Thursday, June 9, 2016

Reading and Spelling difficulties

Intervention for reading and spelling run hand in hand and there are specific ways of attacking the issues. Again, a one-size-fits- all approach generally will work only in 50% of the cases. The best way is to have your child assessed properly, and then commence a reading or spelling programme.

Learning to read involves so much more then just learning phonics. If phonics instruction was the only solution to reading problems, then, the world would not have to deal with struggling readers at all!  With phonics instruction, the methodology is important too. Its not just about making your child go through a Phonic series - popular ones in Malaysia are Peter & Jane and some other off-the rack workbook series.

There are a series of processes involved in learning to read effectively and typically, it will take 12 - 18 months to go from no reading to being able to read independently. Any other rushed methods like 6 week crash courses and 3 month reading programmes will not be effective as most of these will advocate reading by rote.

Very often, parents ask me why no improvement and its been 3 months other teachers are promising reading in 1 or 2 months. Sure, they will to make a few dollars. Be patient, research reading as a skill and you will better understand why reading instruction must be structured and never rushed.

Spelling is closely tied in to the reading ability. If reading was rushed and forced and taught by rote, then spelling will lag way behind. If reading instruction is effective, then the learner will learn to read and spell simultaneously. While it is easier for a child to read on sight, it is not easy to spell on sight. This is a pointer that the reading programme is not effective.

If you child can read, "mat, cat and bat" then, they should also be able to spell the same without difficulties and also be able to spell " sat, rat and hat" without having to be taught them explicitly.

Assessments in special education

 Lately, I have been getting lots of questions from parents about assessments. As with everything else in Malaysia, everyone is jumping on the band wagon of assessments. What parents need to know before seeking assessments from a very broad perspective.

Assessments can be broken into two broad types: Assessments to diagnose a difficulty and place a label and the second, is  Cognitive assessments where we assess to inform intervention and identify the facet of difficulties. These are formal assessments.

Psychometric tests are tests used by qualified assessors including  reading specialists (with proper training), clinical, education & developmental PSYCHOLOGISTS. Medical doctors generally, are not trained to run cognitive psychometric tests.

If someone simply says they "tested the reading and spelling and maths abilities of a learner" and does not name the specific test used then, it would be safe to assume that the test was non psychometric and informal.

A Psychologist - qualified should carry titles such as " Chartered Psychologist" or "Registered Psychologist" and have a registration number and are typically registered to practice in the UK, US or AU. At present time, Malaysia does not have a proper registration and practice policy.

Assessments are important in order to be able to effectively put in place intervention programmes. A wrong diagnosis or poor interpretation of psychometric tests can lead to wrong intervention procedures and thus, no progress in the learner's abilities.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Happy 2016!

Just a short note to express my gratitude to all my followers and readers. Thank you for your support and I hope the information you gain from this blog has been useful to you and your friends!

Look out for 2016 articles that will be coming out shortly..thank you for your patience.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Blue Print for Education 2013-2025 - for student teachers who should know about it

The Blueprint has some good recommendations but I am not sure how they wish to implement it in detail as those documents are not available to the public. You need people with qualifications ( knowledge ) and field experience (skills) n specific areas discussed. It is well and good to put forward a commercial sounding proposal but without the necessary expertise, how is it going to happen? Preliminary-Blueprint-ExecSummary-Eng_0.pdf

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy - Teenagers and their problems

 A new proactive way to address issues with teenagers' anxiety about growing up.. a worthy read. Should you wish for sessions, please contact us via
 Read more about this new method of addressing behaviour problems in a proactive way

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

More action in Special Education field

It is nice to see that more action and initiative being taken to cater to our learners with special educational needs.

Archive for the ‘Education Specialist Centre (UM-Edu Spec)’ Category

UM launches education specialist centre to solve national education problem

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
KUALA LUMPUR: Universiti Malaya (UM) today launched its Education Specialist Centre (UM-Edu Spec), the first education hospital in South East Asia, in an effort to improve the quality of education in the country.

Vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Mohd Amin Jalaludin said UM-Edu Spec would be a meeting centre for experts in various fields to conduct research and indirectly assist the government and other agencies in drafting new policies which are more futuristic.

“There are several programmes under UM-Edu Spec, including the children learning rehabilitation programme, as well as counseling services for problematic individuals or institutions,” he said.
He was speaking after the ground-breaking ceremony of the Postgraduate Research Hub Laboratory at the UM Education Faculty by UM Board Chairman Tan Sri Arshad Ayub, here today.

Mohd Amin said the five-storey building which was being build at a cost of RM10 million was due for completion in May next year.
Meanwhile, Education Faculty dean Prof Dr Saedah Siraj said the UM-Educ Spec would play a role in searching for effective strategies to meet the special education needs of children.

Read more @

Friday, August 8, 2014


Dyslexia is not the only type of reading difficulty that exists. Learners with dyspraxia, hyperlexia and those garden variety poor readers face difficulties decoding and to a certain extent, even encoding texts. Reading is a necessary for us to comprehend language in its written form and is a necessary means for people to communicate ideas using a specific writing system. The two skills, reading and writing are therefore interlinked. Difficulties in one area will affect the other area as well.

