Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Gov’t: Autism more understood

Gov’t: Autism more understood

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Em Chan Makara speaks to media. Facebook

Gov’t: Autism more understood

Government officials said on Monday that parents and guardians have a better understanding of autism these days, resulting in more children with the disorder receiving proper schooling.

However, civil society organisations (CSOs) have raised concerns about a lack of resources as there are still too few qualified teachers to help educate the autistic.

Officials and CSOs met on Monday with guardians and approximately 100 autistic children at the National Workshop for Policy Recommendation and Methodology for Data Collection under the Autism Mapping Project in the Asean Region at Tonle Bassac II Restaurant in Phnom Penh.

Disability Action Council (DAC) secretary-general Em Chan Makara said awareness of autism had improved recently because parents and guardians have been able to seek professional support services and send their children to school to receive specialist education.

He said in the 2017-18 academic year, an estimated 55,000 children and youths with disabilities were enrolled at school. Despite not having accurate figures, Chan Makara estimated that some 5,000 of those were autistic.

“We will further collaborate with CSOs to support the sector by establishing special education classes to enable autistic children to receive full aptitude, skills and knowledge training so that they can be active in society without facing discrimination,” he said.

Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life due to a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain in the areas of social interaction and communication.

Children and adults with autism have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions and leisure or play activities – which makes it harder to relate to their surroundings. Generally, autistic children need extensive care.

Chan Sarin, Cambodian Intellectual Disability and Autism Network (Cidan) president, said autistic children were highly vulnerable when compared to people with other disabilities.

He said there is discrimination in every aspect of the community and parents may become depressed, particularly as their voices are often not heard.

However, he said over the last three years, the understanding of autism had increased following widespread publicity, as it is a new concept for Cambodia.

“Although there are more than 10 organisations working with autism, only two to three are really active. Resources are still lacking – the number of teachers who have studied it is still very small,” Sarin said.

While some 200 autistic children attend Cidan schools, he said, many more parents are seeking specialist educational services but, due to a lack of human resources, the organisation currently cannot accept any more children.

Therefore, he hopes that stakeholders, especially the government, will become more involved in addressing the human resource and funding deficits in order to properly address the situation.

Sdeung Chinda, a guardian of an autistic child, told The Post that initially, he did not know about autism and constantly worried about his child because he was different from other children.

But after receiving counselling and knowing that his son had a diagnosed disorder, he was able to be more constructive and found him a specialist school.

Chinda said his son now has a more normal life and gets a lot of good attention from his classmates.

“Because this is new for parents like us, we would like to ask for further publicity and more schools for these kids to help educate them. When I didn’t know about my son’s condition, I sent him to a normal school. But there were so many problems because they didn’t understand it,” he said.

Dr J Bhoomikumar at the Center for Child and Adolescent Mental Health (Caritas-CCAMH) said: “Families seeking help at our centre for language and social communication challenges among their children in the background of early exposure to hand-held electronic devices has increased significantly.”

Tuesday is World Autism Awareness Day and the Caritas-CCAMH team, during Autism Awareness week from Monday to Friday, has organised free consultations and workshops to highlight risk factors those with autism face.


  • Phnom Penh unveils rules for post-lockdown transition

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a set of detailed guidelines for the seven days to May 12 after the capital emerges from lockdown at the onset of May 6. In the 14-page document signed by municipal governor Khuong Sreng released on the evening of May 5, the

  • SBI LY HOUR Bank Launches Cross Border Money Transfer Service between Cambodia and Vietnam on RippleNet, utilizing DLT

    SBI LY HOUR Bank Plc and Hanoi-based Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPBank) on Friday launched the first Cambodia-Vietnam money transfer service in real currency via RippleNet, provided by SBI Ripple Asia Co Ltd to provide safe, fast and convenient services. SBI LY HOUR

  • Gov’t issues guidelines as lockdown nears end

    The government has issued a five-page set of instructions to be enforced when the three-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province ends on May 6. According to an announcement signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 4, the instructions cover a

  • Cambodia ready to exit LDC status

    Cambodia is well-prepared to minimise economic risks when it graduates from its Least Developed Countries status, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Commerce on May 7. Four LDCs – Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh and Nepal – met at a virtual workshop last week to explore potential

  • Nine US franchises eye Cambodia debut

    Nine famous US franchising companies are looking for business opportunities and expansion into Cambodia to build a footstep for a strong foundation in Southeast Asia. The US embassy in Phnom Penh, in partnership with the US Foreign Commercial Service and with support from the American

  • Lost in translation: ‘Starvation’ in capital’s designated red zones

    “DACH bay” is a Khmer slang meaning a “loss of income”, that could also be literally translated to «deprived of rice”, which alludes to starvation. However, civil society organisation (CSO) officials have independently confirmed the government’s prior assertions that there are no cases of