By: Damien Chan
Module taken in Sem 1 AY2015/16
Atypical Development and Language
Lecturer(/s): Prof Leher Singh
Prof Leher is extremely knowledgeable and has a lot of experience to share. She would sometimes tell us about her personal life story and her interactions with her son, which makes the example she is referring to more easy to relate to. Unfortunately, she speaks at the speed of a bullet train and the content of the slides that she posts are quite minimal, meaning every lecture is a game of how fast you can type/ write in order to get the full content. This happens because literally every sentence she says is relevant to the content. Even with textbook notes, you will still end up with 6 or 7 pages of a Word Doc containing her lecture speech.
One other thing is that she tends to put up lecture slides quite late (e.g. on the day of the lecture itself).
Module Review: Generally, the module is about atypical development of a child’s language abilities and looks at the various circumstances in which these abnormalities may develop. The first few weeks were mostly about methodology (as always), then subsequent weeks looked at children with hearing impairments, ASD, specific language impairment (SLI), genetic disorders, dyslexia, etc, and how they affect a child’s speech compared to a typically developing child.
The content is insane crazy madness. The textbook is called “Handbook of Child Language Disorders” by Richard G. Schwartz and let me tell you the book does not fit into your hand at all it feels like a dictionary. It is extremely dense and difficult to read as well 😦 I split readings with my friend and I have to say I could never have survived this mod without her. The entire textbook is words and some diagrams (not like the textbooks of the core mods with a lot of pretty pictures and funny examples. NO. This book is strictly all business). Be prepared for a horrible reading experience if you take this mod (even the Prof herself admits that everyone complains about the textbook, but it’s the most comprehensive one she can find. Obviously it is; it looks like something that belongs on a child clinician’s shelf). Once you get used to the pace it should get easier. Each week looks at a different disorder, so it’s easier to compartmentalise. Plus it gives you exposure to certain things like SLI and challenges your assumptions about things like autism and dyslexia.
Tutorials: My tutor was Dilu. Tutorials are a breather, because for all 5 tutorials we watched documentaries about certain disorders (e.g. autism, hearing loss, etc) covered in lectures then had quick discussions about what we just watched. There’s not much to prepare for, and I would say the tutorials are more to introduce another perspective/ reinforce what was taught in lecture. Dilu facilitates the discussions very well too, and sometimes we even end early 🙂
Exams: For both midterms (Week 8) and finals, they were open-book 50 MCQs. It really is a lifesaver when you have so much content to absorb, but unless you managed to remember all the content, the tests seem to be a test of who can flip their notes faster. The depth of the questions also targets very specific details and require you to compare across the various disorders/ methods.
Workload: The entire mod consisted of one midterm, one finals and one term paper (3 pages reflection on one of the disorders covered in class), so the workload is quite light. It helps to balance out the heavy, heavy content.
Comments: I took this because I wanted to take a developmental elective and I hadn’t unlocked the rest of the electives (it seemed there were a lot of social-centric electives this sem). While it might be interesting to learn and the workload is light, the content is difficult to plough through and understand. Be prepared to do extensive readings and rapid typing for this mod.
Nevertheless, Prof Leher is very friendly and helpful. She is always willingly answering questions and looking out for those who are doing badly, so your complaint will not be about the prof.