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Session 1 | Session 2 | Session 3 | Session 4 | Session 5 | Session 6

Introduction & Research Sharing Session 
Angela Fawcett

Emeritus Professor
DAS Research Consultant

Delayed Neural Commitment and Strengths in Dyslexia


How can dyslexia be both a strength and a weakness? There are a broad range of deficit theories of dyslexia, many of which are compatible with each other.  Our latest theory of procedural learning deficit and delayed neural commitment in dyslexia provides a sound explanatory framework for the deficits in dyslexia. However, only these two theories and our automaticity deficit theory can account for the known strengths.  Learning is based on two systems, procedural (rule based sequences) and declarative (facts and knowledge). The procedural learning deficit suggests strengths lie in declarative learning in dyslexia, with the procedural and declarative systems conspiring and competing, and the declarative system leading.  Delayed neural commitment reflects the failure to automatize skills, which means that the sequence of neurons normally dedicated to a specific task is not developed and encapsulated.  This allows greater breadth and flexibility of thinking – the ability to see the ‘big picture’ that has been associated with dyslexia. In this talk, the basis of those strengths and the advantages of bi-lingualism will be discussed.

June Siew

Head
DAS Academy

Blessed by Dyslexia: The Educator's Role in Developing the Potential


For many successful dyslexics, dyslexia had once forced them to a corner; they had no choice but to scramble, adapt and come up with some kind of strategy that allowed them to keep up with everyone. The end is clear; they ended up developing valuable skills which might have otherwise been unutilised. These skills and resourcefulness had allowed them to compensate for their weaknesses. They would not have been who they are without dyslexia.

The challenge for educators is to teach in such a way that helps students to be aware of their learning weaknesses and to provide guidance and inspiration as they search for strategies that can compensate their weaknesses. As educators, these are some questions we need to ask ourselves as educators: How can we teach to encourage ownership of learning? How do we teach to evoke problem solving initiative? How can we teach to encourage buy-in from students?

Drawing upon the Universal Design for Learning and executive function research, this session will provide educators with a framework of instruction that can address the questions above. Most importantly, these principles of instruction can nurture in students a sense of ownership, adaptability and a spirit of resourcefulness, all of which can help them develop compensatory skills and enable them to say that they have been blessed by their dyslexia.

Geetha Shantha Ram

Director
MOE-aided DAS Literacy Programme & Staff Professional Development
Dyslexia Association of Singapore
Moving Forward with Dyslexia Support in Singapore

The International Dyslexia Association (IDA), British Dyslexia Association (BDA) and Dyslexia Association of Singapore report that 10% of a population has dyslexia, of which 4% have severe dyslexia requiring specialised intervention. Figures provided by MOE show that in 2013 there were 6063 students with dyslexia in schools, a 83% increase from the 2009 figure of 3320 (cited in Landulfo, Chandy & Wong 2015). Given the rising numbers of children impacted by dyslexia, a critical look into the provision for people with dyslexia in Singapore is timely to urge stakeholders to enhance systems to mirror current perspectives on dyslexia support.

Based on a 2015 study by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore (Landulfo, Chandy & Wong 2015), this presentation will examine the available support from three perspectives: [1] Identification, [2] Intervention, and [3] Resources. While Singapore has come a long way in the past decade, the study reveals through on literature reviews, comparisons with developed countries and discussions with various stakeholders that more can be done for people with dyslexia. The presentation will conclude with an elaboration on the recommendations provided in the study.

Reference:
Landulfo, C, Chandy, C & Wong, ZY 2015, ‘Expanding the Provision for People with Dyslexia in Singapore’, Asia Pacific Journal of Developmental Differences, 2 (1), pp.234-276.
Lois Lim
Assistant Director
Admissions
MOE-aided DAS Literacy Programme
Dyslexia Association of Singapore
Reading and spelling gains following one year of Orton-Gillinham intervention in Singaporean students with dyslexia
Despite the widespread use of Orton-Gillingham (OG) based approaches to dyslexia remediation, empirical support documenting its effectiveness is lacking. Recently, Chia and Houghton demonstrated the effectiveness of the OG approach for remediation of dyslexia in Singapore. As a conceptual replication and extension of that research, we report results of 39 students with dyslexia aged between six and 14 years enrolled in an OG intervention programme over a period of one year. Analyses of variance showed that students significantly improved in standardised tests of reading and spelling with moderate effect sizes (Cohen's d = 0.52–0.58).

Additionally, an inverse relationship was found between students' ages when they began intervention and gains made during the intervention. Results thus indicate the effectiveness of an OG approach in remediating literacy difficulties in students with dyslexia and, taken together with previous studies, further suggest the importance of early identification and intervention.

