The story of Ken Jeong, a 20-year-old Canadian living in China, has captivated a generation.
His story is not one that has been told before, but one that is still being told.
Ken was diagnosed with autism at age 3, his mother says.
He has a developmental delay and has trouble communicating, she said.
“He is not a happy kid,” said Jeong’s father, Ken Jeon-Young, who was born in Hong Kong.
“But I think it was a big thing for him that he could talk and understand.
That’s why I feel very grateful.”
Ken Jeongs parents, Jeong and his sister, Yim, met in China.
They came to Canada in 1996, and Jeong started attending school at 16.
The Jeongs settled in Vancouver, where Ken started studying English.
He went to a school in Vancouver with a bilingual teacher, but was not able to speak English.
“I didn’t know any English,” Jeong said.
It was not until Jeong moved to the University of British Columbia that he finally learned English.
At UBC, he met Yim and Ken.
Ken told Ken he wanted to become a doctor, Jeon said.
Jeong took Ken to medical school in China but was rejected.
He enrolled in a program at the University and, two years later, moved to Canada.
Jeon told Ken his English skills were improving, and that Ken had a good work ethic.
“Ken is very bright and motivated,” Jeon recalled.
Ken said he was excited about coming to Canada, and Ken told him he wanted his family to come with him.
Jeons family moved to Edmonton in 2000 and Ken moved with them to Surrey.
“It was a good environment for Ken to get his feet wet,” Jeons mother said.
They were not able, however, to make it in Canada, as Ken had difficulty making connections with friends in Canada.
He was diagnosed in 2006 with autism.
“His autism was not diagnosed at that time, but in 2015 it was diagnosed,” Jeonge said.
Ken’s diagnosis changed his life, and he said he felt like a stranger in Canada as well.
“A lot of the time, we felt like Ken was a second class citizen,” Jeongs father said.
And it became a huge struggle to get Ken to school.
“Every time we went to school, we had to stand in line, because he couldn’t read and write,” he said.
As a result, Ken had to use an interpreter to communicate with students.
“At the time we couldn’t have any friends,” Jeonse said.
He said he wanted Ken to know that there were people who cared for him and his autism.
Jeonge wanted Ken and Yim to come to Canada so that Ken could start to live independently.
Ken moved to Vancouver, and they moved to Surrey in 2010.
“We had to find somewhere that was affordable,” Jeung said.
In October 2011, Ken told his parents he was moving to Toronto, and the Jeons bought a house.
He started going to school at the high school in Surrey, but he was not accepted.
“So, I was not happy with my situation,” Jeones mother said, adding that she is now worried about her son.
Jeonse’s mother is worried that Ken’s English skills are going to be lost if he is unable to attend school.
His mother said Ken’s lack of English has been a big problem for Ken.
“Even when I went out to eat with him, he couldn`t understand me,” she said, noting that he cannot talk or understand when she says she likes food.
“When he speaks, he doesn`t sound like a human being,” she added.
Ken is not fluent in Mandarin, but is able to communicate through spoken English.
Jeung and his family hope Ken will be able to make the transition to English.
Ken has also started to make friends, Jeonge’s father said, but they are still trying to understand him.
“As we try to understand the language Ken is speaking, he starts to feel uncomfortable, so he is very anxious,” he added.
“In the meantime, I am trying to teach him how to read.
But he doesn’t understand that he can’t understand me.”
A study published last year in the journal Child Development looked at the history of autism in Canada and found that, on average, one in five children with autism was born into poverty.
The study found that the percentage of people living in poverty in Canada increased between 2003 and 2009, while the number of children living in families with at least one parent with autism increased.
In a 2015 paper, researchers at the Johns Hopkins University found that there are now more than 2,000 families with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Canada; they are concentrated in Toronto and Vancouver.
As of 2018, there were 2,400 people living with autism in the country, and 2,942 people