Speakers’ Profiles


Mrs June Tham-Toh Syn Yuen

Co-chair of the inaugural Early Intervention Conference 2018, Singapore

The former Executive Director of Rainbow Centre Singapore, Mrs June Tham-Toh Syn Yuen has been a part of a generation in the evolution and development of the special needs landscape in Singapore for more than three decades. Graduated with a Master of Education and completed training in autism and early intervention in the US, she has also acquired certifications in the WSQ Advanced Certificate in Training & Assessment (ACTA), Improving Services through Programme Evaluation, and Serving Leader Facilitator by the Newton Institute, USA. In 2008, she was awarded the inaugural Singapore Totalisator Board overseas scholarship to attend the ‘Strategic Perspectives in Non-Profit Management’ at the Harvard Business School in Boston, USA. In 2016, she received the Social Service Fellowship Award from the Ministry of Social & Family Development in recognition of her specialization and her contributions to the social service sector. She has also served on committees related to special needs and the sector, and presented as a speaker at national and regional platforms. To promote awareness and education on special needs, Mrs Tham has co-authored and co-edited publications on issues related to special needs.

Today, Mrs Tham not only engages herself actively as a volunteer, she is also an Associate Trainer/Supervisor/Consultant with training institutions sharing her insights and extensive experiences to inspire present and future generations of leaders and professionals in the social service sector as well as in the region. Her other appointments include the Implementation Advisory Panel to study the implementation of compulsory education for children with special education needs under the Ministry of Education, Panel Advisor with the Youth Court and the Committee on Fostering with the Ministry of Social & Family Development, Leadership Development Selection Panel with National Council of Social Service, and as Board of Visitor with the Public Guardian Office.

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Professor Ho Lai-Yun

Co-chair of the inaugural Early Intervention Conference 2018, Singapore

Professor Ho Lai Yun is Emeritus Consultant, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), Singapore Health Services (SingHealth); Professor, Duke-NUS Medical School and Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore (NUS). Professor Ho set up the Department of Neonatology at SGH in 1986, stepping down as its founding head in 2004. Besides establishing neonatology as a paediatric subspecialty in Singapore, he also pioneered congenital hypothyroidism and universal neonatal hearing screening as a nation-wide programme in Singapore, both conditions were significant causes for life-long disabilities before.

In 1988, under the Advisory Council on the Disabled, he set up the Development Assessment Clinic at SGH, which became the Child Development Unit when the new KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital opened in 1997. In 2002, he was appointed the Director of the expanded, cross-clusters Child Development Programme of the Ministry of Health (MOH), which he continues to lead till today.

He spearheaded many initiatives in integrating medical care, early childhood intervention and education, social and community support, in partnership with the families, to build an inclusive early intervention ecosystem in Singapore. He received the Outstanding Clinician Mentor Award from MOH and the National Day Public Service Star (BBM) in 2010.

He has been Vice-Chairman, Singapore Children’s Society, since 2002. He has also served as Board Member of SPD since 2012. He was Board Member, National Council of Social Service 2004-10, and has been in its Services Committee since 2003 till today. He co-chairs the Voluntary Welfare Organisations-Charities Capability Fund (VCF) Panel since 2008. He currently chairs the Advisory Panel on Early Childhood Intervention, Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), and received the Outstanding Volunteer Award from MSF in 2015. He has been in the Advisory Board of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences of Ngee Ann Polytechnic since 2011.

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Ms Chia Yong Yong, PBM

President, SPD
Nominated Member of Parliament

Ms Chia Yong Yong is President of SPD, an organisation that helps persons with disabilities, and a practising lawyer at her own law firm, Chia Yong Yong Law Corporation. Her contributions to the social service sector span nearly three decades. She was conferred the President’s Social Service Award in 2011 and the Public Service Medal in 2013. In 2014 and for a second term in 2016, Yong Yong was sworn in as a Nominated Member of Parliament, a role she hopes will enable her to bring issues such as the challenges faced by persons with disabilities and the social service sector, and the need to build greater understanding and acceptance of differences, to the fore. She also serves on the Board of SG Enable, and is a member of the Committee on the Future Economy, the 3rd Enabling Masterplan, the Compulsory Education Advisory Panel and the Tote Board Charity (Social Service) Sub-Committee.


