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UnITE SpLD 2017 - Presentations


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STREAM 1: IDENTIFICATION

The Seeds of Literacy: The Earliest Indicators of Reading Ability

Denis Burnham, Western Sydney University, Australia
Marina Kalashnikova, Western Sydney University, Australia
Usha Goswami, Western Sydney University, Australia

Reading and writing skills are essential for achieving successful communication in today's society. However, approximately 10% of children who are affected by dyslexia or other problems with reading have significant difficulty developing these skills. Dyslexia is a neurodevelopmental disorder, and is characterised by specific deficits in reading and spelling skills independent of an individual's educational level or general intelligence. Research to date has helped to define genetic, neural, and cognitive characteristics of dyslexia but, over decades of work, its aetiology continues to be debated. Here, we introduce the Seeds of Literacy project in which we are investigating auditory and linguistic skills that could be determinants of early literacy. The ability to perceive and produce speech is acquired without instruction very early in life, with infants becoming expert listeners of their language even before their first birthday. This is in stark contrast to reading, which is usually only acquired through formal instruction and usually after the age of 5 or 6 years. Accordingly, dyslexia can only be detected and diagnosed after a child has started to exhibit visible differences in reading and reading-related skills. Therefore, research seeking to identify precursors of dyslexia by investigating infants' basic auditory and linguistic abilities is important, for it may well lead to much earlier detection of dyslexia and possible intervention prior to the onset of reading instruction. Identifying such early predictors is the primary focus of the Seeds of Literacy project. The Seeds of Literacy project consists of a longitudinal study, in which we are following 5-month-old infants who are not, or are at familial risk for developing dyslexia (by virtue of having one parent with dyslexia) right through until they are 5 years of age and begin to learn to read. In this presentation, preliminary findings of this study will be presented focusing on the measures of early auditory and speech perception and early linguistic input collected when the infants were between 5 and 24 months of age. We anticipate that our research will help to determine the seeds of literacy resulting in: a better understanding of typical and atypical reading acquisition, early detection of dyslexia, and intervention for children with reading difficulties.

 

Understanding Executive Dysfunction in Children with Reading Difficulties: Why Performance-Based and Ecologically Valid Measures Both Matter

June Siew, DAS Academy

The application of executive function to everyday tasks and situations is important for daily functioning. While there is a general agreement that children with reading difficulties demonstrate impairments in a variety of executive functions, majority of the studies have relied on exclusively on performance-based measures to investigate executive functions. Research using ecologically valid measures of executive function is lacking. This session provides an overview of current executive function research with children with dyslexia, identifies the gaps in the field, concludes using Frith's (1999) causal modelling framework as a context for understanding executive functions and will arrive at a unified understanding of executive functions in children with dyslexia.

 

Trends in Assessment

Liu Yimei, Dyslexia Association of Singapore

DAS psychologists assess hundreds of children in a year for the purpose of ascertaining dyslexia. In this session, we will share some profiles and trends that had been identified through the assessments we conduct.

 

Failing to remember to remember: Prospective memory problems in dyslexia

James Smith-Spark, London South Bank University, United Kingdom

Problems with memory are well documented in dyslexia. However, the literature has been confined mainly to exploring the short-term and working memory systems. This paper will consider the impact of dyslexia on an important, yet largely neglected, memory system, namely prospective memory or memory for delayed intentions. Prospective memory is called upon frequently on a daily basis, whenever we need to remember to do something at a later point in time, such as remembering to put a book in our bag before we leave the house or to pass a message on to a friend that we are going to meet later in the day. Despite there being some older literature suggesting problems with planning and organisation, there has been very little research on the prospective memory abilities of people with dyslexia, despite its vital role in supporting successful everyday life across personal, social, educational, and workplace settings. This paper will describe a recent programme of research which studied prospective memory in adults with dyslexia using a variety of methodological approaches, ranging from laboratory measures to naturalistic tasks to self-report questionnaires. The results of these studies indicated that the prospective memory abilities of adults with dyslexia were worse than IQ-matched adults without dyslexia. Less accurate prospective memory performance was found both inside and outside the laboratory setting. Several key findings emerged. Firstly, the performance of adults with dyslexia was lower when self-generated, internally-generated strategies to remember were required (such as mentally reminding oneself of the task over the intervening period between forming an intention and acting upon it). Secondly, the majority of dyslexia-related problems emerged when cues to remembering were time-based (where the individual must remember to perform a task at a specific time in the future, such as in 30 minutes’ time or at 4pm tomorrow) rather than being event-based (where objects in the environment serve as cues to remind the individual to carry out the task in question). Thirdly, novel, performing one-off prospective memory tasks was more problematic for adults with dyslexia than carrying out those that were habitual in nature. Fourthly, dyslexia-related difficulties were more likely when the delay between forming the intention and acting upon it was longer-term rather than shorter-term. Dyslexia-related difficulties with executive functioning, retrospective memory, and time perception are raised as potential explanations of the lower prospective memory abilities of people with dyslexia. Prospective memory problems need to be considered when supporting individuals with dyslexia, particularly in educational and workplace settings where tasks needed to be remembered to be performed and deadlines have to be met. Whilst the vast majority of the research on prospective memory in dyslexia to date has explored its impact in adults, it is important also to consider these problems when building support plans for children with dyslexia, setting in place effective strategies that will maximise life chances and, thus, quality of life in adulthood.

