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Ministry vows opportunities for the intellectually disabled

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The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation says it has set the goal of removing the obstacles that those with autism and Down’s Syndrome face when interacting with society. Photo supplied

Ministry vows opportunities for the intellectually disabled

As Cambodia marked World Autism Day on Tuesday, the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation said it has set the goal of removing the obstacles that those with autism and Down’s Syndrome face when interacting with society.

The ministry has pledged that those with intellectual disabilities will be able to receive education from specialist teachers as they lead independent lives with support from their communities.

To mark World Autism Day, the Ministry of Social Affairs this year held a meeting with the theme Removal of Obstacles to Social Participation by Autistic and Down Syndrome Children at a teacher training centre in Kandal province.

Approximately 900 people attended the event, including those affected by autism and Down’s, teachers, civil servants and relevant civil society organisations.

Minister of Social Affairs Vong Soth said he was pushing for the removal of economic and social barriers so those with autism and Down’s Syndrome do not face discrimination and can live with dignity.

“This year, I am calling for enhanced human resources development, especially for teachers and professors to have the capacity to train intellectually disabled persons from the primary school level to higher education, with the goal of providing them opportunities to receive equal rights in the education sector,” he said.

The secretary-general of the Disability Action Council at the Ministry of Economy Em Chan Makara said awareness of autism has risen in Cambodia over recent years.

“Participation in society by intellectually disabled and autistic persons is of great importance in order to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The government has resolved to reach these goals,” Chan Makara said.

In the 2017-2018 academic year, an estimated 55,000 children and youths with disabilities, including 22,000 girls, were enrolled at school. Despite not having accurate figures, Chan Makara estimated that 5,000 of them were autistic

Donald Triplett was the first person diagnosed with autism by Dr Leo Kanner of the Johns Hopkins Hospital in the US in 1938.

People with autism typically have difficulty interacting socially and communicating. But they may display superior abilities in other areas.

Autism was estimated to affect 24.8 million people worldwide as of 2015.

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