Research Journal

APJDD Vol 7 No 1 (Jan 2020)

1. Editorial Comment

Angela J. Fawcett, Editor-in-Chief

It is a very great pleasure to publish the 13th issue of the Asia Pacific Journal of Developmental Differences, now in its seventh year of publication, which is published by the Dyslexia Association of Singapore. The response to the previous issues continue to be extremely gratifying, and we intend to maintain these high standards in this issue and forthcoming issues. We have now amassed an even stronger editorial board, and I am grateful for the support of the academics and professionals involved in resolving any issues arising. In this issue, we present seven articles representing international research on a number of important issues addressing theory and practice. In this issue, we cover the full range, from early education through to university, and highlight a range of approaches that have proved useful with children or adults with developmental differences. In the first article from Lee Er Ker and colleagues, Speech-Language Therapists at the Dyslexia Association of Singapore, the authors set out to investigate the impact of their therapy on the progress of children with language difficulties on subtests of the CELF®– 4UK, a key measure of language in common use in speech therapy. This was evaluated in a controlled study with the intervention group making significantly greater progress over the course of the intervention than the control group. This is an interesting study in an area which is rarely tackled in the literature because it is difficult to construct an appropriate study for children who can suffer from a range of differences in their language. In the following two articles, a range of approaches are considered with children who suffer from visual deficits in their processing, that have been associated with dyslexia. In the first study presented by Isobelle Wong she undertakes an analysis of the level of visual deficits in a group of 30 children receiving support from the Dyslexia Association of Singapore. This study introduces a number of technical terms associated with a visual deficit which are important for the following study as well. The results of this study identified a greater proportion of visual deficits in dyslexic children than in the general population, with some children showing evidence of quite severe deficits that would be predicted to impact on their progress in reading. Recommendations are made that future studies should routinely consider these aspects of processing….

2. Effectiveness of DAS Speech-Language Therapy: A controlled evaluation

Lee Er Ker1*, Ho Shuet Lian1, Sharon Reutens1 & Elizabeth Lim Yien Yien1

1. Dyslexia Association of Singapore


Background: School-age children enrolled in the DAS speech-language therapy programme are often diagnosed with both dyslexia and language disorder. The current study shows the positive impact of language therapy on these children as it is practised by speech-language therapists (SLTs) at DAS.


Methods: The study involved 23 children in mainstream education aged 5 to 12 who were diagnosed with dyslexia and subsequently with a mild-severe language disorder at the start of the study. A small-scale quasi-experimental design with a control group was used without random assignment of participants to either an intervention condition (n=11), or a control condition (n=12). The intervention group underwent language therapy directly delivered by DAS SLTs in a group setting (1 SLT: 2-3 children) once a week, an hour per session, for at least a term (i.e. ≥ 8 sessions). Participants in the control group matched those in the intervention group overall on age and level of severity but did not receive any speech-language therapy for the duration of the study. All participants in both groups received the same level of literacy support from educational therapists in the curriculum-based DAS Main Literacy Programme (MLP) whilst the study was on-going.

Results: Participants in the intervention group showed performance improvements compared to those in the control group in the primary outcome measures of different language skills as measured by the core language subtests of CELF®–4UK, a standardised assessment tool used to assess the presence of a language disorder or delay in children aged 5-21. Statistically, significant improvements were found in both the raw and scaled scores of the Formulated Sentences subtest. In addition, positive effect sizes ranging from small to large were observed for other subtests.


Conclusions: The current small scale controlled intervention study targeting the range of subskills addressed by CELF®–4UK identified the significant impact of the approach adopted by SLTs at DAS, with strong effect sizes. The findings support the use of small-group intervention as effective for children with a range of severity in language disorders.

Keywords:           speech-language therapy, SLT, DAS, language disorder, group therapy, language intervention.

3. An Exploratory Study to Investigate Eye Movement Performance and Visual Perceptual Skills in Children with Dyslexia

Isobelle Wong1*

1. Educational Therapist / Optometrist


During recent years, many studies have shown that reading difficulties such as dyslexia can co-exist with visual processing deficits. As estimated, 80% of the time, a child learns through the visual channel; any deficits in visual processing may affect learning. While intervention related to phonological deficits is well accepted and practised in Singapore, the possible impact of visual deficits is rarely considered, especially with regard to eye movements and visual perception. Hence, these deficits are usually discovered much later or remain undiagnosed. This study investigates the eye movement performance and visual perception skills in a group of 30 children with dyslexia from the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) learning centres. The tests used for assessment were the Developmental Eye Movement (DEM) test and the Test of Visual Perceptual Skills (non-motor) 4th Edition (TVPS-4). The data collected were analysed against the normative data. Among the participants, 56.67% of them showed eye movement deficits and 46.67% of them displayed visual perceptual weaknesses. Sixty percent of the parents were aware that their child tends to leave out or confuse words when reading. However, only eleven of the participants had an eye examination by an ophthalmologist or optometrist.


Based on the key findings in this study, it is essential to raise awareness among professionals and parents regarding the importance of eye movements and visual perception in children with dyslexia. Any child who shows signs of visual difficulties should be referred for more in-depth visual assessment to identify the actual cause of the difficulties.

