March 11, 2009

The Write Stuff: Help For Kids Who Struggle With Writing

two pencils grade hb

My son hates writing. I am not just talking about the creative kind, I mean the "put the pencil to the paper old-fashioned penmanship" kind. I wish I could say I have some tried and true solutions for this, but the truth is, along with his autism, and his dyslexia, he also seems to have some dysgraphia as well. I personally don't like to look for a demon under every rock, but we need to call it what it is. This makes things harder than they could be.

Dysgraphia is difficulty writing. It doesn't occur due to cognitive deficit, it just is. It is often characterized by other lack of motor skills. Some kids might have trouble tying shoes or controlling scissors. There are actually three kinds of dysgraphia: dyslexic, motor and spatial. All cause difficult to read handwriting.

With my son, it isn't that his writing is that messy...he works at it very hard, even though he hates it. That is probably one of the biggest frustrations for him. He did well when he was younger, but as he is trying to learn penmanship, he has struggled. I chose not to teach him standard cursive, and instead went with Italics. This has eased his frustrations a bit, but he still "draws" his letters more often than not. His writing is labored, and slow.

I have worked on introduction of typing instead, because, face it, how often do we write? I am concerned about the hand-written portion of the SAT, not because I am that worried about him taking it (he is, after all, only 10) but because I want him to have the option open to him.

For now, though, I am trying a few things:

  • have him work on writing less, and drawing more.
  • giving him opportunity to write for real life reasons: lists, messages and such
  • allowing him to use the writing implements of his choice
  • making sure that graph paper is available for math...this was a huge step for progress in neatness!
  • It is my hope that his writing will be like his reading...he will show the want and need for it, and when he does, you can bet I will be there to provide materials for him.

    Some resources that have worked well for us and those we know:

    Handwriting Without Tears
    Getty & Dubay Italics
    Draw Write Now
    Ed Emberly drawing books
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    1 comment:

    Ginger said...

    You might be interested to learn about new software that can help children with dyslexia.
    Ginger Software has developed ground breaking text-correction software that automatically corrects spelling mistakes as well as misused words. The software is currently available as a free download

    The software was designed to support people with learning difficulties and is measured against texts produced by people with dyslexia.
    Very soon, Ginger will release a new version that will include grammar support, text to speech and many other useful features.
    You are welcome to download the software and write your impressions on this blog.