The number of children suffering from autism has been rising rapidly in China and now there are altogether 1.8 million children with autism across the country.
Bai Xueguang, a professor of neurology at the Hubei Province People's Hospital in Wuhan, said that he sees an average of five to six autistic children each month.
Bai, who is also vice chairman of Wuhan's Association of Rehabilitation for Children with Autism, estimates the number of children with autism is growing at an annual rate of 20 percent nationwide, topping the world average of 14 percent.
Autism is a complex developmental disorder best known for impairing a child's ability to communicate and interact with others. Sufferers, mostly boys, develop obvious symptoms of the disease between one and three years old.
Professor Bai believes that children with autism should receive medical treatment between the ages of 2 and 12. With proper care at the right time, 20 to 30 percent of sufferers with the incurable disease will be able to live independently when they grow up.
(Xinhua News Agency August 12, 2004)