Speakers’ Abstracts


Today’s Vision, Tomorrow’s Reality: Building an Early Education System for all Children

High quality early childhood education produces lasting academic, social and behavioural gains for all children. The Singaporean government’s doubling of investment in the early childhood education over the next five years signifies its commitment to improve the quality of the sector. In the case of early intervention, research has proven how it can ameliorate the effects of identified disabilities. The challenge now is to build a system which provides accessible, affordable high quality education to all children, including those with and without disabilities. This keynote address discusses the elements of inclusive early childhood education and how early intervention can play a part in its impact.

Dr Ilene S. Schwartz, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Special Education, and Director of the Haring Centre for Research and Training in Education, University of Washington


Today’s Reality in Tomorrow’s Vision

Growing up, Ms Chia Yong Yong, President of SPD, had the support of many. Her family, friends and teachers taught her, nurtured her and accepted her like they would any child without a disability. Such acceptance built her confidence and sense of self-worth. Such inclusion gave her equal access to opportunities as her peers, helped her to become who she is today, and allowed her to contribute back to the community. However, the inclusion that she experienced is not always the order of the day. Through her own experiences, Ms Chia will share her vision for an inclusive society and her perspectives on the important role that early intervention professionals play in nurturing our young generation and building an inclusive future.

Ms Chia Yong Yong, PBM
President, SPD
Nominated Member of Parliament


Defining Quality: What are the Essential Components of High Quality Early Education

High quality early education programs provide environments that are safe, responsive, and foster interaction and exploration. The purpose of this session is to review the essential components that define high quality learning environments for children of all abilities and backgrounds.

Dr Ilene S. Schwartz, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Special Education, and Director of the Haring Centre for Research and Training in Education, University of Washington

Making Inclusive Education Happen: Turning Beliefs into Action

An inclusive school is one that supports the needs of all learners (children with and without disabilities) and systematically works to ensure that all children participate, belong, and feel like a member. We have been conducting research and disseminating practices on building inclusive education for over 50 years. We are committed to the vision of a world where children of all abilities learn, play, and grow together. Translating this vision into reality requires that we create environments in which children of all abilities can participate successfully in valued routines, rituals, and activities. Through this participation we help children become members of the community, develop meaningful relationships, and develop the skills that they need to be successful in school, home, and in the community. The purpose of this workshop is to outline the beliefs that support inclusive education and provide concrete suggestions to educators, parents, and students about strategies that they can implement to make inclusion a reality.

Dr Ilene S. Schwartz, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Special Education, and Director of the Haring Centre for Research and Training in Education, University of Washington

Authentic Assessment: What does it mean and how to use it in early intervention?

This presentation will start with a brief introduction of the use of conventional norm-referenced assessment tools in early childhood and how these assessments fail to collect comprehensive information about young children.

Authentic assessment is recommended as a more appropriate approach to assess young children. Authentic instruments are function-based and based in a child’s routines, which have been developed to address the limitations of conventional assessments in order to collect comprehensive and accurate information of a child or family to inform informed decisions. Researchers have suggested a spectrum of “authenticity.” The presenter will use the AEPS as an example to demonstrate how to evaluate the authenticity of assessment tools, and distribute a checklist for practical use.

The presenter will introduce the application of authentic assessment in four common types of assessment in early intervention: screening, eligibility determination, programming and effectiveness evaluation. Examples from the U.S. will be presented about how to triangulate and corroborate assessment results from multiple sources of information or measures in order to make important decisions in early intervention. Questions will be asked to facilitate discussion of applying authentic assessment approach in the Singapore context.

Participants will develop an overall understanding of common types of assessment in early intervention (foundation level), will learn how to evaluate and improve the authenticity of assessment tools (application level), and will engage in a discussion of how to improve the current assessment practices in early intervention in Singapore (systems level).

Dr Xie Huichao
Research Scientist, Education and Cognitive Development Lab, National Institute of Education

Engagement in EIPIC classrooms: What is it, how important is it, and how can we encourage it?

When children in EIPIC classrooms are asked to pay attention in class, what the adults usually want is for them to be engaged in the learning process(es). What is student engagement? How does it look like in an early intervention classroom? How important is student engagement? What can teachers do to enhance student engagement?