Keywords: dyslexia, reading difficulties, eye movement, visual perception, visual perceptual skills, visual processing deficits, rapid automatized naming (RAN)

4. The Effect of Wearing ChromaGen Lens II on Visual Stress, Binocular Visual Functions and Reading Performance in Children with Dyslexia

Sharanjeet-Kaur1* & Mizhanim Mohamad Shahimin1, Rifizati Buyong1

1. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia


Dyslexia is a neurodevelopmental disorder that primarily affects reading ability. There are many anecdotal claims that coloured lenses and overlays improve reading performance. However, the effectiveness is still controversial. This study aimed to compare visual stress levels, binocular visual functions and reading performance on children with dyslexia without and with the second generation of ChromaGen lens (ChromaGen lens II). A total of 28 children with dyslexia were invited to participate in this study. All subjects were free from ocular and systemic diseases and never had any visual intervention for their dyslexia problem. The study involved pre -and post-assessments of visual stress, binocular visual functions and reading performance without and with ChromaGen lens II wear. Each individual subject chose their own preferred colour of the Chromagen lens II. For both pre-and post-assessments, the subjects completed a computerised visual stress test (Lucid ViSS) and a series of binocular visual function tests (stereopsis, the amplitude of accommodation, fixation disparity, lag of accommodation and near the point of convergence). The reading performance was assessed based on reading rate and time. The results for visual stress showed no significant difference with and without wearing the ChromaGen lens II (Z = -1.107, p = 0.268). There were no significant differences in other binocular vision functions except for stereopsis (Z = -4.413, p = 0.00) with and without wearing ChromaGen lens II. There were also no significant improvements in reading time (Z = -0.159, p = 0.873) and reading rate (Z = -1.0.47, p = 0.295) with and without wearing the ChromaGen lens II. The findings suggest that ChromaGen lens II does not improve reading performance in children with dyslexia. It also does not change most binocular vision functions except stereopsis.

Keywords: Dyslexia, visual stress, reading, coloured lenses, binocular visual performance

5. Towards improving the inclusion of a student with autism and ADHD in an international school.

George Cowie1*

1. The Reading Clinic, Cambodia


In this article, the author, Head of Learning Support in an international school, presents a study of attempts to improve the inclusion of a student with high functioning autism (HFA) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Following a request from the student for support with disclosure, the methodology involved working with the parents of the student to produce a Powerpoint presentation for students and staff to develop awareness. This was followed by a questionnaire to evaluate any impact of this enhanced knowledge. 21 teachers responded and the viewpoint of students was also sampled. Recommendations to improve understanding for staff and students and implications for further integration are discussed.

Keywords: High Functioning Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Framework, Inclusion.

6. Discrepancies between support provided and accessed in UK for disabled students

Kristina Addis1*

1. Swansea University


The aim of this research was to identify the uptake of Disabled Student Allowance (DSA) allocated support by disabled students within a higher educational institution, solely within the Art & Design faculty in the UK. Specifically, the study intended to ascertain what support roles, in particular, were not being taken up by students and possible barriers or explanations as to why this is. The study gathered quantitative statistical data as to the number of hours taken up and within what particular role. Qualitative data was gained to further investigate the uptake levels through the use of online questionnaires. The in-depth case study allowed for data to be gathered within a narrow field and for recommendations to be made. Results show that significant barriers remain for students with disabilities within the university, and the system set up to reduce this gap may very well be part of the problem, alongside other factors such at the university department organising the provision.

Several recommendations such as the necessity for a review of the current processes, particularly the Needs Assessment procedure is required, alongside institutional-based improvements. Further investigation is required into the discrepancies between support provision and uptake identified by this research. Implications for establishing a support system in regions where none is yet available is also considered but again required further attention.

Keywords: Disabled Students Allowance, Support Provision, Barriers to Support, Assistive Technology, Equality

7. Learning articulation, language and literacy (ALL) through echo poems for young children

Patricia Ng1*

1. National Institute of Education, 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. 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.

Keywords: Echo poems, young children, difficulties in articulation, language, and literacy.

8. The importance of creative and positive workplace culture: A case study on how creative initiatives foster better relationships, resilience and mindfulness at work for Special Education Teachers.

PHarsheeni Hanna Rajoo1*

1. Dyslexia Association of Singapore


Positive workplace culture is vital in nurturing teamwork, increasing productivity, resilience and nurturing mindful individuals over time. This aligns with the essential nature of optimism and how crucial it is to have a career that emotionally and mentally fulfils, challenges and centres us; most of us do spend almost half of our time in the workplace after all. This notion is especially pivotal for Special Education teachers (both new and experienced) who encounter high levels of occupational stress which usually result in burnout, poor teaching, and attrition. Special Education Needs (SEN) teachers like DAS Educational Therapists are at a higher risk of burnout when compared with other professionals (Ram & Samsudin, 2019). The well-being of therapists and the quality of lessons delivered in the classrooms are closely related. Feelings of not belonging, and lack of support, meaning and motivation for the job will trample the performance of individuals in the Special Education Needs Industry. The evolution of challenges in the Education industry is inevitable. However, the opportunity to create a more holistic and healthy workplace platform can easily be achieved based on the approach of adopting fun at the workplace, born out of mindful initiatives. This study has been pieced together to create awareness on how creative and mindful initiatives like gathering for purposeful activities proved to enhance working experiences and camaraderie. In this descriptive case study, we will delve into how a particular group of Educational Therapists from centre ‘X’ seeded the culture of including fun at the workplace through one mission-based game. This initiative to welcome new colleagues into the workplace was developed to foster better relationships and enrich the workplace culture for this group of Educational Therapists. Eventually, it became a part of the learning centre X’s culture. The main cultural trend that binds this study is the increase in collective creative efforts and how this can lead to better productivity, rise in resilience through a better support system at work and, ultimately, the nurturing of mindfulness and well-being.


Mindfulness, happiness, resilience, workplace culture, creativity, purpose and
meaning, positive psychology, well-being.