 

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STREAM 2: EARLY INTERVENTION

Early screening and intervention: preventing failure

Angela Fawcett, Dyslexia Association of Singapore

If we can prevent failure for young children at school entry, then we can provide a sound platform for future learning, and reduce the impact on children’s self esteem. In this talk, I shall demonstrate how we can build early readiness for learning, with a series of studies on screening and intervention for children aged 5-7, examining the critical aspects that need to be in place to ensure effective learning for this age group, including recent thinking on executive function. This approach has been used very successfully with over 1000 children in a series of studies in Wales. Finally, I shall introduce a new app designed for greater efficiency and fun in the early assessment process that has potential for use in Singapore and beyond.

 

Evidence-based Vocabulary Instruction for Early School-Aged Children

Ho Shuet Lian, Dyslexia Association of Singapore

There has recently been much controversy about the dyslexia concept (see “The Dyslexia Debate”, Elliott & Grigorenko) and discussion about the role of labels (British Psychological Society Conference, 2016). Parents in International Schools in the SE Asia region are often wary of using labels for their children because of fear of exclusion by schools. My aim is to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of labeling specific learning difficulties/disabilities, based on evidence about how different groups understand the labels. I will present a brief overview from a research perspective on the 5 SpLDs, and outline some of the criticisms of labeling recently advanced, then share the results of some survey data. Finally I hope to also share and seek discussion feedback on metaphors teachers have found helpful with students with SpLDs and their peers when supporting them in school.

 

The positive impact of early literacy intervention

Wong Kah Lai, Dyslexia Association of Singapore

Early intervention matters. Early literacy intervention at preschool contributes positively to primary school literacy learning/achievement. Comparing literacy achievements of children with and without early literacy intervention at P1.

 

Indonesian Dyslexia Early Identification System

Kristiantini Dewi, Dyslexia Association of Indonesia

Dyslexia mainly causes difficulties in reading, writing, spelling and executive function. It remains life time and unintervened cases might potentially influence not only in academic field but also in self-esteem and social-emotional development. Fortunately, good long-term outcome might be reached if it can be identified and intervened at early age (pre school-aged children).

Indonesia is an archipelago-based big country, but still the ratio number between dyslexia experts to its population is not sufficient. Therefore, a valid yet simple, and friendly user of dyslexia identification system is mandatory. Proposed early identification system provides cost efficient and proceeding flexibility as it may be accessed via website. Respondents were pre school aged children, 56 boys, 44 girls. The parent had to fill in the questionaire consists of 21 questions. The parameters of screening were the child’s and parents’ background, academic ability (oral language, written language, social laguage, math ability) and non academic ability (organization, sequence, direction, working memory). Written language parameters were only asked for children 6 years old and above.


Analysis of main screening sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy
No School Resp TP FP TN FN Sensitivity Specificity Accuracy

1 Fitrah Insan Elementary School 46 27 2 11 6 0.818 0.846 83%

2 Indigrow Child Development Center 6 6 0 0 0 1 - 100%

3 Nilem Elementary School 53 29 0 15 9 0.763 1 83%

Total 105 62 2 26 15 0.805 0.929 84%


The area under ROC curve (AUC) was 0.867 which indicated that the screening test had good accuracy to identify whether a child has risk of dyslexia or not.



