Archive for the ‘Persons with special needs’ Category

Early intervention services for disabled children

Thursday, April 5th, 2018


Amber Huang (left) conducting the weekly activity for students at EIC Sandakan

SANDAKAN: The Early Intervention Centre (EIC) located adjacent to Sabah Cheshire Home Sandakan provides early intervention services to children 3 to 12 years of age and their families in order to promote optimal development for children with disabilities.

The EIC is situated within the compound of the Sri Harapan Senior Citizens Complex at Jalan Sibuga. EIC was established in 2006 for children with behavior problem (Autism). Today EIC has four staff and five students.

A volunteer from Taiwan, Amber Huang, has been conducting a two-hour weekly activity for the children since April 2017.

“Our trained caregivers / teachers with experience in special education will ensure the children entrusted to EIC are in a conducive environment and get the best care and education,” EIC supervisor Nita Kigi said.

“At EIC, we also want to instill awareness on care, education, employment, rehabilitation, access and health among persons with disabilities,” she added.

According to Nita, various programmes and activities are organised to assist the development of children with disabilities at EIC.

The EIC operation time is 7.30am to 5pm from Monday until Friday. It is closed on weekends and public holidays, Nita said.

Nita said parents of children with Autism can enroll them at EICSandakan.

On fees, she said parents will have to pay a one-time registration fee of RM50 while monthly fees are RM350 (full day) and RM 250 (half day) for one student.

by James Leong.

Read more @

Dyslexia didn’t stop pilot from achieving dreams

Sunday, February 11th, 2018
Captain James Anthony Tan with the ‘Spirit of Malaysia’ in London in 2013. FILE PIC

KUALA LUMPUR: Who would have thought that the man who dared to travel solo around the world in a single-engine Cessna 210 Silver Eagle aircraft at the age of 21, was once a victim of bullying.

Captain James Anthony Tan, 26, who was enrolled at a national-type Chinese primary school, recalled that he was scolded and caned by his teachers because of his poor performance. He was also made fun of by classmates.

He said he had difficulty following the learning process in the classroom, and could not read or write until he was about 9 years old.

“This caused me to have low self-confidence, and soon I became naughtier and more defiant.

“However, I always knew that the way my mind worked was different from other kids,” he said.

His mother, Olive Beverley Tan, noticed that Tan had difficulty speaking, had poor body movement and lacked hand-eye coordination.

Olive, who was puzzled by Tan’s condition, reached out to her sister, who was in the United Kingdom, for advice.

“At that time, it was very difficult to get information or help.

“There were limited reading materials on the topic (of learning disability) and the Internet was not available yet.

“Even the teachers were not aware of such a condition.

“Instead of trying to understand the situation, the teachers would blame the child for not paying attention.

“So, I spoke to my family in the UK.

“Then, my sister started sending me books on the relevant topics.

“That what started me on the road of education,” said Olive, who later pursued a Master’s Degree in Special Education.

James was diagnosed with dyslexia at 8, and was enrolled in a special course under the Dyslexia Malaysia Association (DMA) in the pioneer batch, for one year.

Tan also attended a one-to-one class under an American teacher, who was based in Singapore, for about two weeks.

“My problem was I couldn’t ‘see’ the alphabets.

“The only way that I could register the alphabets was by using all three senses — sight, hearing and touch.

“So, what we did was (during the class session) we used clay to make the alphabets, which helped me to imagine what an ‘A’ looked like and what it represented,” he said.

Tan said his mother used to ferry him to DMA in Titiwangsa from their home in Kajang daily, easily spending three to four hours on the road, just so he could attend the special course.

He then attended the Cempaka International School for O Level, before pursuing his studies at the Western Australia Aviation College in Perth.

He then attended the Bournemouth Commercial Flight Training and Oxford Aviation Academy in the UK.

Tan said he began his first professional job as a ferry pilot at 18 or 19, where he was given the responsibility of delivering junk planes to various countries, before becoming a private jet pilot.

Tan is also running several companies in various fields, including an alternative learning academy in Kajang that caters to children with learning difficulties.

“Because of my learning difficulties, I was very bad. I was a horrible pilot actually.

“I had bad hand-eye coordination and my learning difficulties still, in part, interfered with my studies.

“But, having a dream is vital to succeed in the face of life challenges.