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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

Dr Ilene Schwartz is a professor and chair in the Area of Special Education at the University of Washington and the Director of the Haring Centre for Research and Training in Education at UW. She earned her Ph.D. in child and developmental psychology from the University of Kansas and is a board certified behaviour analyst (BCBA-D). Dr Schwartz has an active research and professional training agenda with primary interests in the area of autism, inclusive education, and the sustainability of educational interventions. She has had consistent funding from the U.S. Department of Education since 1990 and serves on a number of editorial review boards including the Topics in Early Childhood Special Education and the Journal of Early Intervention. Dr Schwartz is the director of Project DATA, a model preschool program for children with autism that has been in operation since 1997; and is currently involved in research projects examining the efficacy of the Project DATA model with toddlers and pre-schoolers with autism.

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Dr Xie Huichao

Research Scientist, Education and Cognitive Development Lab, National Institute of Education

Dr Xie Huichao is a Research Scientist from the Education and Cognitive Development Lab, Office of Education Research at the National Institute of Education (NIE). She is a licensed early interventionist in Oregon, U.S., and has completed her Ph.D. at the University of Oregon, under the supervision of Dr. Jane Squires and Dr. Diane Bricker. Huichao’s research projects in Singapore focus on early detection of developmental disabilities and delays, and evaluating the effectiveness of early childhood intervention practices and programs. She has 15 years of experiences providing educational interventions for young children with disabilities and their families.


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Dr Kenneth Poon

Associate Professor, Early Childhood and Special Education, National Institute of Education

Dr Kenneth Poon is Associate Professor of Early Childhood and Special Education at the National Institute of Education where he also serves concurrently as Associate Dean (Research Quality). He has over twenty years of experience working with individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families in various capacities as an early interventionist, clinical psychologist, and a special education consultant. Dr Kenneth is also an active researcher focusing his research on life course studies of individuals with developmental disabilities. In particular, he has just led the FACES, a six-year government-commissioned study of children in EIPIC centres, to completion. Aligned with his experience, Dr Kenneth adopts a lifespan and ecological approach in framing research, which has focused largely on individuals with autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disabilities, as well as quality of life. He has also published quite substantially on instrument development. Apart from his research, Dr Kenneth has extensive experience conducting and consulting in research projects in both government agencies as well as in philanthropic organizations. He also serves on the Board of Rainbow Centre, Singapore, as well as Mamre Oaks LLC, both of which provide services for individuals with developmental disabilities.

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Dr Lim Chun Yi

Senior Occupational Therapist, Dept. of Child Development, KK Hospital Singapore

Dr Lim Chun Yi is an experienced senior occupational therapist who has been working with children with developmental needs and their families at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (Department of Child Development). She graduated from McMaster University in Canada with a PhD in Rehabilitation Science. She has published in international peer-reviewed journals and is a recipient of international scholarships and local research awards. She holds a joint appointment position as an Assistant Professor at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT). She is also the President of the Singapore Association of Occupational Therapists (SAOT) Council and sits on the National OT Conference Scientific Committee. She is currently involved in several community and research projects that involve providing intervention for families with children with autism in their homes, developing a child outcome summary process for early intervention centres and exploring the clinical centres and exploring the clinical utility of an assessment tool.

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Mr Johnny Tan

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

Mr Johnny Tan is a Principal Occupational Therapist with the Department of Child Development at KK Hospital Singapore. Mr Johnny’s expertise is drawn from 23 years of experience both in the Rehabilitative Services for children with congenital diseases and traumatic injuries, and also early intervention services for children with developmental challenges. He has participated in the baseline study for EIPIC centres since 2009, and has been actively supporting the capability and capacity building of the EIPIC sector as a consultant in the EIPIC Consultancy. Over the past nine years, he has worked with six different EIPIC organisations, and has contributed in the collaboration with nine EIPIC centres from these organisations, working closely with various EIPIC teams in enhancing the EIPIC centres’ processes and practices. Mr Johnny was also involved in the development of the functional outcome measure system for pilot in one EIPIC centre, and was instrumental in initiating the development of a localized age appropriate referencing system for use with the measurement system. He is the co-author of the EIPIC Consultancy Recommended Practices for Early Intervention in Singapore that is being developed. This landmark publication consolidates the collaborative efforts between EIPIC Consultancy and the various EIPIC organisations. It aims to provide a foundation for the EIPIC sector to build further on evidence-based practices, leading to greater child and family outcomes.