Session 1: Early Identification and Intervention/Self Esteem
Time: 11:30am to 1:00pm
Venue: Event Hall 1 & 2, Lecture Hall

Session 1: Early Identification and Intervention/Self Esteem
Albert Lee

Senior Educational Therapist
Dyslexia Association of Singapore

Self Evaluations of Children with Specific Learning Difficulties


This presentation is based on a study initiated in 2014 that was jointly lead by National Council for Social Services (NCSS) and the DAS Academy. It arised from a meeting organised by NCSS comprising of the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS), MCYC Community Services Society, Care Corner Singapore and Students Care Service (SCS) to propose recommendations to support the socio-emotional needs of students with specific learning difficulties (LD). Children receiving therapy from the four Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWO) were chosen to be involved in this study to provide evidence for service evaluation.

Children with LD face significant hurdles with learning compared to their normally achieving peers. While the difficulties of LD children manifest mainly in poor academic performance and learning, they potentially also have co-occurring socio-emotional difficulties. In this study, we compared self-perception and self-efficacy of LD children with their normally achieving peers. In addition, we administered a behavioural screening questionnaire to determine whether children with LD displayed more behavioural issues. Besides the LD children that were recruited from the four VWOs that provided specialist remediation for LD, normally achieving students were also recruited from various schools in Singapore as control group.

Findings showed that students with LD rated themselves as having more conduct problems compared to their normally-achieving peers. In addition, in contrast to existing works, students with LD had elevated levels of self-perception in General Intellectual Ability, Reading and Spelling compared to their normally achieving peers. Therefore, we argue that identifying children with LD and providing them with learning support through specialist remediation may result in a secondary benefit to socio-emotional domains. Moving forward, a specialised service that provides behavioural support for children with conduct problems will also be piloted by NCSS and a VWO to evaluate its viability.

Pushpaa Arumugam

Assistant Director
SES Enrichment Programmes
Dyslexia Association of Singapore

and

Muzdalifah Hamzah

Educational Therapist
Dyslexia Association of Singapore
Dyslexia and Drama in Education

This presentations is about how Drama can be a powerful tool to develop language skills such as reading, writing, speaking and listening and also how it can enhance the social-emotional development of a student with specific learning differences. By and large, Drama Arts can be an effective means of developing talents and self-confidence, which in turn can lead to a more positive self-concept particularly for anyone with specific learning differences. Incorporating drama activities in classroom for students with specific learning differences encourages affective aspects of literacy and offers multiple opportunities for meaningful communication, social interaction, discussion and feedback. Students participate in both guided and self-directed activities that will engage them kinaesthetically and cognitively. We look at the barriers to learning and the suggested support strategies we can use in drama classes for successful learning.
Wong Kah Lai

Preschool Programme Manager
Dyslexia Association of Singapore
Helping kindergarten children at risk of dyslexia achieve school readiness in Singapore: Is the length of intervention related to outcomes?

Dyslexia describes a different kind of mind, sometimes gifted and productive, that learns differently. The age of intervention for dyslexic children is critical.

According to research studies, if a dyslexic child is identified and given effective teaching before age 7, he/she may improve to the point where there is little disadvantage. After age 7, a sharp fall in effectiveness of teaching intervention is noted. After 9 years old, the effects of intervention seems to stabilize rather than remedy the relative deficit in reading skill. After 11 years old, it takes four times as much teaching to produce the same degree of progress as could have been achieved before age 7. In essence, every child matters. Let us “catch them before they fall” and offer them strategies to learning literacy leading to school readiness.

This research seek to share the results of it bursary students’ progress through a comparison of pre-and-post assessmentsâ€"examining alphabet and phonogram knowledge, learned sight words, reading and spellingâ€"after they had received 20-80 hours remediation. (Programme allows for year round enrolment at any given point of time) We hope these findings will interest and be of relevance to parents, early childhood educators, reading specialists, early intervention service providers, and anyone interested in working with young children leading to further action research and/or study, better home-school support and perhaps more services made available and dyslexia friendly.

