Category Archives: Uncategorized

Resource Fair April 6, 2019 at ISM

[Save the Date] SENIA Parents Conference “Parenting the Exceptional Child”

SENIA Parents Date

[SENIA Youth] Turning Difficulties into Possibilities

Clara Peterson

Clara Pettersen, The Philippine Star Beauty Columnist

The SENIA Manila Youth Chapter aims to advocate and inspire teachers and the community about the gifts and abilities of students with special education needs.

Clara Pettersen, one of the advocates of SENIA Manila Youth Chapter shares her personal experience as a student with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Dyslexia. Read about her experiences in her own words.

As my teacher asked me to read the first page of the book aloud, I stared at each word carefully; I pronounced every single sound of every single word in my head. However, the words slowly turned into waves. This led me to wonder about pirates, mermaids, and a new world where the sea was black!

Before I knew it, my teacher asked me, “So Clara, what did you just read?”

I replied, “I have no idea.”

At the age of five, my whole family moved from Hong Kong to Manila after realizing I had late speech development. I guess staying in a country, where English, Filipino, Chinese and Norwegian were all spoken, confused my infant brain. In Manila, I still wasn’t able to speak and my parents noticed I was markedly different from all the other kids in my family; I would communicate through sounds, drawings and actions—but never in words. This was the time my parents took me to a doctor who thought that I had autism.  My mom refused to believe this, so we went to America and there, I was diagnosed with severe speech developmental delay. After I learned how to talk, I couldn’t shut up. We discovered that I had ADHD.  At the age of eight, I was diagnosed with dyslexia.

Growing up, I always felt like an outcast. I would be so angry and frustrated, wondering why things that I had found difficult to do were so easy for everybody else. I felt so stupid, especially when people would bully me when I would make a mistake in reading or writing, or in anything I did in general. I hated feeling this way, and I think deep down, I really believed that I was stupid.

It wasn’t until I met my teacher, Kristine Goco-Pabalan, that I learned to believe in myself. From the ages of eight to fifteen, every single school day, she would tutor me in reading comprehension; she taught me how to rewire my brain into decoding words so the letters wouldn’t distort themselves. She stayed by me when I would have my fits and rampages, and never once did she give up on me. She was one of the only people who saw what I could achieve, and believed I could do anything. Through her support, I learned to not give up on myself, and, I learned to love writing.

Our brain has this amazing capability of balancing itself out. When we aren’t good at one thing, it adjusts by making us amazing in something else. It is our job to nurture that talent and to truly make it our own genius. Ever since I was young, I would always make things; I would paint, and draw, and basically do anything to create. I loved art, but I also loved people. I loved talking to people, and empowering someone to be the best version of themselves. Being a part of the experience of allowing someone to see their inner beauty gave me the most joy. It was something close to my heart because I knew exactly what it felt like, and the best way I was able to achieve this was through make up.

After graduating high school, I knew I wanted to become a makeup artist, so I made the big decision to not go to college and go straight to work. Boy, was it a challenge! For the next two years, I worked in all the realms of makeup; I worked on shoots, on televison shows, on print media, on fashion shows, on weddings, prenups, proms. Basically, everything you can possibly think of doing I did.

One thing that stuck by me no matter how difficult work became was to never be afraid to say what I truly thought. I have a hard time communicating sometimes, but if you get me talking, I could talk to you for hours. Through this, I built a lot of relationships in the industry, and people started to value my opinion. This eventually led to my job as a beauty columnist for The Philippine Star newspaper. My column is called CLARITY.

Ironic, isn’t it? I’m dyslexic, but I now write for one of the biggest news-broadcasting agents in the country. I also contribute to multiple fashion magazines and am launching my own blog soon.

Looking back, I can honestly say I’m proud of being dyslexic, and I’m okay with having ADHD. I know sometimes it has its frustrating moments, but I wouldn’t be who I am today without it. I wouldn’t be courageous. I wouldn’t have my easy to read writing style. I wouldn’t be afraid of failure and most importantly, I wouldn’t have the passion to change lives.

