February, 2016:

[SENIA Inspire] Ellen meets the Dancing Starbucks Barista

This wonderful story about Sam, a person with Autism, who works in a Starbucks. Check out this inspiring inclusion story and understand why it went viral.


[Conference] SENIA Post-Conference Resources

SENIA 2016 Post ConferenceThank you for attending the #SENIA2016 #BERSATU Conference at the International School of Kuala Lumpur. It was a fruitful time of learning, sharing and networking.

We invite our delegates to visit the SENIA Post Conference webpage for resources, photos, feedback form, SUNY credit details and contact details.

Again, thank you for joining us in Malaysia and see you in Japan next year.

[Conference] Keynote Speaker Advisory

SENIA2016 Social MediaPlease be informed that around midnight on Sunday, we were informed that Dr. Sam Ortiz can no longer come to SENIA due to sudden illness.

Our organizers from ISKL have contacted Dr. Stephen Shore to come to ISKL for the conference and he kindly agreed. Dr. Shore is a professor at Adelphi University in New York and is also an adult with Autism. Dr. Shore will cover the breakout sessions for Mr. Sam Ortiz as well. We know that Dr. Shore is a highly knowledgeable and experienced speaker.

We thank you for your understanding.


[News] Meet the SENIA Advocacy Honorary Awardees 2016

The SENIA Advocacy Award is an annual search for exceptional persons or institutions who advocate for people with special needs in their community in the Asian region. The winner of the SENIA Advocacy Award for 2016 is Dato’ Dr. Amar-Singh of Malaysia.

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

Yammy Ang with a Wings Melaka graduate

Yammy Ang, SENIA Advocacy Honorary Awardee 2016, with a Wings Melaka graduate

Ms. Yammy Ang is founding member, Chairperson from 1999 to 2010 and the current Advisor of Wings Melaka, a non-profit organization that aims to provide training, counseling, support and information for children with learning disabilities and their families. Over the years, Wings Melaka has touched the lives of more than 400 children. According to a survey done in 2005, 75% of the children who underwent the Early Intervention Program successfully entered mainstream primary schools or special needs classes. Yammy Ang has also lobbied for the rights of persons with learning disabilities through UNICEF, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia and The Bar council of Malaysia. She has brought attention to the plight of the special needs community by bringing up these issues to the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.

Katherine Ho Tsui Mee

Katherine Ho Tsui Mee, SENIA Advocacy Honorary Awardee 2016

Ms. Katherine Ho Tsui Mee is the Founder, Chairperson and Director of Services for Special Needs of Bright Stars Special Needs Charity Association. Bright Star is a non-profit organization which provides outreach programs for learning disabilities  special needs children, teens and adults. The organization provides training towards work independence, income sustainability, self-help, living skills among others. Katherine advocates to ensure that the special needs community are included in community building by providing job opportunities and financial assistance for start-ups. Her efforts in engaging organizations in improving the lives of persons with special needs are shown through her productive programs on social entrepreneurship and job creation.  Her advocacy work has allowed her to represent Malaysia in various national and international exchanges about special needs.

Dayal Nandwani, SENIA Honorary Advocacy Awardee 2016

Dayal Nandwani, SENIA Advocacy Honorary Awardee 2016

Mr. Dayal Nandwani is the inspiring man behind Stepping Stone, a school that caters to the special needs children in the Philippines. From its beginnings as a Rotary Club project, Stepping Stone has become one of the most respected special education schools in the country. Dayal was able to raise funds to support the operations of the school and even provide scholarships to students with special learning needs who would otherwise have no access to special needs programs. He was also able to secure grants for a pre-vocational course for adult students. The programs offered in Stepping Stone has become a benchmark for other schools to emulate. Dayal also emphasizes advocacy for special needs. He is a member of the Autism Society of the Philippines, Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines, Council for Exceptional Children, and SEAMEO among others. Dayal’s passionate vision for special needs is shown through his hard work and tenacity.

Larry Aguirre, SENIA Honorary Advocacy Awardee 2016

Larry Aguirre, SENIA Advocacy Honorary  Awardee 2016

Mr. Laureano “Larry” Aguirre is a full-time classroom assistant at One World School Philippines. As a person who has special needs himself, Larry has successfully transitioned from being a special needs student to a special needs teaching assistant. As a role model of a gainfully employed person with special needs, Larry has become an inspiration for those he serves ad those he works with. To get an idea of how Larry inspires, watch this video.

SENIM Board, SENIA Honorary Advocacy Awardees 2016

SENIM Board, SENIA Advocacy Honorary Awardees 2016

SENIM (SENIA Malaysia) is one of the youngest SENIA chapters in Asia. In just three years, SENIM has achieved high respect for their efforts in raising awareness and encouraging collaboration in Malaysia. The work that the SENIM Board initiated is significant in building a network of parents, teachers, special needs practitioners and other advocates for special needs. Through their conferences, coffee mornings and other events, SENIM has grown into the successful network it is today.

Congratulations to all the SENIA Honorary Advocacy Awardees for 2016!

[Conference] Registration for SENIA 2016 Conference at ISKL closed


[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.

Im-Amar-KS Forest reserve 2011a

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!