Yang Wen-si

Fellow,
Register of Educational Therapists Asia (RETA)

Member,
International Society on Early Intervention (ISEI)
Do Nursery Rhymes Benefit Children with Learning Disabilities? What Studies Show
When you read a nursery rhyme to your little one, you open up a world of wonder. The nursery rhymes are becoming increasingly recognized by professionals whom seeking insight into diverse developmental domains of young children. Even though this is a significant dimension from the point of view of the professionals, there is little literature addressing how to use nursery rhymes to help young children with learning disabilities. This paper represents an approach of using nursery rhymes to promote the development of young children with learning disabilities. This approach includes a detailed description of specific early stimulation activities to build on professional’s knowledge of the nursery rhymes with an emphasis on exploring what kinds of intervention opportunities related to these rhymes, such as shared reading, storytelling, and chanting. In the end of this conference paper, we put together a collection of nursery rhymes aimed especially to discuss the potential in fostering learning and development.


Session 2: Reading Comprehension
Time: 11:30am to 1:00pm
Venue: Event Hall 1 & 2, Lecture Hall

Session 2:  Reading Comprehension 
John Everatt

Professor of Education
University of Canterbury
New Zealand

and

Amir Sadeghi

Underlying skills related to reading comprehension weaknesses among English language learners


Reading skills are clearly important in educational attainment. Many researchers have proposed models of reading processes which focus on how reading is acquired. However, there is relatively less research when it comes to reading difficulties among those who learn English as a second/additional language. The current research investigated the potential underlying cognitive-linguistic skills related to word-level and understanding-level processes on reading comprehension weaknesses among English language learners (ELLs) at high school levels in Iran. This research contrasted the performance of average comprehenders (N=70) with those with poor levels of performance in text reading comprehension scores (N=23) to identify underlying cognitive-linguistic weaknesses associated with text comprehension problems. Three measures of reading comprehension (one involving passage reading and question answering, another involving passage completion (Cloze procedure), and the last one involving sentence completion) were used in parallel to identify reading comprehension proficiency. Poor comprehenders were considered as those who perform within the bottom 25% of the cohort in those measures. The performance of the selected groups on measures of phonological, morphological, orthographic processing, vocabulary and comprehension skills (referential and inferential skills) was contrasted. Results showed that poor ELL comprehenders are significantly different from those who performed at average expected levels in all areas tested except orthographic skills measured by matching words and orthographic patterns; the tasks which may require letter knowledge. Findings will be presented to discuss the underlying cognitive-linguistic skills involved in reading comprehension weaknesses in various areas such as phonological, morphological, and vocabulary skills. Implications for theoretical perspectives on reading comprehension weaknesses and classroom practices will be discussed.

Key words: Reading comprehension weakness, English language learners

Patricia Mui Hoon Ng

M ED (Special Education)
BA (Business & Management)
DIP PE
Part-time lecturer and educator
Reading Comprehension for Children with Hyperlexia - A Scaffolding Method
Children with language disorders can exhibit symptoms of hyperlexia, a superior level of word recognition relative to other linguistic or cognitive functioning. Language disorders have been described by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association as deficits in comprehension and/or use of spoken, written and/or other symbol systems [1]. This study examines the effectiveness of an intervention known as the Scaffolding Interrogative Method (SIM) [2], [3] that mitigates the causal factors by leveraging on the learning style of such children. Measures of comprehension test scores using a repeated baseline-intervention method found higher scores during intervention as compared to the baseline conditions. A second dependent measure using standardized instruments for pre-/post-test found an improvement in the comprehension age with no corresponding increase in reading age for all the subjects. Moreover, the gap between the two variables was reduced to a level below the operationalized criteria of hyperlexia for them. Hence, the SIM is recommended as an intervention for use in withdrawal sessions in school and home tutoring as it can be applied on a one-to-one or small group instruction basis. Keywords: Hyperlexia, children, reading comprehension, scaffolding schemata.
Boon Hock Lim 

Special Education Consultant
Malacca, Malaysia

Reading Comprehension Problems in Children with Dyslexia and Hyperlexia: Are They The Same?

Both groups of children with dyslexia and hyperlexia have problems in their reading comprehension. However, are these problems in reading comprehension the same or different for the two groups? This paper is an attempt to answer this question, and then goes on to differentiate between dyslexia and hyperlexia through their respective operating definitions provided by the International Dyslexia Association and the American Hyperlexia Association. The presentation also looks briefly at the reading process, and suggests some strategies for helping children with dyslexia and hyperlexia cope with problems in reading comprehension.

Dr Tan Wah Pheow

Lecturer,
Diploma in Psychology Studies
Temasek Polytechnic
Effects of Font Properties on Reading Performance of Individuals with Dyslexia

In recent years, there have been some studies that investigated on how manipulating properties of the printed font (e.g., font type, font size, inter-letter spacing) could facilitate the reading performance of both normal readers and individuals with dyslexia. The presentation will focus on two research projects in this area that were conducted by Temasek Polytechnic in collaboration with Dyslexia Association of Singapore. Furthermore, a brief summary of the current research in this area will be provided, with an elaboration on how the findings from these research can inform educators working with, or parents of children with dyslexia on facilitating and improving their reading.

