Allen Sandler has been a faculty member in Old Dominion University's Department of Early Childhood, Speech-Language Pathology and Special Education since 1982. His area of specialization is severe disabilities. He has authored papers in major professional journals of his field, including Mental Retardation, Exceptional Children, and the American Journal of Mental Retardation.
Sandler became involved in humanitarian work in
central Vietnam during a visit in June 1999, when he found
that children with disabilities had few educational opportunities
in that very poor country. In response to a request for
help from a Buddhist nun, Sandler enlisted the help of a
Swiss organization and, with the aid of Hampton Roads residents,
raised approximately $54,000 to build a school for these
children. The school is named L' Ecole de l' Aimee
(School of the Beloved) for Sandler's sister, Aimee, who
has a severe disability.
The success of this initial project led to additional projects carried out under the auspices of Old Dominion University's Office of International Programs. The lack of trained special education teachers in central Vietnam was the impetus behind a teacher-training program developed with Hue University. During Sandler's tenure as a Fulbright Scholar in the 2002-03 academic year, the first special education teacher training program in central Vietnam was established with funding from the Northern Virginia-based firm Diversified Educational Systems. To enable additional children with intellectual disabilities to attend school, funds were raised to build and operate eight new classrooms at neighborhood schools in Hue City.
The Central Vietnam Surgical Intervention Project was begun to provide medical care for children with disabilities and congenital heart defects, in cooperation with the Office of Genetic Counseling and Disabled Children at Hue Medical College. More than 100 poor children from throughout central Vietnam have now received life-sustaining cardiac surgery through this project.
Finally, in cooperation with Catholic Charities of Hampton Roads, Sandler initiated the Freedom from Restraint project at an orphanage in Ho Chi Minh City to provide staff training and resources to better serve children with severe disabilities who display self-injurious behavior.