Austism in Korea - A Private Family Matter

by EKF (Europe Korea Foundation), 05/09/2008


In Korean tradition, the family refers to the extended bloodlines, extended family and community.  A new born person is not only the child born to a man and woman, but he/she is also an integral part of his/her family history.

Hence, until the person reaches adulthood; all members of his family have a responsibility to support him with the utmost efforts, sacrificing themselves.  Such being the case, the success of an individual is counted amongst the successes of all family members.

Therefore,when a child is born with autism, all family members, including grandparents, aunts, uncles on the Mothers side and Fathers side, become despondent and buried in grief.  They normally want to know how long complete recovery will take. They search for methods of treatment and seek a different diagnosis. Once a path of recovery has been chosen the family can be unyielding.

On occasion, the parents of an autistic child become interested in the medical cures and methods which have not been proven or are not based in science at all. They do not accept the fact that autism is a permanent genetic disorder. They never want to abandon their hope that their child will become normal.

Each member of the extended family dutifully consoles and supports the parents of an autistic child; however, they can also cause a great deal of stress.  Dont you know that this method is better than the one you currently use, or, This Doctor knows more, and Why didnt you know that? Quarrels flair over different aims and processes and opinions.  If this were not bad enough, blame must be placed, so the typical family with eventually try to determine who in the family is at fault for the childs autism.  Someone in the family, who has an unusual inclination, might be accused, the Mothers environment during pregnancy might be placed at fault thus the Father is blamed. Troubles and difficulties are getting more serious, the family grows weary and other problems emerge from this compounding the original problem of Autism.

There are more positive stories though in Korea where extended family Members serve only to support the decisions made by the parents and provide financial assistance when necessary. They are families that are able to focus on the good of the child and the needs of the childs immediate family. 

To date most Koreans have viewed Autism as a private matter. It is only very recently, that Koreans are beginning to recognize Autism as a societal obligation. Understanding and involvement is slow and hard earned. Necessary change is gradually taking place.

The Autism Society of Korea

The Autism society of Korea (A.S.K) is the leading private autism organization in Korea which was officially recognized by Ministry for Health & Welfare and Family Affairs in December 2006. It does not only act in the fundamental role of spokesman for the people with autism, but it also pursues a better quality of life for individuals with Autism and for the role in the communities in which they live. They need to find their place and live as vital members of their community and society at large. 

A.S.K. has been spreading rapidly throughout all over the country, being supported by numerous parents who have autistic children, and collaborators from higher social standing. Currently, A.S.K. has more than 12,000 members.   While the number of people/children by autism in Korea, A.S.K. can only guess to be more than 40,000 children/people with autism in Korea. With the comparison of 44 schools for handicapped children in Korea, there are only 6 specialized schools for Autistic students.

The Autism Society of Korea wish to provide effective and well directed services and appropriate information about autism education, treatment and research, building up the safeguards with equal respect for the people with autism and set up a Welfare Centre for Autistic Children/People, and starting last year, A.S.K is committed to organize an Open Summer Camp for Autistic Children and their family and siblings in Korea.

Another commitment from A.S.K for the autism community, A.S.K translated and published a famous book about autism Beyond the Wall By Stephen Shore in Korean language and with this book, A.S.K wish to help the society wider.

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EKF Drawing Competition Project for Austistic Children in Korea

The Europe-Korea Foundation (EKF), charity arm of the EUCCK, has been organizing a Drawing Competition Project for autistic children in Korea national-wide since the middle of June 2008. The EKF believes it will give the autistic children and their families an opportunity to express their dreams and feelings in life. This project will help autistic people and their family, to raise awareness about their experience and difficulties, and what people can do about it.

The 12 winning drawings will be announced on the website and by individual notification following screening by 3 juries with the idea to support the Universal Children’s day on November 20th, 2008 and the World Autism Awareness Day on April 2nd, 2009. 

The three juries selected by EKF come from diverse backgrounds but with autism understanding. Renowned art specialist Demi Kim, Prof Min Sun Kim from the Autism Society of Korea, and Young Min Lee, a Social Welfare Specialist. The EKF believes that with the support of jury, this drawing competition will be helpful to understand various dreams of the autistic children.

Having understood the importance and need for raising awareness about autism, until now Lego Korea, Atari Korea, Marposs Co. Ltd and Deutsche Bank have joined hands to support this project. 

Autism is much more common than most people think.   People from all nationalities and cultural, religious and social backgrounds can have autism. It is a lifelong condition: children with autism grow up to become adults with autism.  The exact cause of autism is still being investigated. However, research suggests that a combination of factors may affect brain development. 

Many people with autism have keen special interests often from a fairly young age. Their interest may change over time or be life long, and can be anything from art or music, to trains or computers. Some people with autism may eventually be able to work or study in related areas. For others, it will remain a hobby.

For more information about sponsoring this event, please contact : dessy@ekf.or.kr, phone number 02-725-0310 or fax number 02-725-0383.

 

 

 

 

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