 

Session 3: Non-English Research*
Time: 11:30am to 1:00pm
Venue: Event Hall 1 & 2, Lecture Hall

*Please note that sessions will be conducted in English, and may include occasional usage of another language to illustrate a point.


Session 3:  Non-English Research 
Akira Uno

College of Human Sciences
University of Tsukuba
Japan

and

Lhannie Estrera

Investigation of Cognitive Factors Affecting the English and Filipino Reading and Spelling Literacy of Third-grade Filipino Children


There have been numerous studies regarding reading and spelling, particularly on the English language. There is also an increasing number of studies investigating bilinguals; however, there is scarce literature regarding the Filipino language on reading and spelling. The official language of the Philippines is English and Filipino. Filipino refers to the many (around 100 or more) different languages spoken all over the country, including Tagalog. Tagalog is the most commonly used language in Manila. Both English and Filipino are learned during the elementary schoolyears of children. Both languages use the same alphabet writing system (Aa, Bb, Cc); however the two languages differ in terms of grapheme-phoneme conversion (GPC). English is considered a highly opaque language because of its inconsistent GPC contrasting to Tagalog which is considered more transparent due to its regular GPC. As the title states, the purpose of this study is to investigate the possible cognitive factors affecting the English and Filipino reading and spelling of third-grade Filipino children. The following tests were administered to 102 Filipino third-grade children studying in Manila: paragraph, word and non-word reading, and word spelling test for measurement of their reading and spelling literacy; Raven Coloured Progressive Matrices for general intelligence; Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure Test for visual perception and memory; Rapid Automatized Naming test for automatization; receptive vocabulary test for vocabulary knowledge; and tests for phonological processing like non-word repetition, phoneme deletion and repetition in reverse-order syllable test. Multiple regression analyses revealed that there were similarities in English and Filipino reading in which both automatization and phonological processing played a significant role; however, there were difference in the weight of contribution of these factors. In addition, receptive vocabulary played a bigger role in English reading and spelling than in Filipino reading and spelling, although phonological processing played a significant role in both languages.
Kristiantini Dewi Soegondo

Pediatrician
Chairwoman
Dyslexia Association of Indonesia

Purboyo Solek

and

Muhamad Risqui Utama

Screening and Intervention for dyslexia in Indonesia - Developing the Lexipal Program
The difficulties Indonesia has experienced are reflected in the latest PISA figures, which show that this country is 61st out of the 65 participating countries for reading. The situation is more complex for those 10-20% of children who suffer from dyslexics who are currently poorly served in general, despite the excellent work of the Dyslexia Association of Indonesia. Researches showed that intervention has been shown to effective when teacher or computer led. Until now, there have been no instrument available in Bahasa Indonesia.


LexiPal is a ‘learn-to read’ application especially designed for dyslexic children in Bahasa Indonesia. This application is developed for dyslexic children in the age of 5 to 7 years or pre-school of first year of elementary school. LexiPal has been designed to be use not solely by children, but with guidance from parents, teachers, therapists, an others. A key feature is that the program may be used with minimal initial training an is therefore suitable for all levels of adult guidance.


LexiPal has 4 main key features: (1). Children database, (2). Scheduling, (3). Learning Media, (4). Historical Data. This feature is designed based on three of the most important approaches in teaching dyslexic children, namely : (1). Multi sensory method, (2). The use of different media to teach one material, (3). Prioritize motivation rather than punishment. Based on the above considerations, learning media features are divided into three different types, namely : learning media, practice media and evaluation media. In addition to having different types, the learning media is also divided into twelve different categories, with all those categories stating the ability that has to be mastered by the children between the ages o 5-7 years which are : shapes and patterns; similarities,differences and comparison; short term memory; object association; direction perception; activity sequence, understanding place; time concepts; functional skills; letters; syllables and words; simple sentences.
Nandini Chatterjee Singh

Professor
National Brain Research Centre
Manesar, India
DALI: Dyslexia Assessment for Languages of India

Dyslexia is categorized as a learning disability wherein school children do not achieve adequate reading skills. It has a worldwide incidence of 5-20% and incidence of dyslexia in India is believed to be 10-15%. It is critical that dyslexia be assessed in all the languages in which a child is provided instruction. Given the education scenario in India wherein children are provided literacy instruction in at least two languages and often three, it is critical that dyslexia be assessed in all of them. In particular it is necessary that the child be assessed in the native language.


