Research Journal

APJDD Vol 10 No 2 (July 2023)

Editor Comment

Editor Comment –  Dr Geetha Shantha Ram


It is with great pride that we present this special issue of the Asia Pacific Journal of Developmental Differences (APJDD), commemorating a decade of publication under the auspices of the Dyslexia Association of Singapore. As we reach this remarkable milestone, we are delighted to witness the journal’s steady growth, its expanded scope to include a diverse range of developmental differences and its commitment to fostering advancements in both research and practice.

Since its inception, APJDD has been dedicated to addressing major issues related to learning disabilities and developmental differences, providing a platform for scholars, academics, and professionals from around the world to share their insights and findings. Over the years, we have evolved to embrace a broader spectrum of developmental differences, acknowledging the significance of co-morbidities and the need for a holistic approach to supporting individuals with diverse learning needs. This evolution is a direct reflection of the Dyslexia Association of Singapore’s revised mission. Key to our journal’s success is the invaluable contribution of our esteemed scientific board of reviewers and the international editorial board, comprising eminent academics and professionals. Their expertise and dedication have allowed us to maintain the highest standards of ethics and professionalism in the field, ensuring that we publish cutting-edge research that impacts the lives of individuals with developmental differences positively.

In this 10th-anniversary edition, we are delighted to present seven outstanding articles that exemplify the breadth and depth of research on dyslexia conducted by academics and practitioners in Southeast Asia. These articles not only offer essential insights into the challenges faced by individuals with developmental differences but also propose innovative interventions and support strategies that can bring about tangible improvements in their lives.

1. Response and Non-response to Intervention for Reading Difficulties: What Role do Cognitive Correlates Play?



Response and Non-response to Intervention for Reading Difficulties: What Role do Cognitive Correlates Play?

Beth A O’Brien, Tan Chee Soon and Malikka Habib



Within the field of learning disabilities, many intervention studies find that treatment resisters remain despite gains in our understanding of best practices and effective treatment for reading development and disability. In this study, we examine good vs. poor responders in an intervention study with 147 early primary grade students in a learning support programme. Students were assessed for reading accuracy and fluency after completion of a tablet-based reading intervention, and classified as responders vs. non-responders based on criterion-referenced scores for word reading accuracy and fluency. Differences between the two groups were evaluated for the rate of growth on literacy measures over the intervention phase, their cognitive attributes at pre-intervention, and their in-lesson performance on the tablet-based intervention activities. Findings show the responder group had initial superior performance on decoding and spelling measures, as well as broad abilities related to nonverbal reasoning, working memory, phonological awareness and rapid symbol naming. Further, the gap in performance on decoding and spelling measures increased over time, with the non-responder group showing some improvement in these skills, but to a significantly smaller degree than the responder group. Different approaches to phonics intervention in the study resulted in the same proportion of non-responders. Further, children’s confusions with specific sound-symbol associations over the course of the interventions suggest potential challenges that teachers may highlight.


Keywords: reading disorder, learning disorder, treatment non-responders

2. Effective Network connectivity during Verbal Working Memory:



Effective Network connectivity during Verbal Working Memory: Understanding the Effect of Cross-sectional Neurodevelopment changes and the Influence of Dyslexia

Fu Yu Kwok, Beth A O’Brien, Stacey K H Tay, Monika Sobczak-Edmans and Annabel Chen



Functional neuroimaging studies have advanced the current understanding of changes in patterns of neuronal activation during verbal working memory with specific cerebrocerebellar functional networks identified. However, research examining the influence of typical and atypical neurodevelopment and task-related characteristics on functional connectivity in the context of verbal working memory is sparse.  Thus, the present study conducted a two-fold investigation to elucidate the differences in effective network connectivity in typically developing children and of young adults. Thereafter, the study compared the effect of dyslexia on network connectivity patterns. Thirty-five young adults, ten neurotypical children and ten children with dyslexia underwent fMRI scanning while performing a modified Sternberg working memory task. Dynamic causal modelling (DCM) was employed to analyze the effective connectivity between

co-activated brain regions. Results showed that (i) young adults and neurotypical children had patterns of activation for working memory with similar network connectivity, however (ii) children with dyslexia had a better fit for effective network connectivity models without cortical-subcortical modulatory connectivity. These findings provide a significant contribution to our present understanding of the effect of cross-sectional neurodevelopment and the impact of dyslexia on effective network connectivity during verbal working memory.


Keywords:  verbal working memory, fMRI, dynamic causal modelling, children, effective connectivity, dyslexia

3. Understanding Bullying Experiences among SEN Students



Understanding Bullying Experiences among SEN Students: A Parental Perspective

Madinah Begum and Sujatha Nair



A total of 185 parents of students studying at the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (das) were given online questionnaires, asking them about their children’s prior experiences with bullying and what they felt could be done to eliminate it. For qualitative data, we first devised common responses that parents had for each question and then recorded the frequency of those responses. Afterwards, we tabulated and analysed quantitative and qualitative data and charted all data for easier representation.

The data was examined in relation to gender and age. The findings indicate that students are most affected by verbal, indirect, and peer victimization, and the majority of the bullying lasted for years. Findings from this study also advocate that raising awareness and training for parents and schools would help prevent bullying among SEN students. Moreover, our data show that support from parents and schools was the most critical factor in helping to reduce bullying rates. Lastly, it was found that males experienced higher rates of bullying than females for all types of bullying.


