Special Education in Beijing, Coming together

The Special Education Network in Beijing (SENIB) held its 6th conference on November 17th. The conference was hosted by Beijing City School at its Early Childhood Center. The participants represented several schools and organizations who provide services to children and adults with special education needs. Please read the SENIB Newsletter for a  full recap of the event –  SENIB Newsletter.

[Conference] SENIA Singapore holds Spring Conference 2017

On April 22nd 2017, SENIA Singapore held its second successful full day conference at the Stamford American International School.

The theme of the day was ‘Cultivating Collective Responsibility’. Over one hundred attendees were present from a variety of local and international institutions. The day started with a keynote address from Dr Eric Sands about creating inclusive cultures. Following this was two rounds of workshops, followed by panel discussions in the afternoon. The sessions were presented from a wide variety of people representing various centres and schools in Singapore and covered a range of relevant, pertinent topics. At the completion of the day, SENIA Singapore presented its inaugural Advocacy Award to Dr Roby Marcou. Dr Marcou has been actively involved in supporting students with special educational needs in Asia for many years. Stamford American International School hosted the event and the facilities and staff there enabled the attendees to have an enjoyable, smoothly run day. We would like to thank everyone for making the day a success and we look forward to seeing you at our next event!

Story and Photos by Contributor: Karli Koning

[Course] Executive Functioning and the Teenage Brain

Great news! One of SENIA’s Board Members Lori Boll has successfully designed an online class entitled “Executive Functioning and the Teenage Brain” through 21st Century Learning.  

Click the video below for an overview of Lori’s class. 


For those interested in taking this online class, visit “Executive Functioning and the Teenage Brain” at the 21st Century Learning website. 

[News] Benilde Lights It Up Blue for World Autism Awareness Month

De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, an inclusive college in Manila Philippines, held a Light It Up Blue (LIUB) event on April 3, 2017 at their iconic School of Design and Arts building at P. Ocampo St., Manila. 

The event was organized by Benilde’s Center for Inclusive Education (CIE). A short program started at 645PM with welcoming remarks from Dr. Catherine Deen, CIE Director followed by an inspiring message by Br. Dennis Magbanua, FSC, Benilde President. The LIUB ceremony was launched by a Benilde Bachelor of Arts in Animation student Mr. Ramon Tan. An excerpt of his speech is quoted below:

“As a student of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, it warms my heart that we are one with the world tonight in celebrating this event. Truly, we are on our way to a more inclusive community. It is with great gratitude that I stand here before you as a student who has experienced the passion and dedication of Benilde in creating an inclusive learning environment. May this gesture of lighting up our school’s facade not just serve as a decoration but a way of instilling in our hearts awareness and empathy for all those people living with autism everywhere.”

The President of the Autism Society of the Philippines Ms. Mona Magno Veluz graced the event and she mentioned that Benilde is the first school in the Philippines to hold a Light It Up Blue event. 


[News] Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for ISB’s Intensive Learning Needs Program


On Tuesday, February 28th, honored guest Khun Ploypailin Jensen, granddaughter of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, presided over a ribbon cutting ceremony for ISB’s new Intensive Learning Needs Classroom. Students enrolled in this program will begin school in August of 2017.

The first intensive learning needs classroom will be taught by special educator Lori Boll, and will cater to six elementary-school aged students. In coming years, we will open a Middle School and High School classroom, taking students from PreK through graduation at ISB. The program is designed for students with developmental or intellectual disabilities such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, cerebral palsy, and Down’s Syndrome, or global developmental delays.

Mr. Andrew Davies, Head of School, International School of Bangkok

ISB has been working towards becoming a more inclusive school for more than 5 years. In January 2016, the Board of Trustees approved the founding of an Intensive Learning Needs program at ISB, based on the belief that families that wish to work abroad should have access to an education that meets the needs of all of their children, and that siblings should be able to attend school together as often as possible. We believe that our community will be enriched by the inclusion of more diverse learners.

The ribbon cutting ceremony was attended by over 100 guests including foreign dignitaries, officials and representatives from various schools and agencies in the area. The food was catered by Steps With Theera, a coffee shop and vocational training center which supports young adults with special education needs transition to sustainable employment opportunities.

