April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day, a day to come together to learn about autism and support people affected by it.

Autism spectrum disorder

Autism spectrum disorder refers to a broad range of mental health conditions characterized by challenges in speech, non-verbal communication, social skills, and repetitive disorders. Cambodia has put measures in place to ensure that children with autism get education opportunities. There are several classrooms in state schools that cater to children with disabilities in the whole country. Through the classrooms, children with disabilities, such as those with autism, are enrolled in formal education programs, integrating them with other children of the same age.  In general, parents and society are taught the effects of stigmatization to protect the children from being discriminated against. Effective parenting also includes making sure that children have access to educational opportunities and are not distinguished.

Some organizations in Cambodia, such as OrbRom Autism school in Phnom Penh, are working harder to rehabilitate and fully integrate people with intellectual disabilities into society. Some organizations are training teachers and parents on the importance of ensuring that children with intellectual disabilities have access to education. The organization also continuously trains teachers in inclusive teaching methods. A good number of parents, teachers, and society, in general, are sometimes barriers in the quest to ensure that children with autism get equal education opportunities. Some still believe that children with disabilities cannot participate in social activities and cannot be educated. Exclusion is worsened by discrimination and the stigma that is associated with disabilities.

World Autism Awareness Day in Cambodia

The campaign against discrimination against people with disabilities has helped in improving education equality in Cambodia. However, the problem still persists. A good number of children with autism do not get equal education opportunities.

Children with disabilities are supposed to be taught about their rights and the importance of education. It is also important to encourage them to give their best in school and to have academic goals. Discouragement and the lack of confidence among children with disabilities is another barrier that makes them not pursue education. Teachers, parents, and society, in general, have to talk to children with disabilities and encourage them to follow their dreams because they are able. It is important to note that various children have been abandoned, and it is important first of all to give them a good place to stay and ensure they are cared for in the best way possible.

The life of every member of the family changes when a child receives an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis. Parents and the other members of the family have to put their primary focus on helping the child with autism and making sure that they enjoy life just like the other children despite the condition. The focus on the child is demanding to the members of the family and may put stress on their marriage, personal responsibilities, finances, work, and the other children. More attention will be put on the child with ASD at the expense of the other children in the marriage. It is important to educate the members of the family that takes care of the child with ASD.

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