If you know who you are and believe in what you can do, you liberate yourself and you can go on to achieve absolutely anything in this world.  Your disability, whatever it may be, will then become your greatest weapon. Trust me, I know from first hand experience.

“So Clara, what do you see when you read?”

Honestly, I still see waves, pirates and mermaids. I still wonder about that new world with a black ocean, but now instead of drowning, I swim.

I calmly pause, and then reply, “Instead of seeing what the words are, I see what they could be.”

Do you have other inspiring stories about special education? Share your story through the SENIA Submit a Story Form


[SENIA Youth] Andrea’s Dream: The Story of a Successful Graduate with ADHD

Andrea Zubiri, AB Photography Graduate

Andrea Zubiri, AB Photography Graduate De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde

The SENIA Manila Youth Chapter aims to advocate and inspire teachers and the community about the gifts and abilities of students with special education needs.

Andrea Zubiri, one of the first members of SENIA Manila Youth Chapter, shared her dream for Philippine higher education.

“I will not be where I am today without God’s love and his grace. My name is Andrea Zubiri and I am a photography graduate from De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde. I graduated last March 2016 and I am heading off to New York for further studies this May. I am going to New York not just for studies but also to live there for a while. After graduating, I had a few freelance job opportunities which have been fun and exciting. I hope to continue photography as my main career.

My advocacy, along with my fellow SENIA Youth members, friends and educators, is for students with learning disabilities to have better access to higher education. I hope that one day colleges in the Philippines would be able to practice support for students who need it the most. This way, we can teach students how to be self-advocates and how to find success while they are studying and after they graduate. Support class in high school has helped me through my college journey and it still helps me in my everyday life. In high school, I was taught how to be a self-advocate and ask for extensions and tell the professor about my ADHD. I also asked them how I can do better in class. This skill has helped me get better grades and pass. Continue reading

[PD] Unleashing My Genius Workshop by Dr. L. Michael Hall

Unleashing My Genius - Overcoming Barriers FULL

Fifth Annual SENIA Manila Conference set for January 23, 2016!

The 5th Annual SENIA Manila Conference is set for January 23, 2016 at the International School Manila (ISM).

Registration to SENIA Manila is open up to 150 participants from the Friends of SENIA schools. Please coordinate with your school representatives for registration. Continue reading

Fourth Annual SENIA Manila Conference a Success!

The 4th Annual Special Education Network in Asia (SENIA) Manila Conference was a success! Hosted by Brent International School Manila last April 25, 2015, the 4th Annual SENIA Manila Conference offered 2 plenary sessions and 9 workshops for over 120 participants. Plenary sessions involved topics such as “The Impact of Anxiety on Student’s Learning and Behavior” presented by Dr. Ann Helmus and “Social Cognition: The iLAUGH Model” presented by Jenny de Guzman and Lea Infante.

Workshops presenters from various friends of SENIA schools made the conference rich with learning opportunities. There were sessions on co-teaching, IB accommodations, executive functioning, five love languages, mindfulness, restorative discipline and management strategies.

The conference closed with a touching session led by the SENIA Youth members. Through an experiential activity, the SENIA Youth allowed participants to experience what it is like to have learning challenges.

The SENIA Board would like to thank Ms. Priscilla Leighton and Ms. Patti Valley of Brent International School Manila for organizing this year’s conference. Heartfelt thanks also goes out to the speakers who shared their expertise at no cost. Specifically, we thank Dr. Ann Helmus, Jenny De Guzman, Shelly Maldonado, Stella Alcantara, Melissa Mendoza, Ericson Perez, Derek Pierce, Marisol Maranan, Lea Infante, Hanna Naing, Karl Mejia, Rizzy Javier, Leanne Martinez, Catherine Deen and Priscilla Leighton.

Relive SENIA 2015 through these wonderful photos taken during the sessions.