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Ms Low Hwee San

Divisional Director, THK EIPIC Centre

Ms Low Hwee San is the Divisional Director of THK EIPIC Centre, a subsidiary of Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities which provides early intervention for over 800 children with special needs yearly. She is a passionate educator with 20 years of experience spanning leadership positions in both mainstream and VWO settings. Her multi-disciplinary background includes a Postgraduate Diploma in Education from the National Institute of Education, Bachelor of Science (with Honours in Chemistry) from the National University of Singapore and a Masters in Art Therapy from LASALLE College of the Arts. Most recently, she has worked with THK EIPIC Centre’s trans-disciplinary team in partnership with KKH and Lien Foundation to develop and implement ECHO, a holistic and functional child assessment, engagement, intervention and outcome measurement framework.

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Dr Sylvia Choo

Senior Consultant, Dept. of Child Development, KK Hospital Singapore

Dr Sylvia Choo is a senior paediatrician working at the Department of Child Development, KK Women’s & Children’s Hospital, Singapore. She trained at the Centre for Community Child Health at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne in 2003, and was a member of a team awarded a Ministry of Health team fellowship in 2016, looking at integration and continuity of care for children presenting with developmental and behavioural issues, at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, UNC at Chapel Hill. Her interests are in family-centred care, working with parents including parent-mediated intervention, and the integration and right-siting of care and early intervention for children with developmental needs. She is currently also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore, Clinical Lecturer in Paediatrics, Yong Loo Lin SOM, NUS, and Clinical Teacher/Content Expert at Lee Kong Chian SOM, NTU.

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Ms Jennifer Tan

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

Ms Jennifer Tan Huey Li is an Educational Psychologist in the Department of Child Development, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital. As the lead of the consultancy team, she develops and facilitates implementation activities in rolling out a national program. Her research interest involves inclusion and supports for children with additional needs in Singapore.

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Dr Dominique Phang


Dr Dominique Phang is a mother of two boys with autism who have gone through the early intervention program in their pre-school years. Her older boy is adapting well to the rigours of mainstream primary school curriculum, and her younger boy enjoys small-group learning in a special education school. Together with her husband, she is active in advocacy and fundraising efforts in the autism sector through their family movement “Daniel & Ethan Run for Autism”. She is a practicing family physician by profession and is also the chairperson of Ohana (special needs) Ministry in Sengkang Methodist Church.

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Mr J R Karthikeyan

Senior Director, Disability and Inclusion and Allied Health Professional Group,
AWWA LTD Committee Member, Early Intervention Conference 2018, Singapore

Mr J R Karthikeyan (Karthik) joined AWWA as an Occupational Therapist in 2007, and subsequently took on management role in overseeing the operations and development of several programmes for children to adults with special needs in AWWA, which includes Early Intervention Centre, Development Support Programme, Community Integration Service, Special Student Care Centre, Personal Care Service (Disability), Personal Care Service Plus (Disability) and Allied Health Professional Group (serving both social and Health Sector). He is the main driver in expanding disability support services, piloting new and upcoming programmes – Kindle Garden (Singapore’s first inclusive preschool), Adult Disability Home & Day Care Centre (2020). AWWA has recently opened two new Early Intervention Centres and expanded its Hougang centre.

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Mrs Stephenie Khoo

Deputy Executive Director, Autism Resource Centre (Singapore) Committee Member,
Early Intervention Conference 2018, Singapore

Mrs Stephenie Khoo is currently the Deputy Executive Director of Autism Resource Centre (Singapore). She was previously the Principal of ARC(S)’s WeCAN Early Intervention Programme (EIP) and continues to oversee the programme in her current role. The WeCAN Early Intervention Programme has an intervention and curriculum arm focusing on the development of a nation-wide scalable autism curriculum for young children with autism. The programme has achieved global accreditation status by the National Autistic Society of the United Kingdom since 2008 and continues to be re-accredited to date.

Aside to more than 20 years of experience in special needs intervention and education, Mrs Khoo also has a Bachelor in Arts, a Post Graduate Bachelor in Special Education and a Masters in Applied Psychology (Educational Psychology).

Aside to the Early Intervention Programme, Stephenie also oversees other programmes at the Autism Resource Centre (Singapore) including their Autism Intervention, Training and Consultancy Division.

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