Monday, July 29, 2013

MMR and Autism 2013 findings.... read on

New-evidence-shows-MMR-link-autism


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 @ http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2012/4/22/education/11090845&sec=education

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.

Socialization

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..

 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Babies with or without special needs

Over the last few weeks, I have had the most wonderful experience of being part of the first 30 days in a child's life. He is my nephew. Being with him day and night and watching him grow and develop provided some very useful insights in to the normal development of an infant.

When should parents start stimulating their children ? Some books say, from birth, others, at 3 months or 6 months. What is this "stimulation" itself? How do you stimulate a baby - who only is awake long enough to be fed, changed, cleaned and burped? Which is the most important area to be stimulated? Most parents, especially first time parents, would instantly say the "intellect" without hesitation.

WRONG!

Child development theory tells us that the most important aspect of an infant's life is the need to feel safe in this "new" environment. Bear in mind, the only environment the child has experienced was the one in the womb - which consisted of a dark, confined space, consistently loud body function noises from the mother and where food was provided automatically.

Then, birth takes place. They are suddenly having to deal with a new environment where it is bright, with inconsistent sounds, they are free to move and now, food is no longer automatic, temperature is no longer controlled- sometimes hot, sometimes cold, sometimes too cold or hot. Diapers are put on them for the first time. Smells becomes apparent. This is really alot to take in when you list it down like this, isnt it? So, forget the intellectual stimulation for now.

The first few weeks in an infants life should be kept calm, temperature controlled, kept dim ( not oo bright, not too dark) and the focus should be on helping the baby make this transition from the womb to the world a smooth one. How can we achieve this? By TOUCH! That is why it is important for mothers and fathers to cuddle the babies and hold them as much as possible. This is the first and most important form of stimulation - to provide safety and make the child learn to feel secure in this new environment.

Of course, some books will tell u that babies should be taught to self soothe from early on.. but seriously folks... if you were suddenly placed in the Northpole would you not want to be held tight, kept warm and not be left all alone to fend for yourself?

So remember... the first level of stimulation after birth should be done by touch and holding and hugging. This is known as providing tactile stimulation. Everybody understands a hug..its universal..:)


 

Towards a disabled friendly nation

Strategies for better access

Friday, March 15th, 2013
Sweden points the way to creating a disabled-friendly city.
ACCESSIBILITY is very much a buzzword in the disability community these days. So, it was little wonder that more than 200 participants packed a training centre’s seminar hall during a recent forum in Kuala Lumpur.
Called “Towards An Accessible City”, the event was a joint collaboration between the Swedish Embassy – through its commercial arm Business Sweden – and KL City Hall.
This was the second time that such an initiative was held by both countries. The first was a similar forum in February last year, which focused on the deaf in society.
“Only with active participation, awareness and support from the local authorities and citizens, can this idea (of an accessible city for all) become a concept that would later lead to a lifestyle,” noted Bengt G. Carlsson, Swedish Ambassador to Malaysia, at the opening of the seminar.
Expert speakers from Sweden tackled the thorny issue of how to transform a non-friendly city into an accessible one. They shared success stories of how the country got in tune with its disabled residents over the years and provided for their special needs.
It is hoped that their input could help Malaysia develop strategies for building a barrier-free environment. We could come up with ways to make more areas wheelchair-friendly and accessible to the blind.
Other areas that we need to work on include helping handicapped people to communicate more easily and have access to vital information about themselves, no matter where they come from.
It is also important to ensure that people with disabilities are treated with respect and dignity, have the same right to education as non-disabled people, and are able to hold jobs so that they can support themselves and their families.
They must also have access to recreational facilities all over the country.
Sweden, for example, has invested a lot in tourism. The seminar revealed that extensive accessibility programmes have been introduced in Stockholm since 2000. One of the notable success stories of that initiative was a 2011 project called “Stockholm – A City For Everyone”.
The city began consciously creating an environment for people with a wide range of disabilities, not just wheelchair-users.
by Anthony Thanasayan.
Read more @ http://thestar.com.my/columnists/story.asp?col=wheelpower&file=/2013/3/14/columnists/wheelpower/12832627&sec=Wheel%20Power

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Speech related problems in Malaysia

Very often, parents start to panic when their child does not start talking by age 2-3 years - and rightfully so. The questions is what can parents do to determine the best course of action once they realise that their child has not started talking while other children in that age range are almost fluent.

The first step would be to conduct a hearing test to see if there may be some hearing impairrments involved. Typically, parents feel that a hearing test is only done for the purpose of identifying deafness. Seriously, folks, if your child was deaf, surely you would have noticed it! These days hearing tests can check for decibel hearing loss, which is simply the fact that some people cant hear certain levels of sound. In children, this could cause a delay in learning to speak. Auditory processing disorders in the early stages can also manifest as delayed speech in the early years. If the way sound is processed is distorted, it is quite natural that speech acquisition will be delayed.

Another reason children have delayed speech acquisition is because it could be one of the early signs and symptoms of dyslexia, dyspraxia or even hyperlexia. Some only children are raised in environments where learning to talk is simply unnecessary too! Believe it, children will not learn to talk unless they feel there is a valid reason to talk!

The solution?

Quite simple actually. Once the hearing test is done and it comes back normal, then the next step should be a good early intervention programme which focusses on language application. Often in Malaysia, parents think of speech therapy only. Bear in mind, speech therapy is for those with speech IMPAIRMENTS - a speech delay does not constitute an IMPAIRMENT. An IMPAIRMENT like tongue tied conditions, deformity in vocal chords or stroke do indeed require speech therapy per say with a qualified speech therapist. However, a good intervention programme like the ones run at Sri Rafelsia ( www.srirafelsia.com ) or the Rafelsia Homeschool programme for learners with delays and difficulties ( www.homeschoolmalaysia.com) have high success rates in providing language enriched early intervention programmes.

As Programme Director, my experience of 12 years working with young learners with speech delays is that once they undergo proper intervention, they start talking and don't stop! Parents come back to complain that their kids talk too much now...:) Of course there are no programmes yet available to "stop" talking but the happy parents having spent hundreds and thousands of speech therapy  have found a solution with an education based intervention programme instead.






Monday, April 30, 2012