To provide answers to these questions, the data from our classroom observation session of the 400 children from EIPIC will be reported. We will be reporting findings based predominantly on the FACES Engagement Codes (FEC) which not only measure engagement but also provides an account of the contextual influences. We will also be supplementing our findings from our observation sessions based on the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS). We conclude this presentation with a reflection on teacher practice within EIPIC classrooms.

Dr Kenneth Poon
Associate Professor, Early Childhood and Special Education, National Institute of Education

Facilitating Functional Outcomes in Children through Evidence-Informed Early Intervention Principles and Practices

Early intervention services have always been helm by passionate interventionists whose aim is to reduce the impact of disability and facilitate potential in the children and families they serve. Measuring the impact of intervention however, has always been a challenge. Do children experience real change that help them function in society?

This presentation will present key evidence-based early intervention (EI) principles and practices that has been well established by research. These principles have been actively used and contextualised in 4 EIPIC centres from 2014 – 2017. The presentation will highlight generic evidenced-informed processes drawn up based on the journey and experiences of these centres in enhancing their application of EI principles across the Intake, Assessment, Intervention Planning and Intervention phases within the EIPIC process. It will also present one of the centers focused more on developing a functional outcome measurement system for EIPIC (ECHO).

The presentation is targeted to early interventionists, which includes teachers and allied health professionals, as well as early childhood educators. It aims to demonstrate how early interventionists and early childhood educators can continue to make an impact on the outcomes of the children and their families we serve.

Dr Lim Chun Yi
Occupational Therapist, Dept. of Child Development, KK Hospital Singapore

Mr Johnny Tan
Principal Occupational Therapist, Dept. of Child Development, KK Hospital Singapore

Ms Low Hwee San
Divisional Director, THK EIPIC Centre

Collaboration Towards a More Conducive Preschool Landscape for Children with Developmental Needs… A Journey

The 3 year old child in the EIPIC class with the other 5 children is fetched by his grandma. He goes home for an early lunch and then to his preschool for the afternoon session. He is sometimes absent for days and looks tired when he returns. Why?

In real life, a child exists and functions in different settings, and sometimes very differently. Hence, many stakeholders with different social and professional backgrounds can be involved in supporting a child’s development.

Collaboration between all of these stakeholders has been noted to be important.

We will explore who these stakeholders are and discuss how collaborations can be initiated, maintained and enhanced. Stakeholders include the child, his parents, family and other caregivers, his preschool teachers, early intervention teachers and therapists as well as other community partners, such as his doctor, case manager and or social worker.

One of the more established of these collaborations is the Development Support-Learning Support (DS-LS) programme. Synergy of partnerships is fundamental in building efficient and effective community resources to provide every child a more inclusive and conducive preschool environment. The DS-LS programmes bring together critical stakeholders and harness on their expertise from the health, early intervention and preschool sectors to support the development of our preschool children. In additional, a new preschool professional – the Learning Support Educators (LSEds) – is established within the DS-LS programmes. They work collaboratively with preschool teachers and therapists to support the development and learning of the preschool children.

It is our hope that we can improve practices, services and supports for the child and all involved in his care, wherever (s)he may be.

Dr Sylvia Choo
Senior Consultant, Dept. of Child Development, KK Hospital Singapore

Ms Jennifer Tan
Principal Education Psychologist, Lead for DSP Consultancy Dept. of Child Development,
KK Hospital Singapore


Today’s Vision, Tomorrow’s Reality

This panel discussion will explore the different aspects of today’s vision in the early intervention sector and how these dreams and visions may become to tomorrow’s reality. Come hear from individuals who play very diverse but critical roles in the early intervention sector in Singapore.

Dr Ilene Schwartz
Professor and Chair, Special Education, and Director of the Haring Centre for Research and Training in Education, University of Washington

Dr Dominique Phang

Dr Sylvia Choo
Senior Consultant, Dept. of Child Development, KK Hospital Singapore

Dr Kenneth Poon
Associate Professor, Early Childhood and Special Education, National Institute of Education

Early Intervention Representative:
Mr J R Karthikeyan
Senior Director, Disability and Inclusion and Allied Health Professional Group,
AWWA LTD Committee Member, Early Intervention Conference 2018, Singapore

Early Intervention Representative:
Mrs Stephenie Khoo
Deputy Executive Director, Autism Resource Centre (Singapore) Committee Member,
Early Intervention Conference 2018, Singapore

Mrs June Tham-Toh Syn Yuen
Co-chair of the inaugural Early Intervention Conference 2018, Singapore