 

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STREAM 3: BEYOND BASIC LITERACY

Exploring the classroom practices of the English Exam Skills Programme for Singaporean primary school children

Edmen Leong, Dyslexia Association of Singapore
Siti Asjamiah, Dyslexia Association of Singapore

The English Exam Skills Programme (EESP) was established in 2013 by a group of Educational Therapists in the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) with the goal of helping a their primary school students with dyslexia achieve in their school and national examinations. Careful considerations were taken into account in the development of the EESP ensuring that the curriculum adheres to the Orton Gillingham principles, and that students were able to transfer concepts and skills learnt in their examination papers. The EESP curriculum developers used curriculum design processes adapted from Nation & Macalister (2010), and Richards (2001) to as a guideline to ensure that the curriculum designed and administered is in line with the goals of the EESP. Leong (2015) conducted a recent research to evaluate the progress of students in the EESP. In his study, pre-tests and post-tests were conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the programme. A simple comparison of a synthesis and transformation component of the pre-test and post-test was also presented in his paper to illustrate the progress of students after the duration of the programme. Results from Leong's (2015) study concluded that the EESP was effective in addressing the English examination needs of primary school learners with dyslexia. While results from Leong's (2015) study demonstrated the effectiveness of the programme, they were not able to reflect on actual incidences and practices that happen in the EESP classroom. Thus, results from Leong (2015) were not able to explicitly explain how or why students were performing better after the EESP. This study thus aims to further observe, evaluate and explore classroom teaching processes in the EESP classroom, with the intention evaluating and possibility improving on the current EESP classroom practices, in addition to evaluating the curriculum. This study also aims to confirm the quantitative results obtained by Leong (2015) with pre-tests and post-tests results of a new group of students using a more robust quasi-experimental design model with the use of a control group.

 

The Effectiveness of a Chinese Intervention Programme for Dyslexics in helping struggling learners

Kong Yun Rui, Dyslexia Association of Singapore

Learners with dyslexia has shown significant improvement in their reading, spelling and morphological awareness following intervention at the DAS. This study explores if the intervention programme at DAS is also effective in supporting struggling learners in Chinese and if the intervention is more effective as compared to other programmes.

 

The DAS Advanced Maths Curriculum: Tackling Maths Word Problems

Aishah Abdullah Albel, Dyslexia Association of Singapore
Roslan Saad, Dyslexia Association of Singapore


A. This presentation informs on: a) the rationale, design and development of the Advanced Maths curriculum, b) the results from the pilot study of P5 Standard students, c) sharing of 3 case studies of P6 Standard students

 

Metacognition and Transitioning Post Secondary Students

Nor Ashraf Samsudin, Dyslexia Association of Singapore
Farhana Muliadi, Dyslexia Association of Singapore


Individuals with dyslexia who have acquired adequate literacy skills may continue to face issues in organisation, planning, time management, and socialcommunication. These executive function skills are especially critical when people with dyslexia move through major transitions in life. This presentation willlook at metacognition and how it relates to the development of executive functioning skills to help students become independent learners as they manage the transitions they encounter in post secondary education.

 

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STREAM 4: IDENTIFICATION

Reliability and Validity of a Chinese Literacy Assessment for school learners in Singapore.

Kong Yun Rui, Dyslexia Association of Singapore

The CLA was tested with 149 students from ages 9 to 11 to determine its reliability and validity in determining a child's Chinese language ability and the ability to differentiate a child with specific learning differences. The findings from the testing phase and analysis can also further inform on instructional materials and guidelines.

 

Investigation of cognitive and environmental factors affecting spelling of third-grade Filipino children

Lhannie Estrera, Tsukuba University, Japan
Akira Uno, Tsukuba University, Japan

The current study investigated the underlying cognitive processes that would predict Filipino and English spelling of third-grade Filipino children. Phonological awareness, naming speed, vocabulary size, verbal short-term memory, visual processing and spelling abilities of 98 Filipino children were tested. Results of multiple regression analyses revealed similarities between Filipino and English spelling in which phoneme awareness predicted spelling in both languages. However, differences were found in which in addition to phoneme awareness, vocabulary size predicted irregular word spelling, and verbal short-term memory and naming speed predicted regular word spelling. Additional findings were found when word reading was included in the analyses. In addition, questionnaires regarding home literacy and background were given to the parents to investigate the environmental factors affecting the literacy of the children. Findings in the study have implications in assessing Filipino children with reading difficulties.

