[News] Meet the SENIA Student Honorary Awardees 2016

The SENIA Student Award is an annual search for exceptional students who advocate for special needs in Asia. The winner of the SENIA Student Award for 2016 is Tobin Zolkowski.

There are many excellent nominees who also received the SENIA Student Honorary Award citation. It is our privilege to present to you the other SENIA Student Award nominees who also inspire many with their lives and their advocacy. Meet the SENIA Student Honorary Award 2016 recipients.


Akasha Campbell, SENIA Student Awardee 2016

Akasha Campbell is a student of The Harbour School in Hong Kong. She was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of 10. She used to be shy and withdrawn but in a few years and with much effort on her part, Akasha has overcome many roadblocks to her learning. Surprising everyone, Akasha ran for Student Council and won the seat of Grade 5 representative. These days, Akasha continues to inspire by being an active participant in all her school subjects where she attends by herself. In August 2014, on her 12th birthday, she worked hard to give back to her community by raising funds for The Nisbett Center, an adult care organization in Hong Kong. She cooked 27 dishes for the volunteers in the Center and raised over HKD15,000 for the Center. According to Dr. Jeremy Greenberg, one of her supporters, “In over 20 years as a special educator, consultant and director of schools in New York and Hong Kong, I have rarely observed the type of progress and resilience Akasha Campbell brings to the school everyday. She is a truly remarkable student.”


Dylan Winter, SENIA Student Honorary Awardee 2016

Dylan Winter, SENIA Student Honorary Awardee 2016

Dylan Winter is a true pillar of advocacy. After many years of struggling, he personally approached the support department of his school, The International School of Macao, to seek assessment for suspected dyslexia. Since his formal diagnosis a year ago, Dylan has encouraged others to be assessed. He is very open about seeking assessment and accepts the challenges of meeting academic demands with minimal accommodations such as extra time, preferred examination environment and occasionally reduced quantity. He has achieved honor roll marks on his report card. These days, Dylan serves as a student mentor and helps other students with special needs.

Liesel Allen, SENIA Student Honorary Awardee 2016

Liesel Allen, SENIA Student Honorary Awardee 2016



Liesel Allen is an inspiring student who has ulna deficiency where one of her arms is significantly shorter than the other. She is an active member of the community who never shies from engaging people around her in conversations about her disability. Her TEDx talk entitled “#onehandedproblems” received more than 2,000 hits on YouTube. The Director of Athletics in her school expressed that Liesel is a hardworking member of the International School of Kuala Lumpur Swimming Team and that “She is a model of persistence and resilience, and sets an excellent example for other students.” Liesel has truly inspired her entire school community with her hard work and creativity.


Reed Santos, SENIA Honorary Student Awardee 2016

Reed Santos, SENIA Honorary Student Awardee 2016

Reed Santos is a student of the International School Manila who had struggled with reading and writing for many years. Still, he is the type of student who advocates for himself, works hard and perseveres. Despite his challenges in reading fluency, Reed actively participated in the Grade 6 Book Club. He used active reading skills to improve his comprehension, engagement and enjoyment of reading. As a result of his perseverance, his current skills reveal that he has overcome his literacy issues with a high level of achievement. As stated on his nomination form, “Reed has become a great asset to classes and the school community as a whole as he demonstrates perseverance, hard work and role model behavior.”

Congratulations to our inspiring SENIA Honorary Student Award winners! May you continue to inspire others with your victorious stories.

[Conference] SENIA 2016 Pre-Conference Registration closed

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[News] Dato’ Dr. Amar-Singh wins SENIA Advocacy Award 2016

2Dato’ Dr. Amar-Singh of Malaysia is the SENIA Advocacy Award winner for 2016. The SENIA Advocacy Award celebrates the achievements of a student, adult or group who encourages awareness and advocates for the aspirations of people with disabilities. The award honors those who exemplify the vision mission of SENIA, which is to advocate in behalf of exceptional people in Asia.

Dato’ Dr. Amar-Singh is an exceptional man who has dedicated his life to working with persons with disabilities. For the past 25 years, Dato’ Dr. Amar-Singh has tirelessly worked with children and parents of various types of disabilities. He is the current president of the National Early Children Intervention Council (NECIC) in Malaysia, the senior consultant, community paediatrician and head of the paediatric department of the Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun in Ipoh and the head of the Clinical Research Centre in Perak state.

Dato’ Dr. Amar-Singh’s advocacy for special needs spans many fruitful years. He has initiated and developed registered associations for people with disabilities including the National Early Childhood Intervention Council (NECIC), the Association of the Network for the Needs of Children with Disabilities, and Pertubuham Ibu Bapa Kanak Kanak Keperluan Instimewa Sarawak. He has also initiated informal family support groups for various disabilities including Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Dato’ Dr. Amar-Singh’s committed work has made him a respected expert and consultant for various international organizations. He has participated in dialogues with senior officials from the Ministry of Education in Malaysia and UNICEF.

His life work is truly remarkable and an inspiration to special education practitioners worldwide.

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Congratulations, Dato’ Dr. Amar-Singh!
Dato’ Dr. Amar-Singh with his lovely wife.

