Gasoline guzzling teen accepted by social welfare center

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A deaf and mute Mekong Delta boy, whose gasoline guzzling habit made headlines a few months ago, has been admitted to a local social welfare center.

Huynh Ngoc Dung, director of Long An Province Social Welfare Center, told Thanh Nien Wednesday that Ho Van Thao, 15, is being taken care of at the faculty for people with mild mental problems.

"After doctors from the provincial General Hospital examine his condition, and if he is pronounced stable, he will be transferred to a school for deaf and mute children," he said.

According to the provincial Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, Thao will receive academic and vocational training in the center.

Thao, who was born deaf and mute in a rural village in Long An, grabbed headlines several months ago after his habit of stealing and drinking gasoline was discovered by Thanh Nien.

His mother left him when he was a newborn. Soon afterward, his father married another woman and moved out.

Thao has lived with Ho Thi Sau, his 81-year-old grandmother, in Moc Hoa District, since he was eight months old.

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The boy started drinking gasoline some four years ago. He had to sneak into villagers' house at night to steal gasoline to satisfy his thirst.

After his story was published, some philanthropists arrived in Long An to bring Thao to Ho Chi Minh City for medical examinations.

Thao was diagnosed with hyperkinetic disorder, moderate mental retardation and receptive language disorder.

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