SENIA Connection 2018-2019 School Year Edition

Should, Would, Could, DID!

Kathryn Balsamo, Board Chairperson

As we close the book on another school year, it's easy to say "we should have, could have, and would have if...". As teachers, we are usually our biggest critics, but for a moment, let's step back and celebrate. 

What DID you do to reach that student in your class? 

How DID you use your student's ability (what they can do) to help them with what they struggled with?

How DID you raise awareness about disabilities and the fact that all individuals learn differently?

What professional development opportunity DID you attend and how DID you implement something you learned?

How DID you promote inclusion in your schools and communities?

For me at ISKL, I DID reach my students by creating meaningful opportunities for them to acquire new skills and showcase their abilities. One of my highlights was when a student of mine in our life centered education class competed in our school's Modern Biathlon. During that sport season, we worked on many executive functioning/social thinking skills, as we planned and organized what he needed week-to-week, mapped out what the event would look like, and practiced what he could say to his teammates. After the meet, he prepared an oral presentation for his grade three class to summarise what he did and persuade others to join! It's amazing what can be accomplished with our students when the material is motivating and presented in a relevant and engaging manner.

The student panel presentation at SENIA 2019, was a good reminder to me that kids remember new learning when its fun. I spent the second half of the year, ensuring that I DID connect my students' interests to their learning objectives, as it is all too easy to lose sight of this as we push through our curriculum/learning targets.

Two ways that I DID promote inclusion this year were by coordinating a K-12 celebration during Inclusive Schools Week at my school and by hosting a Twitter Chat on inclusion in my host country, Malaysia. Consider spearheading one of these initiatives in your school/country next year!

With an extended school holiday on the horizon, finish strong and enjoy the slow pace of life that will come in a few short weeks!

Inclusion in Action

International School Bangkok's InvisAbilities Club: by Phil Bowman

In their inaugural year, a club committed to inclusion at International School Bangkok is successfully making a difference and poised to help other schools do the same. The club, aptly named InvisAbilities, aims to raise awareness of and actively include and accept students that learn atypically. They have chosen to advocate for a broad range of students that include learning disabilities, physical disabilities, and students with mental health issues.

InvisAbilities had many accomplishments this year. They included students with significant needs in the Junior Special Olympics, held a sock drive which raised over $1000 for a local organization; Steps With Theera, and they heavily modified a student triathlon event to be accessible for individuals with moderate and significant needs. High school club members buddied up with students in Lori Boll’s intensive needs program and spent each Wednesday after school engaging in meaningful play and providing the children with enriching experiences. InvisAbilities raised overall awareness in the community through multiple advocacy campaigns.

The club also participated in two SENIA Thailand conferences this school year and is encouraging other schools to start their own InvisAbilities chapter. They are helping make this happen by freely sharing their event planning documents  and offering to assist any new chapters with their start-up logistics. They hope that they can soon form a SENIA Youth Thailand network as more chapters are established.

Looking to further increase their impact in the future, the students running InvisAbilities are focusing on refining the rollout of their events and creating an easy-to-implement handbook for creating InvisAbilities chapters on other campuses. The students are also planning to help host an inclusion week on their campus. Finally, InvisAbilities is planning on being a more active participant in SENIA Thailand Conferences by running local workshops from the students’ perspectives.

If you are interested in starting your own student-run inclusion club, the student leaders and teacher advisors from InvisAbilities @ International School Bangkok would love to help.

Student Officers: Alexandra Medina, Vienna Sparks & Sasin Thamakaison
Advisors: Philip Bowman & Richard Werner


Tips from our SENIA Friends: STEPS with Theera and IDS

Universal Design

In our coffee shop, we are trying to help our customers be more aware of simple and cost-effective accommodations they could make in their own environments.

The info points have been designed with the intention of being accessible for all as that is the true concept of universal design. We don't want our community to feel different or special, we want them to be able to access the world around us in the same way as everyone else.

Could you implement any of these in your school or work environment? Can you think of any others? Share them with us!

INTERNATIONAL DIAGNOSTIC SOLUTIONS (IDS):  Helping Globally Mobile Families Thrive with Special Education and Therapeutic Solutions

Working with families and schools, International Diagnostic Solutions (IDS) provides online delivery of therapy and special education services.  IDS was started in 2009 in response to the growing need for special needs resources worldwide.  What started as a few simple requests for ABA therapy in the middle east and speech therapy in Nigeria ended up as a full deployment of special education resources in homes and schools across the globe.  IDS delivers treatment and professional development in the areas of speech therapy, occupational therapy, behavior management, psychology, reading support, gifted & talented consultation, and special education.  Whether providing direct therapy with a 9 year old in the home, conducting a social skills group at a middle school, or delivering a webinar on self-regulation to an elementary ed team, our providers minimize the geographic divide by being face to face with our clients online. 

