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From our work with the Perak Association For the Intellectually Disabled (PAFID) to our Bachelor of Special Needs Education programme, the empowerment of children with special needs has always been an overarching goal of QIU since our inception.

Our efforts to champion the special needs community’s cause continued last weekend, as QIU’s Educationist Club hosted a day-long workshop on ‘The New Phase in Special Education’. 

Themed ‘Improvement as a Whole’, the workshop was aimed at spreading the latest information and insights on special needs education to parents, teachers and non-governmental organisation (NGO) members.

We were thrilled to welcome Dato’ Dr Amar Singh HSS, Patron Senior Consultant Paediatrician at Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun Ipoh and Founder of the National Early Childhood Intervention Council (NECIC); and Dr Safani Bari, Deputy Director of the Southeast Asia Ministry of Education Organisation, Special Education Needs (SEAMEO, SEN) to our halls to spread the word.

On hand to officiate the event was QIU Chief Operating Officer Nicholas Goh. Also present were QIU Registrar Muhammad MG Omar, Director of Academic Affairs Prof Dr Tina Lim and Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences Prof Dr Chan Nee Nee. 

In his speech, the COO underlined the university’s commitment to the special needs cause.

“We want to make QIU a referral centre for special needs education. The goal is to accumulate experts who can educate the public and dispel myths about people with special needs,” he said.

The event was divided into two main sessions – four concurrent workshops and two talks delivered by leading experts in the field.

The day was kicked off by Dato’ Dr Amar, who delivered a talk titled ‘Common Developmental Disabilities – How to Recognise Them and the Role of Early Intervention’

Among the topics covered included childhood autism, dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and the importance of seeking early intervention for children who could be exhibiting signs of these disorders.

Dr Safani’s talk, meanwhile, was titled ‘The Numbers Behind Increasing Special Education Enrolment’ and covered the latest statistics of people with disabilities and the enrolment of students with disabilities.

During the talk, he explained that over a billion people, about 15% of the world’s population, have some form of disability. He noted that the rates of disability were increasing in part due to ageing populations and an increase in chronic health conditions

Dr Safani also noted that the number of children known to have autism has increased dramatically since the 1980s, at least partly due to changes in diagnostic practice. However, he said it was unclear whether prevalence has actually increased because unidentified environmental risk factors could not be ruled out.

The second part of the programme saw four concurrent workshops conducted at different stations. The workshops covered topics like audiometry tests, kinesiology and movement modalities, shadow teaching and home-based therapy.

Enlightening and engaging, this was yet another event that made us all proud as a University, as we assisted in spreading valuable information on a serious topic to the community. Thank you to our distinguished guests, all the participants, and the organisers for making it a success!

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