“Thanks to help and guidance, I was able to learn the basics, and get better (in my studies in college).

“The most difficult part is always the starting point,” he said.


Dyslexia: ‘Growing up, I was labelled lazy and stupid’

Sunday, February 11th, 2018

HE was often punished for his poor grades at the Chinese primary school he attended in Penang.

“I had short attention span. I daydreamed and played a lot in school.

“My grades throughout my school years were either average or below average.”

But, Fitri excelled in sports, music and story-telling. He was even made head prefect in secondary school.

It was only when he was 25 that Fitri was diagnosed with dyslexia by a lecturer when he was studying at Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom in 1997.

The lecturer noticed Fitri had symptoms of dyslexia as he had difficulty putting his thoughts in writing.

This was when he was working on a dissertation and had to do a presentation.

“I still remember during the last week of my final year examination, my lecturer met me to discuss my dissertation.

“During the meeting, he pointed out that I showed symptoms of being dyslexic.

“What he told me that day completely changed my life.

“I was lucky that the university had teaching staff who were trained to identify people with learning disabilities, and was equipped with the tools to support students with dyslexia like me,” he said.

Fitri graduated with a degree in Computing and Software Engineering and is now working as a manager at the Malaysian Institute of Microelectronics Systems Bhd.

He is also the president of Pertubuhan Sokongan Ibubapa Dyslexia Malaysia.


Read more @

Dyslexia: Are we reading the problem right?

Sunday, February 11th, 2018
Children with dyslexia performing at an annual concert organised by the Dyslexia Malaysia Association in Kuala Lumpur in November last year. PIC BY MASRIWANIE MUHAMADING

KUALA LUMPUR: IT takes a trained eye to identify a child with dyslexia and, more often than not, many are passed off as lazy or unintelligent.

In Malaysia, only one per cent of the schools have teachers trained to deal with such students. There are also concerns that many children with dyslexia may not be identified early enough.

Early detection gives children with dyslexia the opportunity to develop to their full potential. Failure to do so, can be disastrous.

The Dyslexia Malaysia Association (DMA) and Pertubuhan Sokongan Ibubapa Dyslexia Malaysia (PSIDM) believe the solution lies in training more teachers for these children.

There are 100 schools with special classes run by qualified teachers to support children with learning difficulties, including those with dyslexia, nationwide.

PSIDM president Ahmad Fitri Isahak said more teachers, both in primary and secondary schools, needed to be trained — to be able to recognise the symptoms of learning disability.

“The training to identify learning disability, including how to differentiate them, should not be confined only to special education teachers. This should be incorporated into teacher’s training at the diploma level,” he said.

He said PSIDM had received complaints from parents that their dyslexic children were rejected by schools, which feared that they might affect the schools’ overall grades and performance.

“Such incidents can be a traumatic experience for both parents and children.

“This should not happen, as schools should offer equal education opportunities to all children without prejudice,” he said.

Fitri said a new education policy was needed to ensure that equal education opportunities were given to all, including those with learning disabilities.

DMA president Sariah Amirin said it was crucial that children with dyslexia be properly diagnosed and exposed to appropriate teaching methods, particularly during the early stages of schooling.

She said early intervention was vital for a child to learn to deal with his learning disability.

“Dyslexia may affect the learning ability of a child to read or calculate (dyscalculia or mathematics disorder) for instance, but that does not mean he lacks intelligence.

Che Noor Julita Hazleen Che Kar, a teacher at SK Taman Maluri in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, attending to dyslexic pupils in class. FILE PIC

“A child with dyslexia can be as capable and smart as other children. Some of our former students are lawyers, pilots and engineers now.

“The brains of dyslexic children work differently from normal children and, hence, they require different teaching techniques. They require more stimulation,” she said.


Read more @

Directory for special needs children launched

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

KOTA KINABALU: The ‘2017 Directory of Services in Kota Kinabalu for Children with Special Needs’ is now available to guide parents in seeking advice, counseling and intervention for their young children diagnosed with special challenges.

The directory, jointly compiled by the Sabah Mental Health Association and Sabah Caring and Helping Individuals Learn and Grow (C.H.I.L.D.) Association, and sponsored by the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu, was launched here on Monday evening.

The directory offers around 10 schools and early intervention centres available in Kota Kinabalu and its surrounding areas.

