so engrossed in their own environment and care little about the outside world, so if they do something that looks miraculous to others, then they stand out," she said. "For example, they could draw a duck in fine detail, including every visible feather, but this should not be mistaken as genius. Even Asperger's syndrome does not necessarily mean extremely high intelligence." Lack of knowledge The mother of a 26-year-old autistic patient said her son, Li Jiayang, was diagnosed with the disorder in 2005 when he was 10. The woman, who only wanted to give her surname of Yang, said her son showed signs of autism, such as having little concern about his surroundings, when he was 1, but at the time, local doctors had scant knowledge about the disorder, so they did not know how to help him. Yang said some autistic patients are so "wrapped up in their own world" that they are capable of outstanding achievements. "My son could memorize a dictionary when he was a child, but could not do so after he was diagnosed and we started taking measures to help him. I think that might be the case in other reports about 'geniuses'," she said.