Sec. State Em Chan Makara: Teachers and Parents of People with Autism and Down Syndrome Should Be EncouragedAa | aA
PHNOM PENH: The Secretary of State for the Ministry of Social Affairs and Secretary-General of the Disability Action Council, Em Chan Makara, stated that people with autism and Down syndrome need the most attention among persons with disabilities. He said that since both are mental conditions that need to be maintained throughout a person’s life, the presence and attention of parents, guardians, and teachers is essential and should be encouraged.
Speaking at the Conference and Celebration of Autism and Down Syndrome Awareness Day at Takhmao Special Education High School on Wednesday, 4 May, Secretary of State, Em Chan Makara, raised concerns about the challenges that people with autism and Down syndrome would face when they lose guardianship. He said that the government is now examining possible measures to help people with autism and Down syndrome during challenging times.
He said, "Now they are young and small, so they are okay! But when they turn 20 or so, things will be difficult. Right now, they may have parents and teachers, so it’s okay, but when the [parents, guardians, and teachers] are gone, who will take care of them? This is an issue that has no solution yet.”
According to the Secretary of State, the government is currently building the National Center for Persons with Disabilities of Cambodia, which is scheduled to open in 2023 as a place to help and care for all persons with disabilities.
Secretary of State Em Chan Makara further thanked the teachers, parents, and guardians of children with autism and Down syndrome for their hard work in caring for and educating the children. He also suggested that schools set up a curriculum to inspire children with autism and Down syndrome as well.
He added that the Royal Government decided to incorporate Hands of Hope Community into a public institution called Takhmao Special Education High School in February 2021, which is a special education school for children with autism.
The President of the Cambodian Autism Network, Chan Sarin, said that people with autism are people with complex neurological disorders and other problems that occur regularly as they grow.
He said, "It can be said that it is a general, non-specific development in children with autism to have social difficulties especially with people around them. No one has been able to confirm the exact reason why people have autism."
According to Chan Sarin, the special education high school currently has 215 students with autism and Down syndrome, and nearly 200 other students who are waiting to be enrolled. In addition, the school also sends students to study abroad to participate in both local and international competency competitions.
Secretary of State Em Chan Makara said he considered the participation of parents, guardians, and teachers in the care and education of children with autism and Down syndrome as a contribution to the government, saying that these people should be further encouraged. He said caring for children with autism and Down syndrome requires a lot of attention, so typically one teacher may take care of a class of only three students, unlike other teachers who may be responsible for a class of 25.
The Secretary of State also expressed his happiness over the students with autism and Down syndrome who are able to participate in international competency competitions, which also reflects how the government has been taking care of persons with disabilities.
He said that all of these achievements have been made possible due to the establishment of peace in Cambodia, which has made it so that persons with disabilities, and children with autism and Down syndrome, can receive proper care, education, and international opportunities.
He also thanked the parents and guardians of children with autism and Down syndrome for taking them to get the Covid-19 vaccine and urged them to continue receiving booster doses at the request of Prime Minister Hun Sen.