our programmes

Educational Therapy

(A) Math programme, NUMBERS (1.5 hr)
Grade : K2 – Sec 2 for both low & high achievers
Age : 5-14 years old (Grades : K1-Sec 2)
fees : (weekly grp) $300-350-400/mth or (indiv) $80-120/hr

(B) READING programme, WORDS (1.5hr)
Grade : K2 – Sec 4 (dyslexia, gifted, SLI)
Age : 3 – 16 years old
fees : (weekly grp) $300-350-400/mth or (indiv) $80-120/hr

(C) Creative writing OR Math problem-solving (upper primary)
Fees : $450 per child for 3 day workshop (2.5 hrs)

(D) Pri One Prep – social behaviour & classroom behaviour
Age : 6-7 years old (GDD, ASD, SPD)
fees : (weekly grp) $350/mth

Education Specialist in communication, reading and Math difficulties. 

Home-based therapy available in Bishan & AMK area at $150/session of 1.5 hr. Short-term subsidised therapy for low income families : 2 available slots ($160/mth)

Pls call Nine0885421 or email pingsped@yahoo.com.sg for more info.

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Unlovable

I have a 3-legged hamster now.

She got injured one day before my breast lump excision. The vet said he couldn’t save her foot as it had turned black & likely to turn gangrenous if he tried splinting it. The hamster tried to escape by climbing the hamster wheel. Somehow her foot got caught between the wheel clip & cage. Thankfully there wasn’t any bleeding although i could see a bit of bone sticking out.

I brought her home 3-4 days later. She was grumpy as she had a cone on her head. Yes, it’s the kind that dogs wear, to prevent her from licking the stitches. The vet fashioned it out of cardboard.

I had to remove the plaster, disinfect her wound & feed her medicine. This hamster is more like an ingenious hamstersaurus Rex.

I got a deep bite. She squeaked & barked. Even managed to remove scotch tape by wetting paws & scratching. The cone became smaller day by day. I had to make a new cone & fix it to her head. Or spend another $50 at the vet.

So no, I had to attach this cone myself. It took 2 adults and one kid to do this operation. We still failed. In the end, we just stuck an extra bit of cardboard under the cone so that she couldn’t lick/bite the stitches as there were some tiny blood spots on the paper towels.

Her medical fees were exorbitant; I could buy a dog or 3 docile hamsters with fancy fur or 3 rabbits with the money.

One day, I had evil thoughts of putting her down. I could easily buy another hamster which is tamer. Her medical fees were exorbitant; I could buy a dog or 3 docile hamsters with fancy fur or 3 rabbits with that money. Or 6 Syrian hamsters. (I was in pain too cos I had surgery too.)

She was unlovable from the start. I had bought a cute gentle hamster for my girl which happened to be pregnant 😞 she was the only survivor of the litter. She was bitey from day 1 post nursing. She has many wild hamster instincts & likes foraging for food. So no, she doesn’t use a food dish. Gave me heart attacks & much joy to have one surviving baby hamster. The sheer magic of a new life.

I recall my friend telling me that there’s no joy in raising her son who has SPD. He gets into trouble, needs expensive therapy & is “ungrateful” for all her sacrifices (in that he’s always demanding, blaming others & taking her for granted).

So it’s the same for some parents of kids with special needs. It’s tough. I’ve seen parents giving up on their kids & opting to have a second child. They grieved over dashed hopes & dreams for their child.

“We love because He first loved us” I saw this on the church bulletin.

I asked God, “Does this apply to animals too?” How i wished I don’t have to care for her anymore.

I realised my friend walked through the darkest moments with God; she has changed. Without God, she does not have the reserves to love or help her son. Her marriage was strained at one point too.

My hamster hasn’t given up on herself. She’s doing well. But she does need me to feed her medication & food.

I care for her out of a mix of duty & “love”, having witnessed her birth. But her Maker loves her so I will never entertain thoughts of putting her down again.

A human child is worth much more. Jesus left heaven to be savior. He loved unlovable sinners & untouchable lepers. Draw on His love for God is love.

Otherwise I would also suffer from burnout. Well I actually did suffer from burnout due to various reasons.

I’m set free & restored in the Jewish year of Jubilee. Hallelujah. Praise the Lord.

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Teaching Chinese to kids with visual processing difficulties 

1. Using colour

2. Multi-sensory learning (using tactile memory)

– magnetic radicals

– marker & mini white board with grids

– sand tray

3. Irlens lens

– helpful for some children

4. Using cognitive strategies e.g. Verbal descriptive labels/terms 

I had to write out all the Chinese characters in 2 colours for the first 5-6 lessons (abt 2 months). After that, Baby C was able to learn from Chinese tutor on her own. 