While much of our work happens throughout the school year, we know everyone looks forward to the summer break.  Who doesn’t love lazy days with no routine? Actually, for children who struggle with transitions and change (and their families), the lazy days of summer can be quite stressful. 

The IDS team put together some tips to help prepare for the summer transition, making the family holiday restful and relaxing for everyone.

5 Tips to Make the Summer Break Manageable (and fun!) with Kids with Special Needs


  1. Make a {flexible} plan

Create a proactive plan for your child and family to get the most out of your summer together time. Don’t forget to consider changes in meal times, sleeping arrangements (hotels and Grandma’s can be fun AND stressful), camp or park activities, changes in social settings, and all of the unstructured day to day fun that can happen over the summer holiday. Be especially mindful of travel stress, and discuss with your whole family how to support your child, and what you will do if they become stressed or frustrated.

  1. Communicate with family and friends about some of the things that your child does or doesn’t do (talking, eating, socializing)

Before you arrive, or upon arrival, talk with your loved ones about who your child is - their strengths, what they love, what they hate, and some things to note (maybe about their communication, behavior, and adaptive skills).

  1. Talk about your plans

Tell your loved ones you are going to be making some plans ahead of time of how to react and how to make your child feel more comfortable.  It may not look like your way of parenting, but you have a plan for a reason!

  1. Stay on schedule

This can be much easier said than done, but try and keep your child's supportive schedule as much as possible.  Don't stress too much if things get out of whack, just try to keep it going when you can, and get right back on track when things settle down again.

  1. Ask for a break when you need one!

Remember, your family and friends want nothing more than to help and support you… and to spend time with you and your family. Let them help, and give yourself a break!

For more about IDS visit  For a list of services go to


Is your organization interested in becoming a Friend of SENIA? Contact our Conference and Associations coordinator Lori Boll at

SENIA 2020 - Beyond Inclusion: Embracing the Integrated Experience

SENIA 2020 International School Manila | February 21-23

For more information go to the event website: See you there!

We are currently seeking presenters for the upcoming SENIA 2020 conference! This is a fantastic opportunity to share your knowledge and experience. 

As mentioned above, the theme is Beyond Inclusion: Embracing the Integrated Experience. The conference also has 4 topic strands: social/emotional learning, behaviors, mental health, and interventions and strategies. 

Proposals can be submitted now through the conference website. Still not sure what you could present on? Consider these presentation ideas! 

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SENIA Local Chapters

Priscilla Leighton, Local Chapter Liaison

Did you know that SENIA has expanded to include regions outside of Asia?

We are excited to report that SENIA has a regional chapter in Europe. Learn more about SENIA Europe by liking the Facebook page.

We are also working on establishing regional chapters in Africa, the Middle East, and South America. If you are moving to one of those regions next year, be sure to check SENIA's website to find out how to get connected!  

Want to start a local chapter in your region? Email

Staying Connected

How do you connect with SENIA?

Brenda Dean, Web and Media Coordinator:

Have you been to our website yet? Did you know you can find information on current local chapters, upcoming conferences, and latest updates! For information related to latest updates, local chapters, conferences, and awards, check out

Don’t forget to check out our other social media sites, including our Facebook page and Twitter accounts. On those sites, you’ll find links to research articles, inspirational quotes, professional development opportunities, and even available job postings. Make sure to share the accounts with your friends and coworkers as well!

News from our SENIA Partners


21CL is now offering  ISTE certification courses.

Find a TeachMeet in your city.

The 21st Century Learning Conference 2020 will be held in Hong Kong on March 13-14th. Themes will be Innovation, Leadership, Student Voice, EdTech, and Wellness.


EARCOS is offering close to 50 weekend workshops in various cities around the region. Check out the offerings here.

SENIA and EARCOS will collaborate in 2021 for our next joint conference. Kota we come.


NFI is offering a certificate of Inclusive International Education starting this summer.


Learning About and From Behavior

Teaching Math for Inclusion

Learning Support/EAL- collaboration for inclusion

Personalizing & Differentiating to meet student needs

Special Needs Learning in the International Schools



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SENIA Awards 2020

Tanya Farrol, SENIA Awards Coordinator

Before you know it the SENIA Advocacy and Student Award nominations season will be upon us! 

Do you know of a student or adult that is making a difference in the lives of others and raising awareness about inclusion in your community?  This is your opportunity to nominate someone who deserves recognition for all they do for others.

Go to the following link to nominate an advocate in your community:


Stay In Touch

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about SENIA. We can be reached at:

If you have a specific question, please direct your email to one of us.

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Kathryn Balsamo Chairperson


136-1 Shui Nan Road, Taichung