This event would not have happened without the hard work of many people. We wish to extend a thank you everyone who helped with the event. The Thai PTA team, ISB PTA, and ISB Building and Grounds were instrumental in planning the event. Khun Rarin Punjarungroj donated cut-outs to explain the learning that will take place. ISB students from the HS Graphic Design club created informational signs and Middle School Best Buddies helped welcome the visitors.

Students, staff, and families at ISB are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our new students. Natalia Yepes, a grade 7 student is particularly excited, “ I think that both the students with special needs and the other kids from ISB will benefit from this. The kids coming won’t be isolated and they will interact with the ISB community and be with students from ISB for friends and help. Students from ISB will learn about them. They will learn about acceptance…”.

In the next several months, multiple awareness campaigns will take place at school to help current students learn about their new schoolmates. Tips on how to introduce this with your own children will be provided to parents as well.

ISB is proud to join the ranks of just a few international schools in the world with such a program, and excited about the options it will provide for families of students with special needs.

Article contributed by Lori Boll

[News] Best Buddies launch at International School Bangkok

“A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey left inside.“

                                                                                                          ― Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh understands the importance of friendship. Everyone needs a friend,  and that is why a new club was formed in the International School Bangkok (ISB) middle school this year. ISB Best Buddies started in October. It’s mission: to spread awareness of students with special needs, advocate for their rights, and to form everlasting friendships between students with needs and those without.

Best Buddies International was originally started by Anthony K. Shriver in 1989 to foster one-to-one friendships between people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Their website, www.bestbuddies.org boasts that “Best Buddies is the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with IDD.” International chapters of Best Buddies have popped up around the world as more and more people connect to the importance of such an organization.

ISB Best Buddies have worked to accomplish many things this year. The first is to spread awareness. The group has started a campaign to end the “R-word” (retarded) when used to describe silly or goofy actions by others. This word is used by many and it is offensive to people who have intellectual disabilities and their families. The culminating event for this campaign will be in late March at a middle school assembly. ISB Middle School students will be encouraged to take a pledge to end the “R-word” and signify that pledge by wearing a wrist-band. The next major project is to spread the word about Autism Awareness month, which is coming up in April.

The Best Buddies group has a major role in opening up the new Intensive Needs classroom at ISB, opening in August of 2017. They helped put together work tasks, cut out piles of visuals, and created sensory calming bottles for the new students. There is much more work to be done and the buddies are up for the task.

Many of our Best Buddies also helped with the Special Olympics event that was held here in November. Several others participated in the ServICE convention and three of our members presented about our club in front of an audience of over 300 students and teachers.

Next school year, Best Buddies will open up to the entire school. We will have six new students in our intensive needs program, and our current students are excited to interact and forge new friendships with the incredible students coming our way. Hannah Merritt, one of our 7th grade Buddies exclaims, “I can’t wait to meet these kids!”

Neither can the rest of us.

Article Contributed by Lori Boll

Initially Published in “Mission.” Best Buddies International. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.

[Conference] SENIA 2017 Japan Post Conference Page Now Available!

Thank you for attending the #YISSENIA2017 #SENIAINJAPAN Conference at the Yokohama International School Japan. It was a fruitful time of learning, sharing and networking.

We invite our delegates to visit the SENIA 2017 Post Conference webpage for certificates, photos and feedback form. The password was provided during the conference closing ceremonies.

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

[News] Meet the SENIA Honorary Student Awardees 2017

The SENIA Student Award is search for exceptional students who advocate for special needs in Asia. The winner of the SENIA Student Award for 2017 is Casey Stevenson.

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 advocacy. Meet the SENIA Student Honorary Award 2017 recipients.

johnnepJohn V. Nepomuceno
is a college student from the University of Santo Tomas Philippines. Before his formal ADHD diagnosis, John experienced challenges including hyperactivity, lack of focus and poor executive functioning. He faced academic failures and challenges in learning. After undergoing his therapies, John has overcome his challenges and has learned strategies that address his needs. As an advocate for ADHD, John has spoken in high profile events including those sponsored by the Occupational Therapy Association of the Philippines and the ADHD Society of the Philippines. John’s heart to help other learners with special needs drove him to enroll in the William Glasser Institute where he garnered a certification of Basic Intensive Training in Choice Therapy, Reality Therapy and Lead Management. His leadership abilities shone through during his campaign to be the Auditor for the Student Council. John’s positive influence in his college is commendable.