Sabah Mental Health Association president Patrick Chin emphasized that professional counselling and early intervention were imperative to enable children with special needs, such as autism, acquire simple skill sets to improve their chances of leading better lives with training.

He said the number of children with autism has increased over the years and many went undiagnosed because their parents were either unaware or in denial of the signs of autism.

Chin pointed out that a lot of parents whose children require special educational needs insisted on sending them to normal schools, while some left their children at home.

He said autistic children would show signs such as inability to communicate, speak or express themselves.

Nonetheless, Chin said there were varying degrees of autism and some autistic people were, in fact, brilliant individuals.

“Some autistic kids are very smart but they cannot communicate.”

He said children with autism were usually referred to Hospital Mesra Bukit Padang.

But with hundreds of patients registered at Hospital Mesra, the hospital simply cannot cope, especially when children with autism require professional therapy up to three times a week, he said.

Hence, Chin said the directory provided a list of private occupational therapists or trained professionals who could devise programmes for improvement and give these children the best chance in life.

He stressed that there were a lot of opportunities for children with special needs below the age of eight to improve and acquire learning skills.

He said the schools and early intervention centres enabled parents to follow up and monitor their children’s progress.

Chin said having a child with special needs was very stressful for parents.

He said these parents worried about the future of their children when they are no longer around.

By undergoing professional training, Chin said children with special needs could learn basic life skills, and hopefully education.

Eventually, he said these children might be able to live or work on their own.

“With professional tuition and training, they will have a better chance of having an improved lifestyle and able to interact with society.”

A total of 1,000 copies of the directory have been printed and will be distributed to kindergartens.

The directory can also be obtained at Sabah Mental Health Association located at No. 111, Lorong Ikan Papayu, Off Jalan Mat Salleh, Sembulan, Kota Kinabalu. The association can be contacted at 088-248 197.

by Chok Sim Yee.

Read more @

Education for all students

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR : THE Education Ministry is holding true to its promise of increasing access to education for all, by giving due attention to special needs students and continually finding ways to improve special education.

With 78,310 special needs students in the country registered with the ministry up till today, the ministry and the government are not hesitant to invest in them with hopes that they will in the future be among contributors to a greater Malaysia.

A spokesperson for the Special Education Division said, since 1990, Malaysia had been showing significant progress in special education, primarily on its curriculum, teacher supply, pedagogy, as well as the establishment of the Special Education Department, which has now become the Special Education Division, a clause on special education in the Education Act 1996 and the introduction of the Education Rules (Special Education) 1997.

“Currently, we have special needs students in 34 special education schools, 2,272 national schools that offer the Integrated Special Education Programme (PPKI) and 4,995 national schools that offer the Inclusive Education Programme (PPI).”

The PPKI sees special needs students study in the same school as mainstream students but in different classes, while the PPI sees special needs students immersed with mainstream students in the same classes.

The Special Education Division was in charge of special education schools which are made up of 28 Sekolah Kebangsaan Pendidikan Khas, two Sekolah Menengah Pendidikan Khas and four Sekolah Menengah Pendidikan Khas Vokasional nationwide

“Education Rules (Special Education) 2013 defined special needs students as those among six categories, which are hearing-impaired, sight-impaired, speech-impaired, physically-impaired, learning difficulties and multiple disabilities.

“The Malaysia Education Blueprint (2013-2025) also called for increasing enrolment of special needs students in the PPI by improving the quality of the programme offer holistically.”

With the aim to produce quality human capital, special needs students are not trained to just follow instructions but to also have knowledge, skills and good character, constantly be on the road to self-improvement and have the ability to work with minimal supervision.

In relation to achieving the National Transformation 2050 (TN50) and producing an excellent younger generation in 30 years to come, teachers must be creative in educating students, including special needs students.

“The mode of learning for every special needs students is different and they need well-planned, relevant and realistic pedagogy modifications.

“Teachers must be the thinkers of pedagogy in planning, moulding and producing dynamic approaches to the teaching and learning process.”

Sekolah Menengah Pendidikan Khas Vokasional Shah Alam is one of the four special education schools that specialises in vocational education.

The school’s administration senior assistant, Khairulanuar Suhib, said the school offered 10 courses for special needs students, including desktop publishing, hairdressing, housekeeping operation, furniture production and operation, as well as batik production and operation.