Given the absence of appropriate standardized screening and assessment tools in Indian languages, the diagnosis of dyslexia in India so far has been incomplete or even unavailable. To address this lacuna, the Dyslexia Assessment for Languages of India (DALI) was developed. DALI contains screening tools for school teachers and assessment tools in Indian Languages to identify dyslexia. DALI provides standardised, validated tests in three Indian languages (Hindi, Marathi and Kannada) and English learnt in as a second language. It has been indigenously developed, standardized and validated across a large population of 4840 children. This talk will discuss the different tests available in DALI, its standardization and validation.

Akira Uno

College of Human Sciences
University of Tsukuba
Japan

and

Fumie Shibuya
Adaptation of Double-Deficity Hypothesis on reading and spelling difficulty in Japanese speaking children - Study on 3rd grade children

Wolf and Bowers (1999) proposed the Double Deficit Hypothesis (DDH) of developmental dyslexia. In addition to phonological deficit, they put forwards naming speed deficit as second core factor of developmental dyslexia. And they reported the double deficit group (DD) showing both phonological and naming speed deficit, manifested most severe reading difficulty. In this study, we investigated the adaptation of DDH to Japanese children. The participants were 94 children in Grade 3. All children came from local public school and they speak Japanese as first language. To compare with foreign study, we used same criterion in which used in same as Sunseth & Bowers (2002) of the English area and Wimmer et al (2000) of the German area for the same third graders. As a result, in both criterion, Japanese speaking children can be classified into three subgroups based on the DDH. In contrast, according to the severity by the criterion of Sunseth & Bowers (2002), only one out of seven tasks showed the most severe to compare with other single deficit groups and by criterion of Wimmer et al (2000), all tasks showed no-significant difference among groups. DD group was not the most severe group in all each tasks. Our findings suggest that the DDH holds partly in Japanese 3rd grade children.

On the other hand, we found “the others” group which was difficult to classify in the frame of the DDH and this group has reading difficulty too. There was a lot of discussion which cognitive function contribute to Dyslexia. Especially in Japan, some researchers reported that visual cognition affected to reading difficulty. In our study, a score of visual cognition task of “the others group” showed approaching significantly lower than no-deficit group when we analyzed by the criterion of Sunseth & Bowers. Thus, the others group children who drop out from DDH framework, surely exist and they have reading difficulty, and they might relate with weak visual cognition in Japanese.

 

Session 4: Reading, Spelling and Writing Difficulties / Learning Strategies
Time: 2:00pm to 3:30pm
Venue: Event Hall 1 & 2, Lecture Hall


Session 4: Reading, Spelling and Writing Difficulties / Learning Strategies 
Dr Ong Puay Hoon

Associate Professor
Dyslexia Association of Sarawak
Malaysia

Use of the ubiquitous bottle caps to enhance phonological processing among struggling and poor readers


A strong consensus that has emerged from various research is that a central difficulty in dyslexia is the processing of speech sounds, known as phonological awareness or processing (for example, Shaywirz (1998); Snow et al. (1998)). Phonological awareness or processing involves the ability to hear sounds that make up words in spoken language. Students with strong phonological processing skills are likely to become good readers, but students with weak phonological skills will likely become poor readers (Blachman, 1997). Blachman also showed that more than 90 percent of students with significant reading problems have a core deficit in their ability to process phonological information.
Phonological processing is an umbrella term that includes six developmental levels - word awareness, rhyme awareness, syllable awareness, rhyme production, phoneme awareness, and phoneme manipulation (Lane, 2007).
Nur Alia Bte Salim

Senior Educational Therapist
Dyslexia Association of Singapore
Teacher's Perceptions on the Effectiveness of a Process Genre Approach on the Writing Skills of Students with Dyslexia

The Process Genre Approach to teaching writing was developed by Badger and White (2000). The approach advocates teaching students writing by taking students through stages of writing while emphasizing on the language features and context of the writing. A research study was conducted to explore teachers' perceptions on the effectiveness of the process genre approach on the writing skills of students with dyslexia.'  This research study provides an overview of five Singaporean teachers' perceptions of the process genre writing approach as a method to improve the writing skills of students diagnosed with dyslexia. The researchers conducted a case study with five teachers from the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS). Teachers were selected as study participants based on purposeful sampling. Data collection for the participants included a pre-interview questionnaire and a semi-structured interview. All five teachers reported using elements of the process genre writing approach during instruction. Themes representing the teachers' view of the process genre approach to teaching writing emerged from the research including accessibility to resources, idea generation, structured instruction, familiarity, and ease of use emerged from the study. The results are discussed and suggestions are provided for further research.

