Thu, Apr 12, 2018 - Page 4 News List

PROFILE: A mother of a child with autism first

ALWAYS A CAREGIVER:Wang Yu-ling, who became a Control Yuan member in January, advocates for the rights of people with disabilities and donates regularly

By Chung Li-hua and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Control Yuan member Wang Yu-ling displays artwork made by autistic children during an interview in Taipei on March 21.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

Despite her many experiences, Control Yuan member Wang Yu-ling (王幼玲) said she believes her most important role has been as the mother of a child with autism.

Wang, who assumed the Control Yuan post in January, has been a nurse at National Taiwan University Hospital, a reporter at the Independent Evening Post and the secretary-general of the League of Welfare Organizations for the Disabled, among other roles.

Her son was rejected from a preschool more than 20 years ago, Wang said, adding that at the time she held a news conference declaring that the “zero reject” policy was a lie.

The preschool later accepted her son, but after spending three days with him at the school, Wang discovered that the ability of children with disabilities to integrate into a mainstream classroom depended on whether the government had provided enough support for the teachers and schools, she said.

In the end, Wang decided to enroll her son at a special needs preschool, she said.

After her son graduated from high school, taking care of him posed a new set of challenges, she said, adding that her hand was once broken twice in a month.

She finally had to send her son to a care center during the day and hire a foreign caregiver, she said.

No matter how many subsidies the government offers, there is a limit to how much help they can provide, Wang said.

The biggest challenge for parents of children with autism is being able to find the services they need, she added.

Shortly after Wang became a Control Yuan member, a mother in Keelung committed suicide by burning charcoal and killed her son with autism in the process.

Wang ordered an investigation and discovered that many local health officials had given the mother false, bureaucratic responses, she said, adding that she knew which resources were available for people with autism and which were not.

Wang said she has been a caregiver since she was a child.

While her father took care of her sick mother, she was responsible for looking after her six younger sisters, she said, adding that she studied nursing because she wanted to help take care of her mother.

Once, she carried her mother up five flights of stairs because the elevator was broken, she said.

In 2008, Wang was charged with corruption and the judge wanted her to plead guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence, but she felt conflicted knowing that there would be no one to take care of her son, she said.

She did not see why she should give in if she did not commit the crime, she said.

The legal battle lasted for five years and, in the end, Wang was found not guilty.

After becoming a Control Yuan member, Wang pledged to donate NT$60,000 every month to the Chilin Foundation, Humanistic Education Foundation and other organizations for autism advocacy, as well as to drunk driving prevention.

She has already set aside money for her son’s expenses, Wang said.

Every November, Wang still takes to the streets with various organizations to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities.

Wang said she plans to purchase works of art created by children with autism to hang on the walls of the Control Yuan to add to the collection already in her office.

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