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          1.    Editorial Comment
          2.    Behavioural interventions and developmental learning difficulties: Factors influencing effectiveness in a Kuwaiti school context

Abir Al-Sharhan1* and John Everatt2

1 Centre for Child Evaluation and Teaching, Kuwait
2 University of Canterbury, New Zealand


This paper presents findings investigating the effectiveness of behavioural interventions for children with developmental learning difficulties/disabilities (such as dyslexia) under different educational conditions. The primary focus of the behavioural intervention work was a self-management technique involving positive self-statements. This was compared with another behavioural intervention that involved a relaxation technique. The usefulness of the behavioural interventions for teaching English spellings to Arabic children with learning disabilities (LD) was compared using multisensory learning versus simple copying. These LD-based educational contexts were contrasted with a mainstream group of children who underwent normal teaching conditions but also practiced the two behavioural interventions. Findings indicated positive effects from pre to post intervention spelling scores in comparison to baseline groups of children (one LD and one non-LD) who did not undergo any intervention. The findings argue for the potential usefulness of behavioural interventions with children with educational learning problems. However, for the positive self-statements intervention, positive effects were evident only when combined with multisensory learning, suggesting that behavioural interventions need to be assessed for the conditions under which they will be effective versus those where they may not. An understanding of such moderating factors should improve recommendations and procedures for optimal intervention effectiveness.

Keywords: Arabic speaking/culture students; Learning Disabilities; behavioural interventions; English spelling learning; educational moderators

          3.    The use of ubiquitous bottle caps as concrete aids to learn to read and spell for struggling readers

Ong Puay Hoon1*, Ong Puay Tee2, Ong Puay Liu3, Carol Persad4,
Wallace Lee Boon Liang5 and Alban @ William John Lisen6

1 Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak 
2 Faculty of Business, Malaysia Multimedia University, Melaka
3 Institute of Ethnic Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor
4 Centre for Development of Language & Literacy, University of Michigan
5 Dyslexia Association of Sarawak, Kuching, Sarawak
6 Laksamana Primary School, Kuching, Sarawak


Humans were never born to read (Wolf, 2008), and yet the ability to read has become a critical skill to lead a functional life in the modern society. Children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities often struggle to learn to read due to the differences in brain neurology or function (Shaywitz, 2005). There have been various evidences that children with learning difficulties learn best through multisensory activities (Logsdon, 2014).

This paper describes the use of ubiquitous bottle caps as concrete learning aids to read and spell CVC (C – consonant, V – vowel) words in English by struggling readers attending remedial education in their primary schools. The project took place during a summer camp, in Malaysia and progress was followed up 2 months after the camp had finished. Significant improvements were found and these improvements were maintained after the intervention finished. The impact of the use of this learning tool in a literacy camp with 13 struggling readers will be discussed.

          4.    Evaluating the progress of dyslexic children on a small-group maths intervention programme

Rebecca Yeo1*, Tim Bunn1, Aishah Abdullah1, Siti Aisha Bte Shukri1 and Anaberta Oehlers-Jaen1

1 Dyslexia Association of Singapore


Many students with dyslexia have areas of difficulty that can affect their maths performance. These include memory deficits, problems with sequencing, and number reversals. Moreover, their reading deficits and poor comprehension may impact on their ability to solve word problems, a key area in Singaporean maths and in many other countries. Maths is particularly important in Singapore, because success in maths dictates whether a child completes the last 2 years of primary education at Foundation or Standard level. In this article, we present an analysis of the progress of 39 dyslexic children aged 7-11, enrolled with the Dyslexia Association of Singapore, who had completed 6 months support for maths. Support is based on principles used in literacy with a strong emphasis on building concepts to allow word problems to be completed successfully. Pre and post intervention measures of children's maths performance across a full range of curriculum topics were taken. Results show statistically significant improvement in all topics targeted, including addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, time, fractions, geometry, decimals, percentage, and ratio. These results are discussed in relation to the increasing complexity of school maths over the primary phase. 

          5.    Improving the fluidity of whole word reading with a dynamic co-ordinated movement approach

Piero Crispiani1* and Eleonora Palmieri2

University Macerata, Pedagogist, Scientific Director of Intalian Dyslexia Center, 

Psychologist - Pedagogist, Researcher, Itard Specialist , Director of Psychological and Pedagogical Victor Center Macerata.


In this article we present an intervention approach geared towards improving the fluency of reading and processing in children with dyslexia and dyspraxia. This is an important topic, identified by the National Reading Panel 2000 as key to improving reading comprehension. The approach, the Crispiani method developed in Italy is derived from theories of cerebellar deficit and procedural learning, and adopts a dynamic approach based on a combination of whole word reading with rapid co-ordinated movement. Following a literature review, an intensive case study of clinical practice with a 10 -year old girl with dyspraxia and dyslexia shows marked improvement in initiating and completing tasks. Finally, an experimental study with 33 children show an average improvement of 30% in reading fluidity following a 3 months intervention designed to improve processing speed and confidence in a clinical setting. This improvement was highly statistically significant. The implications for a whole child approach to intervention are discussed.