Authors: Nur Alia Salim, Zachary M. Walker and Kara Rosenblatt

Sharanjeet Kaur

Professor
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
Malaysia
Reading performance using ChromaGen lens II in dyslexic children with low and high visual stress levels

Purpose
To determine reading performance using ChromaGen lens II in dyslexic children with low and high visual stress levels.

Methods
A total of 25 children (mean age = 8.88 ± 1.509 years) with dyslexia were recruited. All subjects were free from ocular and systemic diseases and never had any intervention. The children completed a computerised visual stress test using ViSS, initially without and then followed by, with ChromaGen lens II. The ChromaGen lens II were selected by the children based on their preference when reading a text. The visual stress test comprised of visually non-stressful items and visually stressful items. Based on the search times of stressful visual items, the children were categorised into 2 groups; that is low visual stress (LVS) and high visual stress (HVS) groups. Then reading performance (reading time and reading rate) was assessed for the two groups without and with ChromaGen lens II.

Results
There was a significant difference (t = -2.437, p=0.022) in search times for non-stressful and stressful visual items without ChromaGen lens II. However, with ChromaGen lens II, the search times reduced to become insignificant between the two. Without ChromaGen lens II, 62% (n=16) of children had LVS and 38% (n=9) had HVS whereas with ChromaGen lens II, 69% (n=18) of children had LVS and 31% (n=7) had HVS. There was no statistically significant difference in search times with and without the ChromaGen lens II within the LVS and HVS groups. Similarly, there was no statistically significant difference in reading time and reading rate with and without ChromaGen lens II within LVS and HVS.

Conclusions
Using ChromaGen lens II helps to reduce search time of stressful visual items in dyslexic children. However, ChromaGen lens II does not help improve reading performance for dyslexic children with either low and high visual stress levels.

Keywords: Dyslexia, ChromaGen Lens II, Visual Stress

Christina Chia

Specialist Teacher

Associate Fellow,
Register of Educational Therapists Asia (RETA)
The potential of working memory training on students with dyslexia

Many of us must have experienced the need to repeat a topic over and over again to our dyslexic students, and the result is that they still can’t remember. Why is this so? The problem could lie with their working memory. Working memory is a vital cognitive system that helps us retain and manipulate information to support a wide variety of complex cognitive activities. It can also have important consequences on academic and daily life performance. Working memory capacity is limited; but there has been a lot of buzz about the ability to increase working memory capacity through computerised working memory training. Though controversial, some studies have yielded positive outcomes, not just on improved cognitive functioning, but even enhanced academic performance. Like other individuals with specific learning differences, dyslexic individuals also struggle in their ability to learn and remember; thus results and learnings from these studies can have a significant impact on their lives. However, very few published empirical studies have examined the impact of working memory training on individuals with dyslexia. Could dyslexic individuals experience similar potential benefits that working memory training seems to offer? My study takes a closer look at the effects of computerised working memory training on dyslexic students, and the implications moving forward.

References:
Chein, J.M. and Morrison, A.B.(2010). Expanding the mind’s workspace: Training and transfer effects with a complex working memory span task. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 17(2), p193-199

Dahlin, K. I. E. (2011). Effects of working memory training on reading in children with special needs. Reading and Writing. 2011, 24, p479â€"491.

Jarrold, C. and Towse, J.N. (2006). Individual differences in working memory. Neuroscience, 139, p 39-50.

Jeffries, S. & Everatt, J. (2004). Working memory: Its role in dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties. Dyslexia, 10, p196-214.

 

Session 5: Dyslexia and Related Difficulties
Time: 2:00pm to 3:30pm
Venue: Event Hall 1 & 2, Lecture Hall


Session 5: Dyslexia and Related Difficulties 
Kwok Fuyu

Doctoral Student
Nanyang Technological University
Singapore

Understanding the Brain Network of Dyslexia during Verbal Working Memory: A Singapore Study 


Understanding the Brain Network of Dyslexia during Verbal Working Memory: A Singapore Study

Kwok, F.Y.1, Beth O'Brien2, Tay, K.H.S.3, Chang, W.T.4 & Chen, S.H.A.1,5

1 Division of Psychology, Nanyang Technological University 

2 National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University

3 Paediatric Neurology and Developmental Peadiatrics, National University Hospital, National University of Singapore

4 Magnetic Resonance Imaging Group, Biomedical Sciences Institutes, Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC), A*STAR

5 Centre for Research and Development in Learning (CRADLE), Nanyang Technological University

Dyslexia is a reading disability that affects 5-17% of the population (Shaywitz and Shaywitz, 2001). Extensive research has been conducted examining the neurological differences of the processing of alphabetical languages in individuals with dyslexia—three meta-analyses have been published thus far. However, little is known about the functional network of bilingual children. Singapore stands out as a unique population for the research of dyslexia as it is a multilingual society. Children are typically bilingual with English being their first language and either Malay, Tamil or Chinese as their second language or mother tongue language. Therefore the current study seeks to understand the neural network of dyslexia during verbal working memory in Singaporean children.

