Dr Yuan Gao

Dr Yuan Gao is an Honorary Fellow at Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre, La Trobe University, Australia, well-known adolescent peer education expert/trainer, policy advocator, and specialist of infectious disease prevention & control, particularly in the HIV/AIDS area. He is the father of a son with ASD.

He has won a number of awards, including the First Prize of Education Achievement Award by Shanghai Educational Commission of Shanghai Municipal Government, a Certificate of Honour awarded by UNICEF China Office, and the Vice-Chancellor Fellowship of the University of Melbourne.

Based on traditional Chinese cultural classics and wisdoms, Dr Gao and his wife have developed unique attitudes and methods of autism intervention. Their son, Michael, of 13 year-old with autism, who has been trained by them with these attitudes and methods, is now a year-six student studying happily in an ordinary primary school in Beijing, without needing any special assistance. In his spare time, Michael enjoys singing Peking Opera, playing 6 musical instruments and composing songs. He has won 13 prizes, mostly first prizes, in Peking Opera and music competitions. Dr Gao has been running workshops to share these unique attitudes and methods with parents of child with autism in a number of metropolises/provinces in China.

Dr. Gao held senior positions with a number of international organisations, including Programme/Health Specialist at United Nations Office for Project Services, Senior Advisor at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s China Office, the foundation Country Director for USAID’s Policy Project in China, Senior Research Fellow (the Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow) at the University of Melbourne. The Australian-Chinese joint peer education program that he directed reached over 100,000 young people and covered eight big cities/provinces in China some years ago.

Dr Gao started life as a bare-foot doctor in the countryside of Guizhou province, China, in mid 1970s. He obtained his PhD in Reproductive Physiology from Monash University, Australia, in 1992, and finished his post-doctoral research in the following year. In addition, he obtained a post-graduate diploma on Project Management, a one year course offered jointly by Peking University (China) & University of Management and Technology (USA) in 2004.

With his colleagues or by himself, Dr. Gao has published over 30 papers in peer-reviewed academic journals. He has published one book as Editor/Writer and three chapters in another two books.

Dr Gao will present on Days 2 & 3 and participate in the Q&A Panel session on Day 3.

Plenary presentation, Day 3
When Autism Meets Ancient Oriental Wisdoms: Dr Gao's autistic son Michael is 13 years old. Without special assistance he is studying happily in sixth grade at a primary school in China, and with little difficulty he is capable of communicating verbally with his teachers and classmates about study issues and other matters. He also gets along well with his friends and classmates. He is learning Peking Opera, music and other Chinese arts. Where is he heading for in the future? Michael once said in public when he was 10 that he would promote Chinese traditional culture in China and around the world during his life. The reason Michael has been able to become a quite capable and happy teenager from a typical case of autism has been that Dr Gao and his wife have obtained ancient Chinese wisdoms which have helped them to bring up him wisely. Dr Gao will talk about their unique parenting attitudes in detail.

Symposium 7, Day 2
A Parent's Journey: This is a case report about the progress of my autistic son, Michael, and how my wife and I researched and obtained wisdoms from ancient Chinese classics of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism (such as Disciples Regulation, Analects of Confucius, Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching, etc.) to assist Michael's acquisition of skills. Prior to this, we had learned much from attending seminars/workshops in various parts of China, however, he did not seem to be making much progress with the interventions we had tried. Gradually, we have developed unique parenting attitudes and methods (we call them acquiring wisdoms and fostering abilities) that were and continue to be suitable for Michael. He has been making wonderful progress and is now able to recite by heart some 80,000 words of ancient Chinese classical works, and is continuing to do more. In his spare time, he plays six musical instruments, sings Peking Opera and composes songs. Collaborating with his peers, they often put on shows together on the stage. He does housework as well on weekends. Most importantly, he is very happy at home and at school.

Also presenting in this Symposium:
Dr Kathy Ellem
Benison O'Reilly

Read more about Dr Gao.