A helping hand

By EE-LYN TANeducate@thestar.com.my 

USING his middle finger and thumb to carefully flick the pieces across the board, Syahdini Saiful Nazri is a natural at carrom.  

Grinning broadly and giving one of his friends a high-five, the 12-year-old student from Sekolah Pendidikan Khas Selangor, Shah Alam easily overcame his opponents to sweep the grand prize in the primary schoolboys hearing disability category of the game. 

Brian giving a demonstration on a piece of equipment in the sensoryintegration room with the help of therapist Jenna Tan.

Syahdini was one of 140 students from 23 schools who took part in the Petaling District Special Education Indoor Games 2007 held at SK Sri Kelana recently. 

The indoor games were carrom, checkers and congkak. 

SK Sri Kelana special education supervisor Chen Siew Chin said the competition was something the students looked forward to and some were disappointed when they did not receive a prize.  

SK Taman Medan student Fadzli Naim Che Daut carefully droppingshells into the appropriate places in the game of congkak.

According to SK (2) Sultan Alam Shah Year Six teacher Kanagambal Sinniah, a lot of preparation went into getting the students ready for the tournament. 

“We'll usually select students who have an interest in the game and get them to brush up on their skills by practising as much as they can with their classmates,” she said. 

Chen added that the students enjoyed the interaction with their peers.  

In conjunction with the event, a sensory integration room was also launched at SK Sri Kelana for its 71 special education students, aged between seven and 14. 

The room will cater to those with conditions such as autism, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. 

SI World owner Wong Shyh Shyan, who specialises in sensory integration intervention for children with special needs, designed the room after being contacted by parents from the school.  

He is now training teachers to incorporate sensory integration therapy into the curriculum through activities and use of the equipment that the school had bought. 

The room was launched by Seri Setia assemblyman Datin Paduka Seripah Noli Syed Hussin, who commended the school for taking the initiative to set up the room. 

“These special students no longer have to feel left out. They must always remember that there are many people who care about them,” she said. 

Headmistress Rohayah Sarif said parents had brought up the idea of including sensory integration into the school curriculum after sending their children to other centres for therapy.  

“Special children lack balance, and with the equipment we can address this problem,” she explained. 

Wong said the number of children with sensory integrative dysfunctions were on the rise due to the changing environment and this would create behavioural and attitude problems in the future if they were not treated at an early age. 

“Before the age of seven, it is all about developing their sensory-motor skills.  

“This is why physical education is very important as it helps children to improve their learning and behaviour through interaction and activities,” he said. 

Wong demonstrated the use of the equipment with eight-year-old Brian Lee, a student at SK Sri Kelana. 

He said the linear glider for example, was used to calm hyperactive students. 

“The child will lie down and the swinging motion from side to side will create a calming effect like being rocked in a cradle,” he said. 

However, he added, it was not for everyone as the motion could create a sense of seasickness.  

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