Friday, July 22, 2016

A NEW "fad" in special education, Malaysia

A few days ago, I received a call from a total stranger who was trying to introduce me to "their new product" --- Special Education intervention ONLINE!!!! What is next? Perhaps, I can call up my car manufacturer and ask them to service my car ONLINE too! It's the same level of logic.

Parents, please be aware of quacks and cons in the field of special education. Someone who has a degree in banking and a Masters in Special Education is NOT a specialist of any kind. Would you go to someone for medical intervention if they told you that they have a degree in LAW and a MASTERS in Surgery??Again... it's the came rationale.

The field of special education in Malaysia is at an all time low because there is little legislation to protect and preserve the integrity of the profession.

And, please know.. that in special education, very very seldom is there a "cure" because having special educational needs is not a disease.  It's about the way the person is made up and how best to cater to the deficits and multiple facets that shape individual differences in special education.

Dyslexia does not go away, neither Autism or Down's Syndrome. ADHD and ADD can be controlled by medical intervention but to assume it can "disappear" is unreal. You can loose weight, or stop a headache but u can't make a learning difficulties go away for good.

Intervention changes over time as well. Obviously one cannot teach a 6 year old how to make notes if they are dyslexic Making notes is a skill that is introduced and taught at a later stage in academic life say around 13 - 15years old. You cannot assume that just because you have provided one year of intervention that that learner will no longer face any difficulties even at a later stage.

Something for Malaysian parents to ponder and reflect on. Be realistic.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Inclusion: Placing Learners with SEN in the mainstream classroom

Does inclusion truly work in our context, in Malaysia?

Looking at our system of teacher education, very few students offer subjects in special education during teacher training. So there is little to no awareness about learning difficulties or issues surrounding learning difficulties. This is within the government sector ( which many parents choose to complain about).

Now, lets look at the private education sector and their set of teachers - if at all trained even! Many "teachers" in International and private schools are not even "trained teachers"!! Just because you have taught tuition classes for 3 years, that does not make a person a qualified teacher! BUT, the same parents seem happy with this. Now, what background or understanding do you think a "non-teacher" is going to have about learning difficulties or issues surrounding Special education?

Back to the learner with special educational needs.. are they truly going to be better off within a mainstream system? Is placing them in a private or international school the best option, the best way for them to achieve their highest potentials? Or is it the best option for parents to feel that their child with learning difficulties is now "normalised"?

I do not understand how parents make decisions about this issue..I would think, if the priority is to educate, then inclusion in Malaysia is not the best option especially within the private and international school sector.

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.