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World Autism Awareness Week-2019 under the theme “Assistive Technologies, Active Participation” is announced for this year and Caritas’s Center for Child and Adolescent Mental Health program (CCAMH) celebrated for "Empowering mothers, Promoting inclusion". The event primarily aims to encourage people to participate in this event celebration and raise awareness about autism and how to support and include them. To reach as many people as possible, three main activities were organized in this special event. First, there was a free-consultation with parents of children with autism and communication challenges. Second, there was art-based and fun activities organized particularly for children to play with their parents. The third main activity was yoga-sessions for parents and caregiver of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Following a series of events to commemorate the day from 1st to 4th April, Caritas’s Center for Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CCAMH) team has offer free consultations, art-based activities to children, yoga sessions to mothers and workshops are held for teachers, parents, and caregivers on specific therapies such as Parent-Child Interaction, Sensory Integration therapy, Picture Exchange Communication and Structured Teaching for autistic children, highlighting the theme for this year.

On the concluding day of Autism Awareness Week at Chey Chumneas Referral hospital in Kandal province was to honor and felicitate mothers of children with autism on 5th April 2019. The chief guest H.E Mme. Manika Jain, Ambassador, Embassy of India in Phnom Penh felicitated the mothers of children with autism, and the event presided by H.E Mme. Nhem Morokot, Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Women 's Affair, Royal Government of Cambodia. Approximately 180 people attended the event including parents, caregivers of children with autism, school teachers and staff of NGOs working with autistic children. Autism is a growing problem and many children and families seek help for this chronic condition Dr. Kouy Bunthoeurn Director, Provincial Health Department, Kandal. He highlighted the long-lasting collaboration and support to the Chey Chumneas Referral Hospital from the Government of India, through the Embassy of India in Phnom Penh to improve the health care services rendered at Chey Chumneas Referral Hospital, since the 80s. This center has grown to be a model unit in the country due to the efforts and leadership of Dr. Bhoomikumar Jegannathan, Program Director who is working at (CCAMH) Chey Chumneas Referral Hospital since October 1996. Most of the Cambodian professionals working at the center viz. the doctors, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, child mental health nurses were trained in India with the help of the Embassy of India. He was glad H.E Mme. Manika Jain, Ambassador, Embassy of India and H.E Mme. Nhem Morokot, Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Women's Affair is here with us to felicitate and honor the mothers of children with autism on the occasion of World Autism Awareness Week. We sincerely hope with the "ever growing and strengthening ties and friendship" between the people of Cambodia and India, the situation of parents particularly mothers of children with autism will improve.

Ms. Sok Dearozet, Program manager presented the research conducted at CCAMH which revealed that parents particularly mothers of children with autism are highly stressed and suffer from sleep and mental health problems. Sharing by a mother of son with autism and took yoga Ms. But Sokheng expressed her feeling that first, she wasn't aware that her son having autism that he often plays alone, does not respond to call, not looking to the eyes, like to run and jump,..etc and felt hopeless about him which is different from other children. After receiving consultation and structured teaching at Caritas-CCAMH, her son is able to communicate in short words, can request, can read, write a few words and join in group activities at school. She also would like to say to other parents shall have hope for the child with autism who can learn like other children but need to spend more time, be patient to teach them and seek professional help as early as possible for effective therapies. She also felt proud to Caritas-CCAMH which provides not only service to children with autism but also help parents to learn yoga from yoga teacher working at Embassy of India, Phnom Penh to reduce the stress level and improve the quality of life among parents who have children with autism.

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