 

Perspectives of Adolescents with Dyslexia: An Insight through Images

Sharen Ong, Dyslexia Association of Singapore

The research reported here aimed to understand the perspectives of 15 adolescents with dyslexia receiving support in Singapore. It outlines how they perceive their personal learning differences and how they think others view their learning difficulties. The methods used in this study included photography and semi-structured individual interviews. Photography was chosen as it has been shown to be a viable visual method that elicits genuine responses from participants. This study aims to provide an insight not only to individuals with learning differences, but also to the significant others in their lives (e.g., educators, parents and siblings). Another important aspect of this study was the focus on self-awareness, self-disclosure and self-advocacy that after diagnosis. The findings indicated that the use of photography in interviews was well accepted and preferred. Moreover, individuals who demonstrated self-awareness seemed to be more successful in their studies. Future studies are encouraged to explore these areas further

 

The Effectiveness of using Drama as a Tool to build Social-Emotional Development of Children with Dyslexia in Singapore

Muzdalifah Hamzah, Dyslexia Association of Singapore

Literacy is not the only struggle that children with dyslexia face every day. For many years, researchers had gathered how children with dyslexia have poor level of social-emotional development due to personal experiences with failures, other's perceptions of their literacy abilities and not receiving proper emotional support from adults around them. This study  explores the efficacy of a speech and drama programme in developing social-emotional literacy of children with dyslexia. The participants were students aged 7-11years old, enrolled in the speech and drama programme in Dyslexia Association of Singapore for the whole year of 2016. The Southampton Emotional Literacy Scales (SELS) of the relevant age group was used for this study. Pre and Post programme questionnaires were collected from students, parents and drama teachers. Through this study and the data presented, hopefully teachers, educators, education policy makers and parents are able to see there is more than just acquiring literacy (reading, spelling and writing) skills and achieving good grades but also, there is a need to develop our children's social-emotional literacy so that they can adapt and be ready to meet the current demands of the society.

 

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STREAM 5: TECHNOLOGY AND RESOURCES

Good Children’s Literature Matter: Digital Reading as an Early Intervention Support for Children with Learning Disabilities

Yang Wen-Si, Singapore

Children’s literature has been affected by digitization as there is a dramatic rise in household ownership of the smart phones, tables, and e-book readers. Given the crucial role that children’s literature has played in early intervention, this paper offers a thorough review of the use of digital children’s literature in early intervention, and detailed information about the effectiveness, convenience, and practicality of providing award-winning children’s literature in a media-rich and interactive digital format (i.e. electronic books and book apps) for children with learning disabilities. Referencing the latest research in the field, this paper provides book titles along with evidence-based effective activities for nurturing and enhancing the development of children with learning disabilities. Early intervention strategies for supporting those children through shared reading, reading aloud, selecting appropriate children’s literature, and generating a literature-rich environment have also been expanded. Furthermore, suggestions for parents are included as well as in-depth intervention plans for several specific books. In response to concerns regarding a lack of empirical research of digital reading, this paper also goes some way towards addressing the need for more research in this area. This paper not only benefits professional in fields of special education, also is a great resource for parents and families of children with learning disabilities.

 

Neuroeducation and its impact on learning for children with special needs using clay as a medium

Chashna Sachan Kumar

Neuroeducation is almost a novel field of study in Asia, the future of education is no longer in rote learning. We are looking to explore the impact of neuroeducation in main stream systems and special needs system. This presentation looks to specifically address the impact of neuroeducation has had on learning for children with special needs using clay as a medium. Neuroeducation has its tenets in neurobiology and psychology. It explains how engaging more than one of our senses while processing information strengthens existing and creates new neural networks. Creating pottery is a hands-on experience that engages emotions and stimulates creative expression. When such an experience is paired with learning or acquiring new concepts, associations are made with seemingly unrelated pockets of information which stimulates abstract thinking, problem solving and creativity. Why we choose clay: a) Highest tactile cognition factor b) Object permanence c) Longevity The three factors mentioned are the fundamental criteria we have instilled for a medium to be in line with the principles of Neuroeducation. Research has shown that clay is one of the few platforms available today, that is of greatest sensorial value. By way of understanding, mild learning disabilities or a spectrum of cognitive impairment would be used to describe children with special needs. This could range from simple to complex food allergies or terminal illness, delays in physical or cognitive development that catch up quickly or remain entrenched; occasional panic attacks or serious psychiatric problems. Children with learning disabilities like dyslexia and Central Auditory Processing Disorder do face challenges with schoolwork regardless of their intellectual abilities. They require specialized learning strategies to meet their potential and avoid self-esteem problems and behavioral difficulties. Parents of learning-challenged kids need to be persistent both in working with their reluctant learners and with the schools that must provide the help these children need. A child's problems with anxiety or depression can sneak up on parents; problems with attachment may smack them right in the face. Sensorial engagement has been an essential part of learning for children with special needs. Understanding how the brain learns and utilizing these principles to deliver content created a positive impact on the way children with special needs learn. We have created a platform using clay as a medium to engage specials needs children. Infusing the arts and sciences together enhances the strength of neural networks and connections in the brain. This, in turn, serves as a catalyst for creativity and innovation and helps with a person's self-confidence, self-esteem, perception and awareness. Tapping into this region of the brain at a tender age would expose the child to many learning experiences. The medium is also great for special needs children to regulate their emotions when they take to the medium. What we have observed is that we have had great success with children with special needs. Our work with renowned special needs institutions in Singapore has validated the applicability of Neuroeducation for these children and we have seen them flourish week on week. We have had remarkable results in terms of having children who are primarily non-verbal say "fun" to teachers saying "fully engaged" with our platform.p>