The most common type of difficulty recognized in Malaysia is dyslexia – a difficulty associated with poor reading, writing and spelling skills. Dyspraxia is another type of difficulty that can cause reading to be difficult as it involves deficit in speed of processing information. Those with dyspraxia find processing language laborious and it often takes them longer to do this than their peers their own age. Again, reading is slow because it takes them time to digest the information before being able to act on it. Hyperlexia is a difficulty whereby the learner is able to read large chunks of text and sometimes even commit it to memory with little or no understanding of what was read.  This lack of comprehension is a form of reading difficulty as the main purpose of reading is to derive meaning.

It is very important to have the expertise in identifying the various types of reading difficulties. This is so that, the most effective type of intervention can be provided to help the learner maximize their learning outcomes. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

MMR and Autism 2013 findings.... read on


Yet another new finding... I agree with vaccinations but when it causes harm and permanent and lifelong damage I feel its worth taking extra precautions.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Dyslexics: Tapping on hidden strengths

Dyslexics, we know, face great difficulties with learning how to read. Seeing as reading is a core requirement of a successful mainstream schooling experience, most dyslexics feel frustration, and often end up with poor self esteems as they approach secondary school. The article below, though an old one, I found to be comforting. It may not be a specific provision for learners with special educational needs but nevertheless, I feel it is a move that could benefit learners with dyslexia who usually have a special talent in sports.


Game enough to take PE to new heights

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012
A programme recently initiated for selected schools aims to encourage children to take up a physical activity that is very much within their ability.
THE BRITISH government intends to deliver its promise of a sports legacy programme to inspire youth to participate in sports, after winning the bid to host the London 2012 Olympic Games this year.
“International Inspiration (II) is a programme aimed at giving the world’s youth a holistic and an inclusive sports education experience,” said II trainer and SMK Keningau, Sabah, physical education (PE) teacher Bilong Ngerong.
The programme is being carried out by the British Council in partnership with the Education Ministry, the Malaysian Olympic Council, the Malaysian Paralympic Council and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).
And that’s how we do it: Husna explaining how the II programme will involve all students in sports, in line with the “One Student, One Sport” policy
The programme’s main agenda is inclusivity and has a special focus on getting students with disabilities involved in sports said Ngerong.
“It ensures every student gets the most out of PE and sports despite their different health backgrounds or disabilities.
“The programme is revolutionary because it takes into consideration the difficulties of putting together activities that fit every student.
“Instead of putting the burden of planning out PE activities solely on the shoulders of teachers, it uses a set of illustrated action cards, to guide teachers through suggested activities,” he said.
Even though action cards are not new educational tools, the way in which the cards provide guidance and illustrate activities definitely depart from convention said Ngerong.
“The images on the cards not only show how to carry out activities for normal students, it also describes how to change elements of the activity to accommodate disabled or weaker students.
“This way teachers are able to tune PE classes to be ‘robust’ or ‘soft’ depending on the capabilities of students in a particular classroom,” he said.
He added that the cards and the methods they suggest are particularly helpful to non-optionist PE teachers who have little or no PE background.
Ngerong notes that the biggest challenge as a PE teacher is not producing the next national athlete but to get every student interested in sports.
“The goal of PE in school is to get students to enjoy sports and gain as much as possible from participating in them so they can lead a healthy life.

by Aminuddin Mohsin.
Read more @

Socialization in mainstream schools: Learners with Learning Difficultties

Very often, I meet parents who cannot wait to mainstream their children with learning difficulties. While it is easy to understand why, it is important to consider the merits and limitations of the mainstream education system where learners with difficulties are concerned.

Here is my take on the mainstream where learners with difficulties are concerned.


Parents feel that their children can only make friends in a mainstream environment. With homeschool coordination provisions, classrooms may be smaller, and friendships less, but friendships ARE assured, due to more facilitation and higher level of adult involvement (encouragement, bridging, discussions, etc). Within the mainstream, teacher - student interactions are limited to formal situations of learning. If a learner fails to develop friendships independantly, no one will help facilitate this. This can be very traumatic for a learner especially once the other kids realise that one or two learners are different. Kids these days are terribly competitive and selective of the friends they have. Once alienated, it is difficult for the learner with difficulties to break-in again with the group. Children, like adults share stories and draw conclusions.

 For example lets take this very real scenario:

Child 1 to his Friends: " Do u know that Jac is always getting a scolding for not finishing his homework." or " Ms M is always telling Jac off about his terrible handwriting" or here is another one, " Jac cant even read one line! It was so funny that we all laughed coz the story was so easy!"

Child 1 to his MUM: That's Jac, the boy/girl who is alwasy getting in trouble with Ms M. She says Jac has terrible handwriting, and has to be try harder to read properly. She also says that Jac should finish homework like the rest of us do.

How would u feel if you were Jac the kid? How would you react if u overheard such a conversation as the Mum of Jac the kid? How do you think the Mum of Child 1 would react? How would that reaction affect Child 1 and in turn, Jac the kid?

Of all the learners I have dealt with over years who were mainstreamed, nearly 90% of them have shared scary socialization stories.  Feel free to write your thoughts or share your child's experiences..