          6.    Improving English exam skills for dyslexics in primary education in Singapore

Edmen Leong1

1 Dyslexia Association of Singapore, Singapore


Many children with dyslexia show problems with English language skills and grammar, and struggle to obtain results which reflect their potential. Problems with decoding, fluency and comprehension can all impact on progress, and this has particular impact in Singapore, where good performance in primary education has particular significance. Parents and teachers have high expectations for their children and students, especially when they sit for their Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE). The results of the PSLE can determine a child's educational pathway following their primary school education. Students with dyslexia struggle with the English PSLE subject, and score badly in several components of the paper. In response to this need, curriculum developers with the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) have developed an English Exam Skills Programme (EESP) to help Dyslexic learners in the DAS overcome their difficulties in the PSLE English Paper. The EESP focuses on teaching skills and strategies that directly helps students in the Grammar, Editing, Synthesis and Transformation, and Comprehension components of the PSLE paper. In this paper, we present a continuous evaluation of the results of students on the EESP over a period of 4 terms, with group sizes ranging from 29 to 46. This evaluation revealed that students made consistent progress and significant improvements in their skills, particularly in the Editing and Synthesis and Transformation components of the programme. Implications for wider applications of this approach are discussed.

          7.    The Dyslexia Experience: Difference, Disclosure, Labelling, Discrimination and Stigma

Neil Alexander-Passe 1*

1 Head of Learning Support, Mill Hill School, London


This paper reports on a qualitative/quantitative adult dyslexic study of 22 dyslexics who presently or have in the past suffered from a depressive disorder, and 7 control dyslexic adults. It compares depressive to non-depressive dyslexics, with gender and academic success variables. Interpretive Phenomenology Analysis was used to investigate dyslexia and stigma.

Many perceived dyslexia as positive and gave them unique skills, but made them feel different. This difference was perceived to come from having to work harder than their non-dyslexic peers to achieve in life, as dyslexia affected many aspects of their daily life. Interestingly most would not seek a cure if it was offered - suggesting they perceived their dyslexia to be integral to whom they were, and losing their dyslexia would be as great as losing a limb.

Evidence suggested that dyslexics experience discrimination due to their disability, whether they perceive it as a disability or not. They felt there was a lack of public domain information on dyslexia and its effects, as many of their peers perceived it being negative. Recent legislation in the US and the UK aims to protect dyslexics in the workplace, however to gain protection they need to disclose their hidden disability to the world, making them vulnerable.

Many dyslexics have survived the last twenty, thirty or more years in the workplace and school without their difficulties being highlighted, one participant noted that they had felt successful in hiding for so long, with many feeling unhappy about disclosing their difficulties as they may fear this would firstly go on their record and secondly it might have a negative effect on promotion and career prospects.

Many felt dyslexia was a disability when they were children, as school was seen as an inflexible environment with no escape from reading and writing, along with unfair comparison with age appropriate peers - ‘I’m only disabled by my dyslexia when you put me into a classroom’ (Natasha). It was felt as an adult there was more flexibility to choose professions that play to a dyslexic’s strength and use supportive technology (e.g. computers and spell-checkers). However, a minority withdrew from a society when they felt ill-equipped to function effectively within it.

Stigma due to dyslexia was highlighted as many camouflaged their difficulties at work, attributing their difficulties to quirkiness (positive) rather than being disabled (negative). Implications for the Asia Pacific area are discussed.

Keywords: Dyslexia, Difference, Disclosure, Discrimination, Labelling, Stigma

          8.    Expanding the Provision for People with Dyslexia in Singapore

Carolina Landulfo1*, Crystal Chandy1, and Zeng Yi Wong1

1 Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore


Studies show that dyslexia affects about 10% of the population. While the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) have provided more support for students with dyslexia in recent years, this remains inadequate. Based on literature review and comparison with other developed countries, as well as discussions with local stakeholders, including the MOE, DAS, teachers, parents, and subject matter experts, this paper investigates the gaps in dyslexia provision in Singapore and finds that the roots causes are in three main areas: service volume (under-identification of students with dyslexia), service nature (limited scope of dyslexia intervention), and service support (insufficient resources to support the provision of dyslexia services). We recommend a broad expansion of the current provision to improve the identification, intervention, and support for people with dyslexia, through the following key measures: harmonising intervention efforts between the MOE and DAS, expanding professional learning pathways for mainstream teachers and Allied Educators (Learning and Behavioural Support), investigating the feasibility of a specialist school for students with severe dyslexia, investing in assistive technology, and increasing the reach of public awareness and anti-bullying campaigns.

Keywords: dyslexia, Singapore, early intervention, identification, pre-school, post-secondary school, teacher training, specialist school, technology, coordination.