 

Learning All (Articulation, Language And Literacy) Through Echo Poems For Young Children

Patricia Mui Hoon Ng, Singapore

The purpose of this paper is to introduce the concept of echo poems, and how they can be used to help young children learn ALL - articulation, language and literacy. The concept of each term, articulation, language and literacy is elaborated, and with that, suggestions on how echo poems can be used for the teaching of the respective conceptual area. In order to help educators to better support children in their learning, some of the challenges that young children may have in these conceptual areas are discussed. In this way, it is hoped that children can become more motivated to learn and have better outcomes in the learning of articulation, language and literacy.

 

Online Specialist Tutoring

Anaberta Oehlers-Jaen, Dyslexia Association of Singapore

We were looking at providing support for students with Literacy Difficulties who may not have direct access to Specialist support due to geographical issues or ongoing in addition to their current direct support.

 

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STREAM 6: MULTILINGUALISM

Perceptual and Phonological Difficulties in Multilingual Children with Dyslexia: Evidence from Telugu native speakers

Suvarna Rekha Chinta, PhD Research Scholar
Prof. Bapi Raji
Prof. Bipin Indurkhya

Although developmental dyslexia (DD) is considered as genetic in origin, which leads to unexpected difficulties in reading and writing, but its nature and prevalence differ across languages. This difference gave rise to lots of debates about its universality and specificity. In addition, the prevalence estimate of dyslexia in different countries appears to be related to the shallowness of the orthography (Paulesu et al., 1996; Ziegler and Goswami., 2005). Moreover, research demonstrated that orthographic consistency plays a significant role in the manifestation of dyslexia, and in the case of consistent orthography the severity of reading difficulties are less prevalent (Cossu, 1999; Goswami et al., 1998; Goswami, 2012; Serrano & Defior, 2008; Vidyasagar and Pammer, 2010; Ziegler and Goswami, 2005). In addition phoneme deficit considered to be the causal factors for reading difficulties in dyslexia, and this hypothesis got the universal acceptance. However, Telugu is an alpha-syllabic/ akshara based language with one-to-one mapping between the grapheme and its constituent phoneme (orthographically consistent). Moreover, phoneme is not the smallest grain size (basic unit) of Telugu orthography nor the reading instructions are phoneme based (separating consonants from vowels), in that case how a phoneme deficit can underlies reading difficulties in Telugu? Thus we believe that the reading difficulties of Telugu native speakers who are dyslexic would be kind of perceptual in nature rather than phonological. Twenty-two dyslexic and twenty-two non-dyslexics recruited from an integrated school with informed consent. Both the groups were matched on the medium of instructions, chronological age (range of 9 -13 years), IQ, ADHD scores and language proficiency. We conducted a set of perceptual tests (visual, auditory, attentional), rapid automatized naming test and as well as phonological ability tests (phoneme: deletion, substitution, segmentation, spoonerism, and non-word reading tests) respectively. The results are found to be high significance between the groups on visual, auditory, attentional and RAN deficits. The speed as well as accuracy impairment observed only for spoonerism tasks, rest of the phonological tests scored above 80 percent. These results are assumed to be of perceptual deficit rather than phoneme deficit among Telugu native speakers with dyslexia. In addition, we found that, dyslexic children performed equally to the typical children on elimination, substitution and non-word tasks with attenuated speed. The better performance on these tasks could be explained in two ways: first multilingual background and second transparent orthographies (Makita, 1968). In line with these evidence, we predict that, the task requiring attention was difficult for dyslexics, as they cannot sustain the focus for a long time, due to dorsal stream dysfunction (Vidyasagar and Pammer, 2010). Other contributing factors could be: instructions in three languages education system and Indian curriculum, for instance much emphasis given to spellings, it's a kind of rote learning. This study concludes that phoneme awareness is intact in the dyslexic group showing the advantage being reading transparent language and as well as being multilingual.

