Chinese Autism Support Group is created as a platform for the families living with Autism and related conditions. We aim to gather the parents together, to help each other, to be each other’s mutual support. To learn how we can better support the children to ensure that they have every opportunity to achieve their potential.
We support the Chinese families of children with various special needs- both parents and children. The Chinese community in Wales includes settled migrants to asylum seekers. We have families from both groups, but mainly from the community of Chinese asylum seekers.
Chinese children and their families with special needs are facing huge difficulty accessing the services and help due to the language barrier. Also, it is due to the lack of knowledge about the condition of Autism, nor the understanding of how to support their children. In addition, within the Chinese community, Autism is viewed more as an affliction, an embarrassment, almost like a taboo. No one wants to mention the word ‘Autism’. Thus, the disadvantage a child faces within this culture is magnified and the genuine risk is that the children in that group will be stigmatised. This results in a very real probability of never being able to learn to understand themselves or to express themselves, to be included and to form a part of the wider society in the future. These families are isolated and the lack of acceptance has greatly added to their stress.
Understanding of Autism varies greatly, although Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is now very commonly recognised in the UK and Wales. It is still a relatively new concept within the Chinese community and one which some community members struggle with, or do not accept. Today, stigma and stereotypes towards Autism have become one of the most significant challenges that Chinese families with children diagnosed with Autism have to face within the Chinese cultural context.
An interpreter can be particularly important when complex and sensitive information is being explained, such as an assessment or a diagnosis. CIWA has been informed of instances within the Chinese community when interpreters misunderstood English speakers experts/doctors or inserted their own cultural assumptions. Which loses the clarity of what the professional might have been seeking to communicate. Some medical terms are difficult to interpret, for an interpreter without the specific knowledge of Autism. Or the term has no direct/simple Chinese word, this sometimes could result in the use of words with negative connotations (e.g. ‘disease’) which had not been intended by professionals.
We are proud to say that we are the only organisation in Wales who have a team of interpreters that are specially trained to be competent with Autism terminology.