Keywords:   Bullying Prevalence, SEN Students, Bullying Intervention, School and Parental Support, Parents’ Perspective, Raising awareness, Dyslexic students, Bullying and SEN Education

4. Effectiveness of incorporating a structured e-books programme



Effectiveness of incorporating a structured e-books programme to improve the outcomes for early struggling readers

Suthasha Kelly Bijay and Shakthi Bavani d/o Sathiasilan



Using a mixed study design of both qualitative and quantitative data analysis, this paper examined the implementation of Raz-Kids interactive electronic-books (e-books) levelled readers for shared reading in four preschool early literacy intervention classrooms (PELP) located at three different learning centres.  The study looked at educational therapists’ implementation of shared e-book sessions, projecting e-books onto a screen to extend the shared reading experience, and the impact this had on struggling readers’ early literacy skills and comprehension.  Participants included a diverse sample of 20 children and 5 Educational Therapists (EdTs).  Following a brief training session to ensure consistency of approach across the sample, teachers conducted 10 e-book shared reading sessions, over a 10-week period.  A pre and post-informal curriculum-based measure was used and compared with a control group to assess learning.  Results suggest that the use of Raz-Kids e-books had helped in improving pupils’ comprehension skills and complement teaching, learning and reading engagement.  It concludes that there is a similar effect from shared reading using print books to shared reading using e-books, and that both support children’s learning of discrete literacy skills, but may not be enough in helping them to become independent readers.


Keywords:        Struggling Learners, Preschool, Raz-Kids, Reading, e-books

5. Drama Approaches to Enhance Communication Skills in Children with Special Educational Needs



Drama Approaches to Enhance Communication Skills in Children with Special Educational Needs (SEN)

Amrit Kaur Gill



Communication is an important aspect of life. Every day we use varied forms of communication to communicate meaning to one another. Whether we are acquiring information or disbursing information, communication plays a vital key in education. Many children with special needs may find it extremely difficult to cope in schools for various reasons and one of them is the inability to communicate effectively among their peers and people around them. This paper examines the literature on drama approaches in relation to children with special educational needs (SEN), particularly children diagnosed with dyslexia and Speech and Language Impairment. Through this literature review, we hope teachers and educators alike would find drama as the bridge to foster and enhance communications skills among children with SEN.


Keywords:  drama, dyslexia, speech and language impairment, communication

6. Dyslexia in the Malay Language in Singapore



Dyslexia in the Malay Language in Singapore.

Hamadatun Najwa bte Yusuf Wahbi


This study investigated the difficulties faced by English-Malay bilingual learners with dyslexia. The purpose of the study was to have a better understanding of the difficulties faced by bilingual learners with dyslexia in acquiring the Malay language, particularly in the aspect of reading and reading comprehension. Secondly, the study aimed to gain a deeper understanding of Malay as a second language in learners with similar profiles.

Inductive analysis revealed that word reading difficulties were affected by the unfamiliarity of words, increasing word length and complexity of syllables and affixed words. Challenges in reading comprehension were due to poor word vocabulary and long comprehension passages. Additionally, the perceived usefulness of the Malay language as an alternative language for communicating with members of the community, as well as feeling supported in the classroom were the underlying motivating factors to learn the language.

These findings suggest that in teaching learners of this unique profile, phonological knowledge and morpheme instruction can facilitate reading in the Malay language. The length and lexical level of a given passage is also a factor to take into account when assigning tasks in the classroom. Finally, the esteem and anxiety levels must be considered for these English-Malay bilingual learners with dyslexia to maintain interest and motivation to learn Malay as a second language in Singapore.


Keywords:   dyslexia, English, Malay, Singapore, bilingual

7. Experience of activity and participation in individuals with Developmental Coordination Disorder/Dyspraxia and their surrounding people



Experience of activity and participation in individuals with Developmental Coordination Disorder/Dyspraxia and their surrounding people: a qualitative systematic review


Motohide Miyahara, Tessa Pocock, Isabelle Moebs and Rie Konno


Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)/Dyspraxia features a significant delay in lifespan motor development, which limits daily activities and restricts participation. This study aimed to systematically review and comprehensively synthesize the subjective experiences of activity and participation in individuals with DCD/Dyspraxia and their families and service providers to inform decisions and strategy development at practice and policy levels. To locate both published and unpublished studies, the following seven main databases were searched in April 2022: CINAHL, PsyclNFO, MEDLINE, Embase, ERIC, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, SPORTDiscus. A total of 48 studies met the inclusion criteria. Of the 48 studies, 20 studies were appraised as being of high quality and were subsequently used in the meta-aggregation. From the 20 studies, a total of 304 findings were extracted, classified into six categories, and used to generate three synthesized statements on activity and participation at the home and family level, school and peer level, and community level. Our findings indicated that individuals with DCD/Dyspraxia experience the deep and pervasive impacts on activity and participation in individually unique and nuanced contexts. Individualized evaluation of context, increased clinical resources, education and training would facilitate activity and participation.


Keywords:    activity, developmental coordination disorder, dyspraxia, participation, qualitative research