kanKan Jiraphongtrakul is a student-athlete from Concordian International School Thailand. Diagnosed with dyslexia, Kan experienced difficulties in reading, writing, spelling, short-term memory, time management, organization and mathematics. Still, with hardwork and perseverance, Kan is enrolled in the full IB diploma program. Kan is also an exceptional athlete and has won the coveted Most Valuable Player accolade in the areas of volleyball and basketball. Kan advocated for dyslexia through a community program he initiated called “Can You Read Me?”, a treasure hunt for primary students and their parents allowing them to empathize with people with dyslexia. 



Nathan Marcus V. Canon is a student diagnosed with bilateral, profound, sensorineural hearing loss. Due to his condition, his speech developed late and was imperfect. Nathan advocates for learners with similar condition as his. He speaks to students, parents and educators about his experiences. He visited Singapore to speak on his experiences with hearing implants for an audience of parents and children at the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Nathan is also a creative student. His artwork was selected to be part of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Artlink 2008-2009 exhibition entitled “Windows: Looking in, Looking out”. Nathan’s leadership is exhibited by his election as class representative during his grade school years and now as Treasurer of the Student Council. Nathan also volunteers as an artist for Teach Peace Build Peace Foundation’s storybook project. If these accomplishments are not inspiring enough, Nathan also learned to play musical instruments such as guitar and the keyboard in spite of his hearing loss.   (more…)

[News] Meet the SENIA Advocacy Honorary Winners 2017

The SENIA Advocacy Award is a search for exceptional persons or institutions who advocate for people with special needs in the Asia. The winner of the SENIA Advocacy Award for 2017 is Rhodora Palomar Fresnedi of the Philippines.

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 2017 recipients.

aventajadoMichelle Ressa Aventajado is a mom blogger, special needs advocate and Country Director of Best Buddies PhilippinesBest Buddies is an international movement that aims to develop one to one friendships between persons with disabilities and persons without disabilities. The program allows all people to feel included and valued as a member of society. As Country Director of Best Buddies Philippines, Michelle has worked tirelessly with numerous institutions to promote inclusion. During the last Best Buddies Leadership Conference in the United States, the Philippines was the largest international group represented. Michelle’s advocacy reaches farther than her work in Best Buddies, though. Considered a gamechanger in the area of education, Michelle is an inspiration to many. Her successful blog, MommaNManila, covers topics such as parenting and special needs. Michelle’s inspiration is close to her heart as she hopes to build an inclusive world for her lovely daughter, Gelli, who was born with Down Syndrome. Be inspired by the work that she does by watching this video, “End the R Word“.

maurerUwe Maurer is the Director and Co-Founder of Taiwan Sunshine, a non-profit organization that aims to bring hope and support to families with special needs children in Taiwan. The main program of Taiwan Sunshine is the Hero Games, a sports program that connects national public schools with special needs students to create an inclusive environment that fosters friendships, team spirit and acceptance. Through a volunteer and school partnership system, the Hero Games provide opportunities for everyone including school administrators, students, teachers, parents and support staff to contribute to the event. It is incredible to witness the Hero Games where participants may be in wheelchairs, have leg braces, or other types of assistive supports and are able to join the sports events. Indeed, Taiwan Sunshine advocates for those who are excluded.  To learn more about Taiwan Sunshine and assist in their work, visit their official website and view this video (more…)

[News] SENIM holds 3rd Annual Conference

On November 12, 2016 SENIM (Special Education Network in Malaysia) held its 3rd annual conference at IGB International School in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The theme was “Unlocking the Keys to Learning” and the conference included three strands –  Technology, Looking at Learning, and Social Emotional.

The conference was attended by 103 delegates, which included professionals and parents from in and around Kuala Lumpur. As participants arrived at the venue they were treated to a musical performance by Abigail Ang. Abigail is a 14 year old young lady with autism who has an amazing talent playing the piano. Following this performance were three short motivational sessions designed to inspire the conference participants. These included a young man with dyslexia sharing his educational journey, a classroom teacher sharing her perspective on the gift of inclusion, and a school counselor reminding us to be mindful throughout the conference. (more…)