You can hear the full interview here
The first impression of Tian made us wonder in surprise: how is this tiny woman tough and strong enough to cope with the fact that her son is autistic? What kind of courage must she have needed to set up one of the earliest NGOs in China and be willing to devote her life to helping other parents battle with the same difficulties?
Here's what we learned about Ms. Tian Huiping:
Formerly a university professor, she decided to further her studies in Germany in order to provide a greater foundation for her career. But when she returned to China in 1989, she found that her four-year-old son Taotao didn't act like other kids. Taotao was later diagnosed with autism. It was a tragedy to Tian, especially at a time when she had never even heard of the disease. Ever determined, she decided it was a calling to help other parents suffering from the same difficulties. In 1993, she came to Beijing and founded the Stars and Rain Education Institute for Autism. In the twelve years since, Stars and Rain has received over 3,000 families from all across China, helping parents to get to know the disease better and training them to work with the children when they return to school.
Our talk began with how her son Taotao is doing now. Tian said Taotao was her first teacher of the disease of autism, and she is and will always be hopeful, despite the fact that Taotao is still a "tough person" to deal with after so many years of effort. She observes and is greatly comforted by the little changes and improvements she has seen; he began to make his own bed, help her with housework and he continues to grow every day.
Outside her home, there is a bigger family for Tian. She naturally uses the term "our families" when mentioning the groups who are currently receiving training at Stars and Rain. Thousands of parents from all over the country bring their autistic children to Tian, hoping to get professional treatment through the ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) approach adopted by the school. Being a parent herself, Tian understands very well the difficulties these parents face: being away from home for a long time (each training period lasts 11 weeks), risking the possibility to lose jobs and the worry of who could take care of their children when they are no longer able. Tian tries her best to help each of them, finding places for them to stay, comforting them and raising awareness in the greater community to be more understanding and tolerant.
At the time that Tian was still a professor, she earned good money but lived a mundane life. Now she must live much more frugally, but she has found new meaning as a full-time charity worker. She saves as much as possible, but she is happy. Tian is appreciated by thousands of families already but is determined to continue devoting more.
If you'd like to make a donation:
Account Name: Beijing Stars and Rain Education Institute for Autism
Account Number: 2610118927
Bank Name: China Construction Bank, Tongzhou Subbranch (中国建设银行通州区支行)
Bank Address: 151 Yudaihe Dajie, Tongzhou District, Beijing
Swift Code: PCBCCNBJBJX
Stars and Rain
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Special Coverage: Awareness About Autism in China