 

Early assessment and intervention of specific literacy learning difficulties within multilingual learning contexts

John Everatt, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Specific learning difficulties need to be assessed at any age; however, early assessment has been shown to provide the best potential for intervention outcomes. Supporting a child at risk of literacy difficulties before prolonged periods of failure in reading and writing should avoid many of the negative consequences of poor acquisition on learning, motivation and self-esteem. Therefore, in projects within Arabia, South-East Asia and New Zealand, we are developing tools for early identification and intervention. These contexts are the focus of the work in order to include children from non-English, bilingual and English-as-an-additional-language backgrounds. The assessment measures and intervention procedures that are being developed are based on research from primarily English speaking contexts, but aim to take into account features of the children’s language backgrounds. Hence, the Arabic project targets early literacy development (and predictors of literacy) of pre-school and grade 1 children who speak Arabic as their first, dominant language, but who are also exposed to English as a foreign or second language. The work in South-East Asia involves literacy and language skills of pre-school and grade 1 children who are learning English and one other language in a bilingual education context. The work in New Zealand focuses on pre-school and grade 1 children who are learning within an English language education context but who also speak at least one other language in their home environment. The research is ongoing and this presentation will cover some of the background to the work as well as some of the its initial findings and future plans.p>

 

Assessing and Supporting English-Chinese Bilingual Learners with Dyslexia in Singapore

Priscillia Shen, DAS Academy, Singapore

Learners with dyslexia has shown significant improvement in their reading, spelling and morphological awareness following intervention at the DAS. This study explores if the intervention programme at DAS is also effective in supporting struggling learners in Chinese and if the intervention is more effective as compared to other programmes.

 

Reliability and Validity of a Chinese Literacy Assessment for school learners in Singapore

Dr Tan Ah Hong, Ministry of Education, Singapore
Kong Yun Rui, Dyslexia Association of Singapore

The CLA was tested with 149 students from ages 9 to 11 to determine its reliability and validity in determining a child's Chinese language ability and the ability to differentiate a child with specific learning differences. The findings from the testing phase and analysis can also further inform on instructional materials and guidelines.

 

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STREAM 7: READING, WRITING AND MOTOR SKILLS

Executive Dysfunction, Dyslexia and Treatment of Cross Patterns: Outcomes of a Research Study

Eleonora Palmieri, Psychological and Pedagogical Victor Centre Macerata, Italy
Piero Crispiani,  Macerata University, Italy

In this talk, we present the first controlled study of our approach, showing a significant impact on efficiency and fluency of reading in a group of 20 dyslexic children in comparison with controls. Reading and the activation of increased efficiency in cross system patterning from left to right, are an expression of the most extensive correlation between reading and motor skills, that constitute a functional conjunction of great importance. Our research, conducted over 10 years of observations, rehabilitative treatments and targeted experimental interventions, testifies to the effectiveness of Champion L.I.R.M. (Reading Intensive Speed Motor), a professional practice, forming part of the Cognitive Motor Training based on the Crispiani Method. We move from concrete repetition of sequences of movements to abstract and symbolic (reading from words in time to the rhythm). Through intensive practice based on the activation of cross patterns to enhance general executive functions, including procedural /sequential motor skills, we can improve the fluency and accuracy of reading and writing. The research has focused on an intensive and sequential activation of cross patterns of the lower and upper limbs, and in general praxic performance builds their “incipit” or readiness for rapid activation. We pay particular attention to four major vectors of Physio-Praxis-Vectors (namely Incipit, Fluidity, cross patterns, and rotary patterns), in intensive closed cycles of 2 or 3 days, for a total of 15 hours, working on constant and ecological rhythm. Through applying motor and coordinated sequences, we promote and activate processes, improving automatization of neural circuits and exchanges between the hemispheres. Improvement and functional gains are also extended to attention, general responsiveness, balance, and language.

 

Retained Primitive Reflexes, Dyslexia and the Development of Writing Skills in Primary Aged Pupils: From Assessment to Intervention

