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Special Education Benefits Disabled
Disabled pre-school children have the opportunity to live a "normal" life after years of special education, a federation representing disabled people has reiterated.

The disabled children, especially those with only audio obstacles or autism, have "the possibilities and capabilities" of entering schools with able-bodied children after years of special education from an early age, said Xu Shenglin, an official with the Shanghai Disabled Persons' Federation.

Xu, who was formerly in charge of the federation's rehabilitation center, said some parents did not pay enough attention to their children's disabilities at an age when special education can do much to help their recovery -- children younger than seven years old usually have more success.

According to Xu, the Shanghai Rehabilitation and Vocational Training Center, which was established in 1999 with money from the municipal government, offers special educational services and charges even less than ordinary kindergartens.

The establishment of such rehabilitation institutions in big cities was a requirement of the China Disabled Persons' Federation after setting up the national rehabilitation center for disabled people in 1988 in Beijing.

Xu said Shanghai has completed a special service network, which covered rehabilitation institutions, special schools and charitable medical institutions for disabled people after decades of efforts.

Xu said a 7-year-old local boy, Zhang Yong, was last year found to have hearing problems by the centerís medical staff. His parents had planned to send him to a local school where he would only learn sign language.

Fortunately, Zhang received special education at the center for free, with an emphasis on pronunciation training.

Now he can answer simple questions.

Zhou Zhimin, the boy's teacher, told China Daily he was expected to enter a primary school with able-bodied children after more time at the center.

Zhou, a Shanghai native who has been working at the center as a teacher since graduating from East China Normal University, said the center now homes around 30 disabled children, half of whom are suffering similar hearing problems. A total of seven special education teachers work at the center.

(China Daily October 28, 2002)

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