For Chinese spelling, she remembers better when she uses the marker & white board. 

In Spore primary school context where the pace is FAST, we could only afford 1-2 months of play with magnetic radicals. After Baby C learnt her own ways to analyze the characters, she learns on her own. I also teach her how to profile  mistakes so she knows which characters she tends to “see” or write wrongly. 

Nonetheless she will not be able to remember new characters without writing them out many times due to visual processing difficulties . 😰 

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I understand now

I was becoming more concerned whenever I looked at Chinese handwriting of Baby C (who is now in Primary Two) .

She adds or drops extra lines and strokes. Her diagonal lines are in the wrong direction. Her dots are all over. Finally I was amazed when she flipped a difficult Chinese character. It’s that “sheng” in sheng ti (body)

So I got her referred to KKH via the polyclinic route.

Baby C did a visual perceptual assessment (standardised type). She scored 95-99% for all sections except visual discrimination and form constancy. She got 37.5% for those two domains. If you google those, these are the *key domains* which affect reading and writing.

The young OT pronounced Baby C as normal and said that her other strengths will compensate for her weaknesses. She just has to practise writing more times, exactly what my uneducated elderly mother would have said! I should have paid my mother. If only, she had not passed on ….

I showed her the OT report done in 2012 by Jacqueline Of Ozworks which mentioned that my daughter was mildly dyspraxic. She dismissed the report as not reliable as a standardised test was not used. I think there is at least a 15-year gap in work experience between the two OTs.

If I didn’t know any better, I would have believed the KKH OT’s words.

I like the first ENT doctor and her assigned PD. But the protocols are literally a waste of resources and adding to healthcare costs. In the end, I went to a GP last week as I was becoming very worried about her intestinal health. She has been having stomach aches and diarrhoea for 6 months intermittently. He removed impacted ear wax from her right ear. They are big (to me) for her tiny ear!

From April to July, Baby C went through 4 audiology assessments, one blood test, 2 stool tests and one brain MRI!!!!  Plus that unfruitful OT assessment.  I spent probably a thousand dollars for subsidised treatments

I spent $120 for 3 weeks’ supply of probiotics and to remove that ear wax last week.

 

 

 

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not progressing

I took on A in Jan or Feb this year for the TALK program. He is about 5 years old.

A is almost non-verbal.He is a quiet boy who is generally withdrawn and not responsive. He only speaks a few single words when he is aroused sufficiently (excited).

The initial target of 3-5 repetition of sounds never materialised. At best days, he could only repeat certain sounds/words 2-3 times after much prompting & stimulation.

After 2 months or 6 sessions, i realised he could have dyspraxia. He was unable to retain motor patterns. I estimate his IQ is around 70-80 as he could recognise and sequence the alphabet quite easily. He also can rote count to 30 easily. He could recognise certain pictures too. He could form specific letter patterns such as FOX and PIXAR. So i knew his inability to trace/write the alphabet (a skill which his parents said he learnt last year in school) was not entirely due to cognitive factors.

Kids with this type of dyspraxia and sensory issues often require hand-over-hand prompts. Even then it would take a long time to learn imitation skills such as making a Y shape with his arms. They have a weak grasp of pencils but suddenly turn muscular if his parents try to remove the iPhone or iPad. They are easy to manage in the sense that they are not active. They “forget” easily as the brain does not register the motor movements well.

I advised the parents to do oral-motor stimulation but they were unable to follow through due to family and work commitments. It was also difficult for them to do daily exercise for sensory regulation. His basic needs were taken care of by a helper and grandparents. He did not even have to lift a spoon to feed himself in the morning.

By May, he was “babbling” more in terms of variety of sounds but was unable to repeat upon request. The school reported that he would say specific words during music & movement. e.g. bus & go. These are more predictable, compared to other random vocalisation.

He knows his teeth and will smile with tactile prompt. He sticks out his tongue at times. I made several videos of oral motor exercises & his responses & vocalisations.

In June, they requested a checklist of how often they should do the oral-motor exercises. These have been communicated from March to May – 5, 8 repetitions depending on time contraints. Ideally, they should at least do it once in the morning, afternoon and evening. (My part-time cleaner said they should do it whenever they are free. )

Suggested activities : sand paper letters, water play (squeezing water from sponge, water gun), painting, cutting, crawling, ball play, brushing cheek, etc

in the past, some sped teachers will describe such children as having poor body sense/image. We now know that the precise diagnostic terms are dyspraxia and sensory processing disorder.

