Supporting Little Lyhouy on the Way to Life-changing Improvements

Lyhouy during break time at Rabbit School. Photo: Vong Vuthy/Rabbit School

Khmer version

When Lyhuoy, an 11-year-old girl with Down’s syndrome, joined Rabbit School in Cambodia, she had extreme difficulties in expressing social skills. At times, she would hit and hurt her fellow classmates and at other times, she would retreat in fear of everyone. Often you would find Lyhuoy playing alone with a ball or other toys and she would never attempt to play with the other kids.

Lyhuoy also had cognitive development setbacks. She would find it hard to draw a straight line let alone a picture. This came from the fact that she had difficulty holding a pencil to draw and write. She could also not recognize the different colors, letters and numbers that were taught in the classroom. Reading was also a big challenge for her.

Social Skills and Cognitive Development in Progress

In 2017, this little girl’s life changed! Within just a year at Rabbit School, Lyhuoy’s life, her behavior, socializing skills and intellectual development improved immensely and continue to do so.

Socially, she is among the friendliest and happiest in her class. She likes to play both inside and outside of the classroom with as many friends as she can get to play with. Her confidence continues to grow and she is not afraid to let the teacher know what she needs. 

Lyhouy’s cognitive development, especially in terms of language, continues to improve. She has illustrated the ability to recognize a few different colors, vowels and consonants, even excelling in her matching exercises. Additionally, she can hold a pencil and write a few letters on a blank paper properly. She can now also understand and follow instructions from her teacher especially when the teacher calls her name. Her favorite task is to be asked to do matching exercises on the whiteboard.

Lyhuoy with her classmates and teacher. Photo: Vong Vuthy/Rabbit School

Rabbit School is one of a very few schools in Cambodia that have been working with children with intellectual challenges. It has been operating for over 20 years. It promotes the rights of these children and provides them with special education. All of their activities are characterized by respect for everyone’s dignity and encouraging the community’s involvement. Currently, there are 640 students in the education program. Rabbit School’s educational program is designed to help develop children with intellectual differences and to work towards their integration into society.

Through a targeted grant from the Voice program, Rabbit School is able to train parents like those of Lyhuoy and help them to better care for their children with intellectual differences as they get a formal education at the school. While Voice does not support children’s projects directly (we target vulnerable youth groups), we do recognize that the parents of children with special needs require a supportive infrastructure in which inclusive education plays a huge role.

Students from Rabbit School celebrating World Autism Awareness Day 2019. Photo: Uy Sareth/This Life Cambodia

*A special thank you to Lyhuoy, her parents and the Rabbit School for this story. At the request of her parents and herself, Lyhuoy’s name has been changed.

Text by: Vong Vuthy/Rabbit School