“All our courses have been certified by the Skills Development Department (Jabatan Pembangunan Kemahiran) and consists of three phases.

“The school currently has 205 students, where 101 of them have learning disabilities, 97 have hearing disabilities, six have multiple disabilities and one has physical disabilities.”

The classes, he said, have an average of eight students and two teachers, making it easier for lessons to be individualised and focused on each student.

The teaching and learning process ensured that every student is given their own time and space to learn according to their own ability and not more than that.

In addition to specialised classes and top-notch teachers, special needs students are also given allowances of RM150 a month, which adds up to RM1,800 every year for each student.

“One hundred per cent of their food is sponsored while they are in school and they can even go back home from their hostels every week.

“To go to school, they only need to bring personal belongings, other than that, the ministry has been gracious enough to sponsor,” he said.


Read more @

Being Visually Impaired No Obstacle To Success – STPM High Achiever

Friday, May 19th, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, May 18 (Bernama) — “Being visually impaired will not withhold me from achieving success,” said Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia (STPM) high achiever A. Mahavithya, 22.

The student of Kolej Sri Putra, Banting, Perak persevered despite being blind in both eyes to achieve a CGPA of 2.9 in the recent STPM examination, making her one of the country’s disabled high achievers.

“I was the only one back in school who was blind, therefore, I had to use the braille system to study.

“Slowly, but surely I made it. I dedicated myself to my studies and was determined to do well just like the rest of my classmates.”

Mahavithya, who lives with her sister’s in-laws after having lost her parents at a very young age, is grateful to her immediate family who raised her despite not being one of the own and providing her with education.

The petite young lady said she had sent her application to several public universities to pursue a degree in teaching and was waiting for a placement.

“I plan to pursue a degree in teaching and hope to become a teacher, I love the Malay language and would like to become a BM (Bahasa Melayu) teacher,” she added.

Another high achiever, P.Kunasegaran, 18 who scored 10As in the recent Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination said the key to do well in the examinations is through the art of balancing.

“In order to excel, you have to know how to balance your studies and extra curricular activities. Days leading to the SPM examinations, I decided to focus more on revision and less on curricular activities,” said Kunasegaran from SMK Tinggi St.David, Melaka.

“Nevertheless, I managed to do well. The other thing, is to take it easy and do not stress much over exams. With the right kind of revision, anything is possible.”


Read more @

Teachers trained to coach disabled students

Saturday, April 8th, 2017
Teachers learn random baton passing at a course to coach disabled=

Teachers learn random baton passing at a course to coach disabled pupils to compete in running, jumping and throwing events in the state.

CHAN Bih Yee is a deaf education Mathematics teacher in SMK Tunku Ampuan Durah, Seremban.

Since she is not a qualified sports coach, she wanted to learn about para athletics training for her disabled students.

Together with 64 participants, she attended the Basic Para Athletics Technical-Coaching Course at Institut Pendidikan Guru (IPG) Kampus Raja Melewar earlier last month.

“I have been teaching students who are in Forms One to Five.

“By attending this course, I will be able to train my students aged 15 to 19 on the correct way to run, jump and do throwing events.

“In addition, I also learned how to measure their performances correctly so as to gauge how they are doing in the field,” said Chan.

The course was jointly organised by the Negri Sembilan Para Athletics Association (POPNS) with the cooperation of the Special Education Unit of the Negri Sembilan Education Department, and IPG Kampus Raja Melewar.

The aim of the course is to equip serving and retired teachers as well as teacher trainees with the skills to identify, teach and coach disabled pupils to compete in running, jumping and throwing events in the state.

The course was conducted by national athletics instructors K. Yogasvaren and S. Anbarassuu.

Participants learned the fundamentals and techniques of running, throwing, jumping, event rules, as well as pointers on how to warm up and cool down during training.

Read more @

Special Education Courses To Enable Teachers Teach Children With Special Needs – Kamalanathan

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, April 1 (Bernama) — The Education Ministry intends to offer additional special education courses to school teachers to enable them to teach students with special needs.

Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan said the move was an alternative to the existing practice of prospective teachers taking the course at teacher education institutes.

“What is happening in some schools today is we place teachers who are not experts in special education to teach children with learning issues.

