How Can I Help You?

Sophaneth Heng Profile picture

Sophaneth Heng

Special Educational Needs Teacher

  • Master Degree of Education
  • The ABCs of Applied Behaviour Analysis

  • Autism Focused Intervention-National Professional Development Center

“I want to contribute my help and support to parents who are open to their children’s problems and willing to learn to support their children the way they are supposed to be supported..”

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FAQ

I am Sophaneth Heng. I have a Master’s degree in Special Education from Flinders University, Australia. I have 8years of experience in Education working with children with special needs.

Special Education Cambodia was created to raise awareness, and share information with parents and Cambodian citizens about children with different disabilities.

I was inspired to start this page because of confusion and misleading information that some people have about children with special needs and their conditions. A lot of the time, people believe that special needs children, especially with autism, can be cured or improved with traditional medicine, rituals, milk powder or even by something as simple as eliminating gadgets from their life. I have also seen and heard the struggle of parents who have spent thousands of dollars on the wrong interventions, holding onto false hopes that someday their children are going to be the same as everybody else, instead of looking for the right support and accepting the way they are. For this particular reason, I think it is important for me to put myself out there as a source of information where parents and guardians of the children can access information that is transparent and straightforward.

Being transparent and straightforward are the two main qualities that are very important to me and to SEC.  Being transparent and straightforward means, we have to tell parents the way it is although it is hard for us and for them. Being transparent and straightforward means telling them to accept their children, to stop hiding from their problems, and to look for the right support on time rather than being scared of their children’s conditions. It is important to bear in mind that at the end of the day, it is not about us. It is about the children and how we are going to support them in a way that they will be able to function independently in this society. How important do you share videos and info about Autism?

I personally believe that it is extremely important to share information about different types of disabilities, not only Autism. There are a lot of disabilities out there such as learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities and other neurological disorders. They are all worth sharing and learning about. It is crucial to be aware of different types of disabilities, especially for teachers and parents because by knowing the type of disabilities and what the children have, we are able to understand and learn how we can support the children according to their needs.

I think we are going in the right direction. I think people are starting to be more aware of Autism and they are very interested in learning more about it. In the meantime, Mr. Chan Sarin from Hands of Hope Community has done significant contributions in special education sector. He has been working with national and international organizations to create educational policy for special needs children based on Cambodian context and spread awareness through multiple means for Cambodian citizen.

According to Mr. Chan Sarin, Director of Hands of Hope Community and a president of Cambodia Autism Network, there are 1158 children with autism based on the latest data collected on 19 April, 2019. This number is based solely on 6 provinces and it is expected to go up to 20000 people if we do not care or do not have reliable information about this condition.

Children with autism are very different from each other. This is why the name of autism is Autism Spectrum Disorder. While they share some common characteristics mainly, social, behavioral and communication aspects, it is crucial to keep in mind that no two autistic children are the same. Each of them is on the spectrum and, thus, the condition varies from one to another. I mention this because I want to emphasize how important it is to take this into account. It is important because when supporting children with autism, it really depends on each child and his/her needs.

There is no cure and shortcut to this. I do not know for the future but for the moment Autism is a part of the disability. A disability means a condition that limits one’s ability to do certain things. For example, blindness. There are alternatives for blind people to learn to live and carry on with their life. The same thing is with people with autism. There are interventions that can be used to support them in a way that they can use to learn how to live and function in society. This includes daily living activities, social and behavioral aspects that can strengthen one’s ability in interacting and living in society.

No evidence has been shown as to what directly causes Autism. However, there are a few factors that are linked to Autism. Those are genetics which is strongly correlated to Autism, and other factors such as pre-, peri-, and post-natal variables.

For the moment, my focus is on raising awareness. I train, free of charge, teachers and parents willing to learn about special needs education. I provide advice online and on phone calls to parents.

Having a degree in Special Education is required. We are equipped with specific and evidence-based interventions. We observe, interpret and adapt the curriculum based on the needs of the child. We closely collaborate with the parents to keep consistency both at home and at school.

For the well-being of the kids, parents need to have patience, acceptance, and trust for the process of the interventions. Most importantly, send the kids to special schools for early interventions as soon as they can. As Mr. Chan Sarin, Director of Hands of Hope Community and a president of Cambodia Autism Network, pointed out that parents should send their children with autism to schools before the age of 4 or as early as the age of 3. This is because it is the best time for early interventions for children with autism. In addition to this, parents should also do the following:

Putting the children to special needs school during the age of 36 months.

  1. Choosing schools that equip with special education specialists in order to promote Physical Education, Music, Arts, Language, and Communication.
  2. Allowing children to join in different activities with typically developing children to learn about the surrounding environment.
  3. Working closely with schools because parental involvement is very important for special education.

Like any other jobs, being a special education teacher can be demanding. The most challenging part is to keep up with their unlimited energy. It can be exhausting sometimes after a full day at work.

The improvement of a kid depends on the levels and the strategies implemented. For example, one of my nonverbal students starts using simple words to communicate within one year as well as language communication and better behavior aggressive.

Sophaneth Heng

Special Educational Needs Teacher

How Can I Help You?

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