Home>Study>Student Stories

Disability no bar to student obtaining top marks, admission to university

By HAN JUNHONG in Changchun and ZHOU HUIYING | CHINA DAILY | Updated: September 3, 2021
  L M S


Xing Yifan shows the certificate of merit he received in class at his high school in Jilin city, Jilin province. CHINA DAILY

Xing Yifan and his parents were thrilled to learn that he had been admitted to Beihang University with a score of 645 out of a possible 750 points in this year's national college entrance examination, or gaokao.

It would take most high school graduates great effort to score that high.

But the challenge for 18-year-old Xing was greater, as he was born with congenital muscular dystrophy, or CMD, a group of disorders characterized by muscle weakness and problems with the eyes and central nervous system.

Born in Jilin city, Jilin province, in 2003, Xing's family were delighted with his arrival and did not notice anything wrong until three months later.

"When we took him for photos at a studio, the photographer told us our son wasn't able to do the same things other babies his age could," said Xing Dacheng, Xing Yifan's father.

"He advised us to take him to the hospital for physical examination."

The family spent a month visiting different hospitals in Jilin city and Changchun, the provincial capital, but were unable to get a definitive diagnosis.

After the Spring Festival in 2004, the Xing couple took him to Beijing for treatment, and he was finally diagnosed with CMD at Peking University First Hospital.

"Although we were psychologically prepared, we never imagined our son would grow up with such a condition," Xing Dacheng said. "Furthermore, the doctor told us there was no effective form of treatment."

When relatives and friends heard the news, they advised the couple to have another baby, but they were determined to pour all their love and care into their son.

"Yifan is an angel who came to our family," the father said. "He might have broken wings, but we will never give him up."


Xing studies with a classmate at school. CHINA DAILY

Over the following years, Xing Yifan's parents took him for rehabilitation and regular examinations at local hospitals, but to little effect.

The young man's health continued to deteriorate. As a result of his condition, he is unable to grow much muscle, so his skeleton suffers from a lack of support and protection.

"He has never walked independently and can only sit against a support," said Xing Dacheng.

"And every 30 minutes, he has to lie down to rest, even in the classroom."

The condition has also deformed Xing Yifan's spine and fingers, making it difficult for him to write. "His teachers and principals from primary school to senior high school never refused him the opportunity of education and gave us lots of help," his father added.

Hou Suyun, head teacher at Xing Yifan's primary school, carried him up and down stairs during the six years he spent at the school.

Yang Weihong, head teacher at Xing Yifan's junior high school, gave him extra care but subjected him to the same strict academic requirements as his classmates.

"I tried everything I could to stimulate his desire to study, hoping to give him more confidence," Yang said. "I also hoped he would discover his own sense of worth."

Yang's methods worked. Xing Yifan got the highest score in his school for the senior high school entrance examinations in 2018.

To prepare for gaokao, he studied even harder from the day he started at Jilin No 1 Senior High School. "He rarely went to bed before the midnight, especially in the third year," his father said. "To avoid creating trouble for others, he didn't drink much water at school to reduce his need to go to the toilet."

In September last year, Xing Yifan suffered a fracture to his right shoulder and had to stay at home to recover.

A camera was set up in his classroom to allow him to follow lessons on his computer at home.

After three months, he returned, and to his teachers' surprise, had improved instead of falling behind his classmates.

Over the past few years, Xing Yifan has won multiple prizes and is a source of inspiration to classmates. The young student has inspirations of his own.

"I felt quite inspired when I read the story of British physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking," he said.

"I will continue to study hard at university, and I hope I can be someone like him, who changed the world with his knowledge."

The family is now looking forward to the new university semester, although there are still some unknowns.

"Due to his physical condition, we've seldom taken him out of the city," Xing Dacheng said. "But when Yifan starts university life in Beijing, his mother will take care of him full-time.

"We both believe it will be a new beginning for our son."