[News] Tobin Zolkowski wins SENIA Student Award 2016

1Tobin Zolkowski, a student of Jakarta International School (JIS), is the winner of the SENIA Student Award 2016. The SENIA Student Award honors a student with a disability who excels and advocates for the aspirations of children and youth with disabilities in Asia.

Tobin is a strong advocate for the Deaf community. As the only student in his school with a hearing disability, Tobin actively worked to break down barriers and raise awareness for the Deaf. He advocates for himself by standing in front of an assembly of 900 during his first day of 10th grade. He shared his story and encouraged students to interact with him and learn a few signs to communicate with him. He founded an American Sign Language club for students and teachers, which attracted more than 90 members in its first year. He has provided American Sign Language translation for two eBooks which are available commercially including Alistair the Armadillo and Aste the Slowest CheetahTobin is also creating an online course to teach Indonesian Sign Language. Further advancing his advocacy, Tobin serves as an ASL interpreter during workshops with the National Association of the Deaf.

Tobin’s strength of character and advocacy has inspired those around him. A classmate said: “I am so thankful I’ve known Tobin as a classmate and friend for the past 5 years. I’ve come to learn how natural it is to be around someone who speaks sign language and how much he can teach others. He has helped me understand that just because someone
is different, it doesn’t mean they don’t have something important to offer.” One of his teachers expressed that: “Tobin’s resilience, dedication and advocacy are second to none.”

Congratulations Tobin Zolkowski! We look forward to meeting you at SENIA 2016 at the International School Kuala Lumpur!

[Chapter News] SENIA Japan to hold first annual conference!

SENIA Japan will be holding its first annual conference on April 30, 2016 at the Canadian Academy, Kobe Japan. We encourage all special educators to attend this historic event!


[PD] Asia Pacific Dyslexia Conference (DYSCON 2016)

DYSCON 2016: Developing Diverse Minds!
Dyslexia is one of the most common learning difficulties encountered by students, parents and educators in the world today with somewhere between one in twenty and one in ten people experiencing some form of Dyslexia. So by any measures this is an extremely important topic!
The Dyslexia Association of Hong Kong (DAHK) is committed to identifying best practice and excellence in research in SEN and to making this available to educators and parents living in Hong Kong and the wider region.
Educators and parents who come to the Asia Pacific Dyslexia Conference (DYSCON) will learn from, and interact with, leading academics in the field. They will also hear from and engage with experienced teacher practitioners about the impact of dyslexia and learning within the classroom setting, and beyond. The conference will take place from 21 – 22 May, 2016 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
SENIA Disclaimer: SENIA aims to inform special education advocates and practitioners about available professional development opportunities. SENIA does not formally endorse the seminars and conferences cited here. You are encouraged to review the full information depending on your development needs.

[Conference] SENIA 2016 features Dr. Peg Dawson


We are excited to announce that Dr. Peg Dawson, school psychologist and co-author of “Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents” and “Coaching Students with Executive Skills Weaknesses” will be one of the keynote speakers during the annual Special Education Network in Asia Conference.

Dr. Peg Dawson will be speaking on “Lazy and Unmotivated: Why Parents and Teachers Need to Know about Executive Skills”.

For more information about SENIA 2016, visit the official conference website. Registration is ongoing for interested participants.

[Conference] SENIA 2016 features Dr. Sam Ortiz


We are excited to announce that Dr. Sam Ortiz of St. John’s University, New York, will be one of the keynote speakers during the annual Special Education Network in Asia Conference.

Dr. Sam Ortiz will be speaking on “When Languages Collide: An Insider’s View on the Education of Second Language Learners”.

For more information about SENIA 2016, visit the official conference website. Registration is ongoing for interested participants.

[Conference] SENIA 2016 features Julia Cook


We are excited to announce that Ms. Julia Cook, award-winning book author, will be one of the keynote speakers during the annual Special Education Network in Asia Conference.

Julia Cook will be speaking on “Unlearning Helplessness: Motivating the Underachiever”.

For more information about SENIA 2016, visit the official conference website. Registration is ongoing for interested participants.

[Conference] Call for SENIA 2016 Workshop Proposals Extended!


[Update] Call for Proposals is now Closed.

It is not too late to submit workshop proposals for SENIA 2016! Organizers from International School Kuala Lumpur has extended the deadline for submission to October 31, 2015.

SENIA 2016 Online Proposal Form

The thirteenth annual SENIA 2016 conference will be held at the International School Kuala Lumpur Melawati Campus. The pre-conference will take place on Thursday, 25 February, with the conference proper on Friday, 26 February and Saturday, 27 February.

The three strands of the SENIA 2016 Conference are:
  • Assessment with Diverse Populations
  • Social Emotional Well-Being of Students
  • Executive Functioning
These three strands will be presented by three keynotes who have been confirmed. Dr. Samuel Ortiz will be the keynote speaker for assessment with diverse populations. Julia Cook will be speaking about social emotional well-being of students and finally Dr. Peg Dawson is our keynote speaker for executive functioning strand.