Having considered his age and my medical issues, i had to advise them to seek occupational therapy and speech therapy. I referred the parents to seek help from an integrated centre which offers both OT and ST.

So we stopped therapy in June as A is likely to have dyspraxia, SPD and speech apraxia which required intensive therapy.

 

The usual OT protocol for dyspraxia & SPD is brushing and joint compression to sensitise or desensitise the skin and muscles. After the brain is primed, the therapist will follow up with certain exercises to help the child gain awareness of his body – range of motion, spatial judgement etc. When these exercises are repeated when the child is in an optimal state of arousal, he begins to process incoming stimuli and become aware of what his body can or cannot do. Adaptability depends on the child’s IQ. e.g. cutting skill – some kids can cut most shapes while some kids have to be taught how to cut different shapes and lines. With ASD kids, there is an additional challenge cos their minds are not engaged. They could be stimming on some topic.

Children with higher IQ tend to progress very fast within 6 months due to “low base”. There is usually a plateau after a certain period with the SAME therapist. This is because most therapists have different strengths and specialisations. They may be good with 3-6 year-olds, but are unable to help older kids effectively. It may be good to take a short 3-month break or change therapists if the child does not make much progress.

There is a certain speech therapist who is a little rough with kids but good at making non-verbal kids vocalise. However if their receptive language (vocabulary) remain limited, it does not follow that they will speak much.

 

 

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Orton Gillingham approach & Learning Disability

Here’s a simple  explanation of OG approach to reading : 

Is All About Reading a Complete Orton-Gillingham Program?

This is a P5 foundation science question. 

My new student R has attended an OG program at one of the three notable OG centres in Singapore. His reading is better but still inconsistent. His CA scores ranged from 20 to 40.

He couldn’t answer part b. All he could say were anther, filament, ovary etc. he couldn’t relate to petals & flowers even when cue was given. I told him the answer after scaffolding thought processes but he still couldn’t write the sentence grammatically. 

 

There are many such students enrolled in OG centres. They have dyslexia AND another  disability. 

The OG approach was developed for children who have average intelligence. As there’s an emphasis on teaching explicit rules, kids with certain language or developmental profile can only benefit from short periods of OG training. 

Many teachers who have undertook  OG instructor courses are certified to teach reading but may have little understanding of other developmental disorders. As there is limited regulation, DAS has taken the lead to have a registry of educational therapists; some of whom have taken DAS courses. Unfortunately, the courses are mainly relevant to children with dyslexia. So strictly speaking, they are reading specialists, not educational therapists. 

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Teaching common multiples for computation in fractions 

G is 16 years & has Down syndrome. We are doing P5 Foundation Math.

He did “master” the concept in 1 lesson. however since he’s enrolled in a special school, he would have forgotten the steps by the time I see him next week. 

  
 

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teaching the alphabet

This seems to be a very popular search.

Most children who have exceptional difficulties learning the alphabet (by that I mean the child is about 4 years old and parents & regular teachers have been unsuccessful in teaching the alphabet) are tactile learners. Some children simply find phonics too erm boring or abstract.
They have to associate the letter with something that is of high interest.

1. association with concrete objects
– I taught a 5-6 year old girl who had meningitis as an infant. She had exceptional difficulties learning the alphabet. She couldn’t trace independently nor name any letter after 20 min. Every letter was either A, B or C.
– As she only came once per week & parents weren’t very consistent in home teaching, her progress was slow. Even with cognitive limitations, I expected her to name and write 26 letters within 3-5 months.

After much reinforcement & motivation, she did master the alphabet in 10 months & left to join regular tuition classes.

How did I do it? She learnt 1-2 letters plus other stuff per session. So 26 letters should take 13 sessions or 4 months, right?
Not if she only comes 2-3 times per month….

Anyway, here’s how i did it – every letter was associated with a picture of her favourite food e.g. P is for Prata. Sometimes, i would even provide a food reinforcer.