Mary Mountstephen, British Dyslexia Association, United Kingdom

This research project was been carried out over an 8 month period in 2016-2017. In addition to my dyslexia qualifications, I am qualified in the field of Neuro-Motor Immaturity, an approach that focuses on physical immaturities that can exert an impact on academic functioning and skills such as handwriting. These immaturities, according to experts in the field, may be due to retained primitive reflexes, such as the Asymmetric Tonic Neck Reflex and Palmar Reflexes, that affect postural control, eye-hand co-ordination, midline issues and inefficient pencil grasps. Move to Learn is an Australian programme that was devised to address these immaturities through a daily floor-based regime that inhibits the reflexes in a hierarchical sequence over a period of up to 1 school year. Other programmes exist internationally, but share many similarities.Move to Learn practitioners are often specialist teachers, occupational therapists or other professionals that integrate this approach into their practice. The exercises do not replace more specialist interventions, rather they act as a complementary, physical dimension of the learning process. Research in this field has indicated that increasing numbers of children are entering school with immature physical skills that may be related to greater reliance on technology and fewer opportunities for floor-based play, with changes in societal parenting practices. Move to Learn seeks to address this. In 2016, teachers from The Treehouse School in England attended a 1 day training course in the Move to Learn approach to learning differences. Treehouse is a rural primary school with fifteen children aged 5-11. The teachers expressed an interest in integrating the daily exercise programme into their curriculum and a small-scale study was devised. The purpose was to establish whether retained reflexes are linked to immaturities in handwriting and to look at the impact of an intervention programme in relation to defined criteria. Research Questions: Do those children who perform poorly on the fine and gross motor assessments show any of the common signs of dyslexia as identified by the British Dyslexia Association? Is there measurable improvement in performance in any of the children involved? How is this in line with current research and what are the implications for best classroom practice and interventions?

 

Structured Writing Instruction and Writing Checklist aid Learners with Dyslexia in their Narrative Writing: A Comparative Case Study

Serena Abdullah, Dyslexia Association of Singapore
Rosalyn Wee, Dyslexia Association of Singapore


Learners with dyslexia has shown significant improvement in their reading, spelling and morphological awareness following intervention at the DAS. This study explores if the intervention programme at DAS is also effective in supporting struggling learners in Chinese and if the intervention is more effective as compared to other programmes.

 

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STREAM 8: VISUAL STRATEGIES

Engaging learners with dyslexia through picture books

Tuty Elfira Abdul Razak, Dyslexia Association of Singapore

Learners with dyslexia struggle with reading and comprehension. Many literacy programmes that are developed to help students overcome dyslexia and its related learning difficulties focus largely on phonics instruction. This study is an attempt to elicit the impact of picture books on the comprehension, verbal expression and engagement in reading of students with dyslexia. Research on this study centered on observing a group of six students in Primary 4 and 5 as they demonstrated their comprehension through retelling skills, their verbal expression of thoughts and ideas and their engagement in reading using picture books. This study adapted the Philosophy for Children (P4C) approach developed by Matthew Lipman and his colleagues at the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children (IAPC). The P4C approach which places emphasis on questioning skills, engaging in meaningful dialogue and reasoning was incorporated into post-reading discussions facilitated by the literacy therapist. The main findings indicated that the use of picture books helped the students recall details and sequence of events in the books as seen in the way they referred to these aspects in the post-reading discussions. They were also able to infer and make connections based on their learned prior knowledge and personal experiences. This study shows that picture books can be an alternative teaching tool to enhance a dyslexic’s learning experience and that visual literacy can offer an instructional opportunity to be incorporated into the classroom. This study has shown that there is potential in using picture books as part of providing dyslexia literacy remediation such as the integration of text and images to promote comprehension and make meaningful associations, stimulating students to make connections to prior knowledge and regulating their interest and engagement towards a reading task. Contrary to what many educators and parents believe, picture books can be used as teaching tools beyond kindergarten or first and second grade emergent readers. Apart from teaching them to read using a single-model approach, dyslexia remediation therapists should explore using pictures to teach dyslexic students aspects of visual literacy such as how to see and examine what they are looking at in the layout and illustrations. Going beyond the literal meaning of the illustrations, it is important for students to be able to understand and grasp the many layers of subtle and non-literal meanings that could be associated with the pictures.p>

 

Neurological and Behavioral Research Validates Imagery-Language Connection to Dyslexia, Weak Reading Comprehension, and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Angelica Benson, Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes Del Mar, California, United States of America
Andy Russell, Lindamood-Bell Double Bay Learning Centre