Using non-invasive brain imaging techniques via the MRI scanner, the present study examined the brain networks of children with and without dyslexia between the ages of 6-10 years old.  In particular, the study sought to understand how verbal working memory—a core deficit of dyslexia, may be affected in children with dyslexia and how that is related to their reading ability. Through comparing typically developing children to those with dyslexia, we are able to study the brain networks involved in verbal working memory that is often utilized in reading. Additionally, the study is specifically interested in understanding the role of the cerebellum during verbal working memory in children with dyslexia. The cerebellum has been thought to be only involved in movement and coordination in the past. However, in the recent two decades, researchers have been finding that the cerebellum is also involved in higher brain functions, like verbal working memory, language, music, decision making and timing (E, Chen, Ho & Desmond, 2012) which do not necessarily have an explicit motor function. With previous studies documenting structural abnormalities in the cerebellum, the present study seeks to uncover the functional difference. 

Through the findings of the study, the study hopes to better understand the neural difference during verbal working memory in children with dyslexia and their typically developing peers in hopes of innovating strategies to further refine current interventions for dyslexia.

Hani Zohra Muhamad

Educational Advisor
Dyslexia Association of Singapore
Dyslexia with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Case Study
This article is a case study of a child with dyslexia and ADHD who was provided with behavioural strategies to cope in class which proved to be effective. Children who have dyslexia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often face great challenges in school as their academic abilities are usually impeded by these two learning disorders. While dyslexia affects their literacy abilities, ADHD often affects their ability to pay attention and exercise executive functions. Children with ADHD are often found to be hyperactive, inattentive or a combination of both. On the other hand, these children often have normal to above average intelligence and can do very well academically if they are equipped with coping mechanisms. Physicians may suggest that children with ADHD be medically treated in order to curb their behaviour and perform better in school. However, these medications may contribute to undesirable side effects and this is the reason why many parents may disagree with having their children with ADHD under any form of medication.
Priscillia Shen

Director
Undergraduate Programmes
DAS Academy
Dyslexia and Chinese Language in Singapore

Dyslexia is believed to be a universal language learning disability that varies across different languages, depending on the diversity of the writing systems. Though studies on dyslexia have been mostly associated with learning difficulty in English language, there have been major achievements in the research on dyslexia in Chinese character reading but there is still no widely accepted theory or intervention for dyslexia in Chinese language. Singapore has adopted the bilingual education policy because of socio-political-economical-cultural reasons, which has put many Chinese children in a very different and unique environment in learning at least two languages of different orthographies and sound-symbol mapping systems, as compared to other Chinese children of countries where Chinese language is the first language, such as China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Because of the difference in both English and Chinese writing systems, there is an interest to find out whether visual perceptual skills other than phonological deficits would affect Chinese language acquisition. Furthermore, there is also an interest to explore the differences in Chinese literacy skills with the presence of dyslexia in Singapore’s context, through the use of a battery of Chinese literacy tests which could lead to future validation of assessment and implications for intervention for dyslexic children. While Chinese literacy skills and visual perceptual skills were found to be weaker in the presence of dyslexia, visual memory was found to be an underlying visual perceptual skill besides phonological processing skill and auditory memory in Chinese language processing. A grounded theory derived through the voices of Singapore Chinese children has also illustrated their perception of Chinese language and how varied level of orthographic and morphological awareness and transference of values from role models affect their understanding of and dealing with the language.
Ho Shuet Lian

Senior Speech and Language Therapist
Dyslexia Association of Singapore
Speech and Language Therapy helps Dyslexic Children achieve