“So, if physical education or music teachers are interested to add special education as an option, we (ministry) will offer them the course,” he said.

He said this to reporters after launching the ‘National Conference on Autism and Inclusion’ here Saturday.

Kamalanathan said the ministry would study the proposal and hold discussions with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on the best approach to working this out.

He said the ministry was willing to conduct the course for teachers who are interested during the school holidays and the teachers would continue to teach at the same school.

With this approach he hoped teachers who have been trained with the skills to teach special education would be able to teach children with special needs along with other normal students in the same classroom.


Read more @

Better Education Can Illuminate The World Of The Blind

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) — When he was in school, Silatul Rahim Dahman dreamt of being a scientist or astronomer someday. He knew it would be a daunting task for him to realise his ambition as a bout of high fever had left him blind since the age of six.

He did not allow his disability to stand in his way as he was a diligent student at Kolej Sultan Abdul Hamid in Alor Setar, Kedah, where he studied.

However, he had to bid goodbye to his dreams in Form Three as he was forced to drop mathematics and science, simply due to the lack of textbooks in Braille.

Not one to wallow in self-pity, Silatul Rahim went on to complete his secondary school education and made good with a couple of opportunities that came his way that allowed him to obtain a diploma in Assistive Technology from Overbrook School for the Blind in Philadelphia in the United States in 1989, and a diploma in Access Technology from the Carroll Center for the Blind in Boston in 2007.

Today, Silatul Rahim, 49, is chief executive officer of the Malaysian Foundation for the Blind (MFB).

“As a student, I was very keen on studying in the science stream but was forced to switch to arts. Of course, I was disappointed,” he said.

He said currently, there was still a lack of textbooks for the blind for critical subjects like science and maths due to the shortage of experts who could convert the conventional texts into Braille.

“It’s not easy to do the Braille version of maths as a lot formulae, figures and calculations are involved. We need really good experts to do this,” he added.

According to Silatul Rahim, the difficulty in securing reading materials and workbooks, especially for subjects like science and mathematics, in Braille has resulted in many students not being to pursue their higher studies in the fields concerned.

Over 50,000 visually handicapped people are registered with the Social Welfare Department but only a handful of them are said to be self-reliant.

Silatul Rahim is lucky he has a good job and can fend for himself. Those without educational qualifications or skills have no choice but to resort to begging, selling packets of tissue or busking in public places to eke out a living.

Deserve Equal Opportunities:

For many years, local associations and organisations taking care of the welfare of the blind have been demanding that special education students be accorded the same opportunities as mainstream school students, knowing fully well that education is the right agent to transform people with disabilities into human capital.

In line with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s commitment in 2000 to achieve the Education For All goals by 2015, the disabled community also deserves to be given opportunities to realise their full potential as they too can contribute to the nation’s development.

It has been almost 60 years since this nation attained independence, but they are are still struggling for better educational facilities and resources which, if made available to them, can propel them to the same level as their able-bodied peers.

“It’s not like as if they are incapable of competing with normal students,” remarked Malaysian Muslim Association for the Blind vice president Zamzuri Gani.

“In fact, in the 2015 SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) exam, two blind students scored 10As. This shows that they can do well if given the appropriate space and opportunities.”

Acknowledging that the number of blind students accepted into public and private institutions of higher learning has been on the rise, Zamzuri said most of them pursued their tertiary education in the arts, Islamic studies, economics, law and other fields.

“However, very few blind students join critical fields like science and mathematics. It’s not that they lack the capability, but there’s a dire shortage of facilities and resources to meet their needs,” he said.

Not Enough Braille Textbooks:

The issue of insufficient textbooks in Braille at the special schools for the blind is a long-standing one, and the authorities have still not found a solution for it.

According to Zamzuri, there were still no textbooks for some subjects like Bahasa Arab and Islamic Studies that were taught at secondary schools.

“Apart from that, we also face problems of Braille textbooks that are damaged or have gone missing… it’s difficult to replace these books because of the high cost involved,” he said.

To overcome the shortage of textbooks in Braille, many special schools for the blind have opted for the cheaper audio learning aids. But the audio system has its share of constraints as it is only suitable for the teaching of subjects like Bahasa Malaysia, English and history that do not use much graphics.


by Kurniawati Kamarudin
Read more @