Abstract New research suggests that the dual-coding of imagery and language is a critical factor in language comprehension and word reading. Imagery is a basic sensory-cognitive function connecting us to the language we hear and the print we read. There are two distinct types of imagery—symbol imagery and concept imagery—intrinsic to word-reading and reading comprehension. Neurological and behavioral research validates the imagery-language connection resulting in lasting effects on word attack, word recognition, comprehension and specific areas of brain function in students with dyslexia or ASD. Detailed Description Imagery is a primary factor in cognition, reading, and language comprehension. This presentation examines two types of imagery—symbol and concept. Many children and adults experience weakness in creating imagery which causes weakness in processing language and mathematics. Imagery-based, sensory-cognitive instruction is essential to addressing these weaknesses, especially for children diagnosed with dyslexia and autism spectrum disorders. Nanci Bell is the author of four instructional programmes based on thirty years of instructional experience and clinical and behavioral research. Her work is supported by Allan Paivio’s Dual Coding Theory (DCT), a general theory of cognition, and it is validated by recent neurological and behavioral research. Since 1986, nearly 35,000 individuals have received imagery-based instruction at Lindamood-Bell Learning Centres. Analyses have been conducted to measure significance, proficiency levels, and the magnitude of students’ learning gain on the component parts of reading. A consistent, repeated finding is that students with reading difficulties have shown significant improvements with imagery-based sensory-cognitive instruction. These improvements hold true for students diagnosed with dyslexia, ADHD, ASD, hyperlexia, and other learning difficulties (Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes, 2015). The effectiveness of these instructional programmes has been examined by researchers from a variety of educational institutions, including Georgetown University (Krafnik, et al, 2011). In this first of it’s kind study, imagery based reading intervention in dyslexic children resulted in gray matter volume changes in four areas of the brain as measured by fMRI, along with significant improvements in reading. In a second study led by Dr. Rajesh Kana, of the University of Alabama, imagery based reading intervention in children with ASD resulted in changing brain response patterns in children as measured by fMRI (Murdaugh, et al, 2015). This important finding demonstrates the plasticity of the brain in children with autism when receiving language comprehension remediation. He also noted that multiple indicators of change were found as a result of intervention, including behavioral data, neuropsychological scores, functional connectivity, and brain activation. Supported by Dual Coding Theory, key research findings and thirty years of instructional experience, this session shows that imagery is a primary sensory-cognitive power source that can be developed and brought to consciousness for reading independence in children previously diagnosed with dyslexia and autism spectrum disorder.

 

Alternative strategies for students who are unresponsive to phonics instruction

Bayanagari Malavika

Existing researches and observations by the DAS indicate that 30% or more students have a problem with phonetic strategies caused due to different brain wiring. Since phonics is currently the primary method of English language instruction, and most therapeutic interventions for dyslexics are based in phonics, this causes further negative impact on the already struggling readers .

The presentation provides an overview of the situation in a 4 I framework -information, identification, intervention, and intention, covering the aspects knowledge, skills and attitude.

Information covers existing theories and strategies, and those that were applied by the presenter over a period of 6 years when working with secondary school students having difficulties handling the mainstream curriculum.

In the aspect of identification, the presentation gives information on the signs that parents and educators can use to identify the student’s difficulty in the absence of a diagnosis; and how to understand the way the student learns. Additional problems such as attention deficit, memory problems and other processing issues are also taken into consideration.

Intervention strategies are discussed in terms of the nature of the problem faced by the student, and, alternate phonics and non – phonetic approaches to enable reading. These include psychological strategies, which support the intervention based on theories of body- mind connection. Using technology for intervention is also discussed.

Finally, intention exhorts parents and educators to come together to share knowledge and techniques and bring recognition to a hitherto silent aspect of reading difficulties.

 

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STREAM 9: PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

A comparative analysis of two mentoring approaches at DAS

Hani Zohra Muhamad, Dyslexia Association of Singapore
Sujatha Nair, Dyslexia Association of Singapore
Sumathi Krishna Kumar, Dyslexia Association of Singapore

Mentoring is significant in the life of any new teacher. A mentoring programme aims to provide new teachers with support in the practical aspect of teaching.

At Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS), formal mentoring takes place over a period of six months. New teachers are paired with experienced teachers who guide them on lesson planning and delivery, as well as classroom and student behavior management.

This study examines the strengths of two types of mentoring approaches currently adopted at the DAS – (a) mentoring concurrently when formal teaching begins and (b) mentoring after formal teaching begins.

These findings will inform of the preferred mentoring approach and help to identify specific challenges, benefits and the impact either of these approaches had on teachers’ performances.

 

RETA Case Study Presention

CASE MANAGEMENT - As a generic term, there is no single definition for case management. In our search for solutions for our learners, we've uncovered that case management discussions, when done right, result in the most satisfying and comprehensive support for clients, whose lives we aim to enrich and empower. With the benefit of a multidisciplinary team and their varied perspectives, we can plan, coordinate and review the care of an individual. And in through such discussions, educators and other professionals supporting these learners may also gain new perspectives on care and support. Do join us for the next case management meeting to find out more about how these discussions can help you and your learners.

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