Several studies (McArthur, Hogben, Edwards, Heath, & Mengler, 2000; Catts, Adlof, Hogan, & Weismer, 2005; Snowling, Gallagher & Frith, 2003; Stothard, Snowling, Bishop, Chipchase, & Kaplan, 1998) have found evidence to explain the association between language impairment and reading difficulties. Therefore, Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) recognises the importance of Speech and Language Therapy for the diagnosis and intervention of mainstream students with dyslexia in Singapore and started providing speech-language therapy service in 2009. This study aimed to find out the distinctive speech-language needs of students at DAS as well as to assess the efficacy of speech-language therapy in helping these students to achieve. 35 students between 7 and 16 years old were randomly selected for progress evaluation. The students attended both MOE-Aided literacy programme (MAP) and speech-language therapy at DAS. 80% of the students were males and the rest were females. They attended one-hour weekly individual speech-language therapy for at least two consecutive terms in 2015. The findings show that most of the DAS students who attend speech-language therapy had expressive language impairment and the least common deficit that they had was pragmatic deficits. The overall results achieved by these students suggest that they had benefited from attending at least two consecutive terms of speech-language therapy at DAS. Phonological awareness had the highest success rate of 90% and pragmatics had the lowest success rate of 70%. Survey result suggests that speech-language therapy helped to boost the students’ self-esteem as nearly half of the participants rated their self-esteem as ‘higher’ post intervention.

 

Session 6: Intervention
Time: 2:00pm to 3:30pm
Venue: Event Hall 1 & 2, Lecture Hall

Session 6: Intervention 
Eleonora Palmieri

Director
Psychological and Pedagogical Victor Centre
Macerata, Italy

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


In this talk we present an intervention approach geared towards improving thefluency 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. 
Nicole Chua

Senior Educational Therapist
Dyslexia Association of Singapore
The Impact of Morphological Intervention on spelling and Self Esteem in Adolescents with Dyslexia

One of the key issues in dyslexia research is how can we remediate dyslexic children who do not respond to phonics intervention? Chomsky (1970) described English language as a morphophonemic language. There are a number of English words that are non-phonemic and cannot be represented by letter sound correspondence. This study aims to establish whether or not morphology should be integrated with phonics instruction to provide an effective intervention to dyslexic teenagers, thereby increasing their self-esteem. This case study of a group of three 15-year-old dyslexic learners who showed little response to the current phonics based instruction based on the Orton-Gillingham teaching approach. The researcher developed specially designed morphological instruction adapted from Bowers (2010), into the established phonics intervention, to provide a compensatory strategy (Carlisle, 1987) for the atypical group of learners. The group of learners showed an increase in confidence and accuracy when attempting spelling tasks. All students’ responses indicated that morphological instruction was their preferred way to spell as they remembered word parts visually more easily and they can rely on phonics (sounds) should they fail to identify any word part. This case study suggests that morphology should be incorporated earlier at secondary level as it helps them to see the relevance of the intervention program to their academic work in school., and provides deeper understanding of language and its structure.
Edmen Leong

English Exam Skills Programme Manager
Dyslexia Association of Singapore
Improving English exam skills for dyslexics in primary education in Singapore
Performing in primary education is particularly important in Singapore. Parents and teachers have high expectations for their children and students, especially when they sit for their Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE). This could be due to how 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 poorly in several components of the paper. A team of curriculum developers with the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) thus 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. The EESP team strongly believes that some of these challenging components can be taught, and that primary school students with dyslexia can acquire necessary skills that can be translated into the PSLE paper. The team has thus designed and developed a set of curriculum to address some of these components of the PSLE paper. Careful considerations were taken into account in the development of the EESP ensuring that the curriculum adheres to the Orton Gillingham (OG) principles, that there is sufficient empirical evidence supporting the usefulness of concepts and skills taught and that students were able to transfer concepts and skills learned in their examination papers. This presentation reports the continuous evaluation of results of students in the EESP revealing that students have been progressing and improving significantly.
Rebecca Yeo

Senior Educational Therapist
Dyslexia Association of Singapore
Evaluating the progress of dyslexic children on a small-group maths intervention programme

Many students with dyslexia experience difficulty with mathematics. Besides affecting the ability to read and decode, dyslexia also negatively influence other executive functions such as working memory, sequencing, and the ability to plan. These skills are needed to solve word problems efficiently and effectively. In Singapore, success in mathematics is highly valued, and doing well in the subject opens doors to better prospects later on in life. To support primary school students with dyslexia who experience difficulties with the subject, a math intervention was designed with their learning needs in mind. In designing the programme, the designers ensured that the pedagogy and syllabus were kept in line with the national curriculum in Singapore. This programme focuses on building students' mathematical ability, specifically in conceptual understanding, procedural fluency and ability to apply concepts to word problems using a dyslexia-friendly approach. 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. The students' performance were measured using an in-house formal assessment tool that spanned a range of ten topics: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, time, fractions, geometry, decimals, percentage, and ratio. Results show statistically significant improvement in all topics targeted across all levels except at P2. These results are discussed in relation to the increasing complexity of school maths over the primary school years.