In order to fully understand the employees of Inclusion Factory, we specially planned the “Heartfelt Stories” series to share their stories with everyone. Through interviews with family members, we can understand the development process of employees and the journey of their families. We hope that this can be used to appeal to more people to respect and understand people with intellectual disabilities, and to provide help to their families so that they are no longer alone.
The protagonists of today’s story are Yao Shengjie—an employee of Inclusion Factory—and his parents.
Say no to isolation, refuse “captivity”
In 2003, Yao Shengjie was diagnosed with autism at the age of three.
It’s a tough diagnosis for any parents to hear, and Yao Shengjie’s parents also found it hard to accept the fact. Raising children with autism presents unique obstacles which must be carefully navigated.
The first obstacle his parents encountered is that while taking care of the hyperactive Shengjie, they must also take the initiative to find ways for relatives, friends, and people around them to understand and accept him. His father even gave up his job and took Shengjie to Nanjing to attend a half-year training program. He hoped that his child could live like a normal kid instead of being quarantined.
Later Shengjie went to a school for children with special needs. When it was time for him to graduate and enter society, the question came up: where was he supposed to go?
Work, for a lot of people with autism, is a challenge. After Shengjie entered his adulthood, his parents found Inclusion Factory through a friend’s recommendation. Today, Shengjie is 20 years old and has worked at Inclusion Factory for two years. He has become independent!
From zero social life to active socialization
After returning from Nanjing, Yao Shengjie’s father opened an auto repair shop in Kunshan to help support the family.
The first year when Yao Shengjie was in the shop with his dad, he ignored the customers and did not communicate with anyone. He was sealed off in his own world.
“Ever since Shengjie went to work in Inclusion Factory, his whole personality has changed. He started to actively engage with others. When I am chatting to clients in the shop, he will introduce himself and tell my clients that he makes marbles and plastic balls. Our family was amazed.” Shengjie’s father said.
Whether it is a charity school or a training institution, Yao Shengjie was always the passive one. However, with his experience at Inclusion Factory, Shengjie grew both in school and society. With this change in living environment, his ability to communicate increased and his social skills grew. Finally, he was fully qualified for his job. Shengjie now has boosted his self-confidence, and he has begun to slowly open himself up.
Yao Shengjie’s mother said, “Before Shengjie went to work, his best relationship at home was with his father. Since he started working, he actually took the initiative to call me ‘Mom’ for the first time, grew closer to me, and took the initiative to communicate with me. Now he is willing to help me with housework, washing dishes and drying clothes and so on. He is a smart, capable and handsome young man. ”
Yao Shengjie’s progress and active socializing have put the whole family at ease. Everything used to have to be about him, but now their heavy hearts have been put to rest. Yao Shengjie’s parents expressed that the benefits they gain from him having a job far exceed any disability subsidies they receive from the government.
Confidence, patience, and perseverance are all indispensable
In addition to operating the shop, Yao Shengjie’s father is also responsible for driving him to and from work every day. He said, “There are 105 red lights, and a round trip takes an hour and a half. I have been doing this for three years. Now I can recall the route in my mind with my eyes closed. ”
When we asked what made him insist on the 30 km round-trip pick up and drop off every day, he replied, “Because he is my son, this is my responsibility and obligation. Even if it is hundreds of kilometers away, we are willing to send him to Inclusion Factory. ”
For a family, raising a person with intellectual disabilities is a long-term battle with no endpoint. It requires confidence, patience, and perseverance.
Translation is supported by Inktale Shanghai.