2. Stop teaching the phonics for now. Do it when they can read about 30-50 words by sight.

3. If the child has fine or gross motor issues, tracing on sandpaper is one of the best ways of learning the strokes & shapes of each letter.

here are some useful links :
a) http://www.howwemontessori.com/how-we-montessori/2012/12/by-bobby-and-june-george.html
b) http://montessorischoolhouse.org/content/reading
c) http://www.my-organized-chaos.com/how-to-make-your-own-sandpaper-letters/

I met the girl for a review after a few years. She had learnt to read some words. But as with most children with IQ of 60-80, literacy levels often remain at K2-P1 levels. Most will have basic expressive language skills. While they can express their needs and feelings, they usually don’t use language well.

It is easy for an experienced teacher to teach the alphabet & basic reading skills BUT if language skills do not develop, the child will not have the necessary language skills to support higher order thinking skills. Parents should pick a teacher who has a holistic view of child development. Personally I never liked it when fellow colleagues use the word “pitiful” on children with special needs. Low expectations equal low achievements.

The girl was transferred to a special school after Pri 2 or 3 as she could no longer grasp lessons.

I end my post with this testimonial – the boy came to me in Nov or Dec of his K2 year. While he could recognise some letters, he could barely read. It was evident that he had mild intellectual disability and other challenging behaviours. I advised them to defer his P1 enrolment but his mother decided otherwise. She should know as she was a teacher in a special school. She knew what her son would be in for. She took the plunge in mainstream primary school. He was with me for about 3-4 years. She was very supportive and worked closely with me.

ex-student fr K2-P3 (mild intellectual disability)

ex-student fr K2-P3 (mild intellectual disability)

He is performing well in secondary school. He is enrolled in Normal Technical stream. He gets Edusave award regularly.
He has a future because of his parents. His father paid the bills & therapy. His mother quit her job & supported him during the darkest moments (it’s not the failing part..it was the challenging behaviours. He also has SPD.) At the heart of every child, he or she wants to do well. All the parents need to do is KEEP that desire alive and reward/recognise the efforts.

If this boy can do it, 60% of students in special schools can do better.

He has forgotten me but i can never forget the things he did in my office (3 sweat drops)

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early intervention & motor development

twohalfyrbalanced development

When Baby C was 2 plus, she could comprehend well (advanced cognitive development) but her motor skills were like any other toddler. So she couldn’t draw well although she had a good pencil grip. But she could make beautiful pictures with magnetic shapes & even these montessori counters. it was amazing cos it’s symmetrical ! She is good at math 🙂

(In fact her handwriting is messy all the way until a few weeks ago.)

It is frustrating for any toddler who doesn’t have good motor control as many perceive & understand more than they can say or do.

So most early childhood programs, including early intervention, incorporate motor skills development and developing attention span & switching, executive function and  receptive language ability.

So pls do more sports & go outdoors from 1 to 4 years old!!

i highly recommend splash parks (not swimming!) for sensory regulation.

 

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Eureka

baby c is 6 this year.

tonight, after reading some parenting forums, I finally realized that playgroups, enrichment etc do not help very much in a toddler’s development cos  they can’t sit still or attend to adult in any group lesson…they only learn they are not supposed to move & “understand” 0-40% of lesson…

the ones that seem to “work” are the parent-accompanied ones. DUH. Cos the newbie parents practise & practise at home. These parents are also more teachable, compared to the laid-back or too-busy type of parents.

Parents should just spend at least 1-2 hour daily – interacting, playing, talking, listening & reading.

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Saying goodbye

I’m probably saying goodbye soon to last few students with special needs. They are aged 14-16 years. One has been with me as early as 2005.

I will discuss the child with ASD who joined me at age 8 or 9. He began to normalize at age 12 or 13. He can now recall certain events from 6 years old. Using words. It used to be just sounds/grunts & repetitive pictures of slides, windows & fans.

Unfortunately he missed that precious window of childhood. he’s a strapping young man although he’s in Pri 6. He wants to play like a little boy eg touch & “rough play”. He jumps with excitement.

It can be alarming or puzzling for strangers to see a 170+ tall young man.

His mother still insists that she has given him a strong academic foundation. Now she will focus on social aspect. He only learnt how to buy things with money last year.

I recall how how he came close to breaking when his mother made him do exam paper after exam paper.

She doesn’t remember that clearly now.

She is a very devoted parent but too hung up abt “academic worth” — the need to prove her son is not stupid or something. Understanding photosynthesis does not add any value to his life. Being able to act silly with classmates at Pri 3 (not Pri 6) is much more meaningful.

I felt discouraged. There’s no purpose in passing exams if he can’t relate to life.

I’m glad to say if a parent or therapist doesn’t give up trying, it does bear fruit. Of course, the fruit depends on what you put in the soil.

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