Li's heartache over autism

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 May, 2010, 12:00am

Martial arts star Jet Li Lianjie drew on personal experience in his first non-action role as the father of an autistic boy in Ocean Heaven.

Li (below, centre) revealed that his nephew also suffered the neurological disorder, which impairs communication and social interaction.

'About four or five years ago, a teacher complained to my sister about my nephew's behaviour and suggested he might have autism,' Li said. 'He stayed home for nine months after that, hiding himself in his room and refusing to allow anyone inside.'

Li, 43, said the boy would not speak. 'My sister and everyone in my family were so worried ... I had no idea what autism was.'

The family sought help from experts and his nephew's condition improved. 'He is now studying in Japan and recently sent me a text message on my birthday.'

Ocean Heaven, the debut movie of mainland director Xue Xiaolu, will be screened at mainland charity events to raise awareness of autism.