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    #195715 - 07/01/14 12:17 PM Re: Emotional Questions [Re: Displaced]
    ElizabethN Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/17/12
    Posts: 1390
    Loc: Seattle area
    Originally Posted By: Displaced
    He knows his letters by sight, and knows how they are supposed to look. And actually can write them well when going slowly. But, when left alone to write without supervision, they are all over the place and look like scribble for the most part. Honestly.


    This is a huge red flag for dysgraphia. Has he been evaluated by a neuropsych?

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    #195716 - 07/01/14 12:18 PM Re: Emotional Questions [Re: indigo]
    Displaced Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/01/14
    Posts: 145
    Loc: 2e or not 2e
    Originally Posted By: indigo
    You've received some great ideas already! smile A few more thoughts...

    Possibly ask him to look at his letters and tell you which ones he is most pleased with, which ones he'd like to redo... then support him and accept the level he sets? This may help him feel in control of his education and level of mastery and provide the benefit of ongoing sense of ownership of his decisions.

    Possibly set a timer to ten minutes and then stop, no matter what has been accomplished? This may help him develop trust that when you say 10 minutes, you mean 10 minutes. (On the other hand, if your rule is work until a lesson is completed, then you may wish to remove the reference to "10 minutes" as an estimate... he may decide to move along more quickly to completion.)

    Possibly ask what he would like to learn/see/do/experience this summer and help him achieve that? This may help him learn to see you as supportive and also help him understand that a relative weakness in one or more areas does not establish a ceiling or limit as to what he can learn and achieve in other areas.

    He may need the above skills and internalized beliefs to stay motivated throughout school (and life) and may also use them as a foundation for his own self-advocacy efforts in higher grades.

    Possibly you may find the book A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children to be helpful?


    I occasionally ask him which ones he "likes best" or "likes least" but get minimal response from him. ?? I will keep trying this. I also agree he needs to decide for himself which ones need to be corrected. He is starting to redo some letters by himself too.

    As for the time limit, I originally had an accomplishment goal, but it is now a timed goal. And it is only for actual work. If I set it for 10 min, he would probably accomplish very little. On bad days maybe nothing. The timer "stops" when he starts complaining. I'm thinking of changing this to make it a break instead when he gets so frustrated. I tend to talk him through the challenge, and we discuss forever daily about this. Maybe I could shorten it to 5 min x 2 per day and that might feel easier for him. At his age his concept of one minute is still a long time away, IYKWIM.
    _________________________
    Life is the hardest teacher. It gives the test first and then teaches the lesson.

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    #195717 - 07/01/14 12:24 PM Re: Emotional Questions [Re: Dude]
    Displaced Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/01/14
    Posts: 145
    Loc: 2e or not 2e
    Originally Posted By: Dude
    Sounds like task-avoidant perfectionism to me. We know it well in our household.

    Two things have helped with our DD in this area in the past:

    1) Setting a frame of reference for reasonable expectations. Your DS is getting help from you in writing, so he knows what your writing looks like. Does he know what typical first-grade writing looks like? If you can't take him through the school and show him samples on the wall (I assume not, because summer), see if you can find some images online.



    I will look up examples online for my own benefit. Thanks for the suggestion. In his K class last year, his handwriting was consistently about the worst in the class vs his peers. The teacher would place examples of the other children's writing up on the wall and DS's was almost always illegible. Or, it would be a marker outline he would trace. He also says his writing isn't as good as the other kids. He still doesn't color in the lines or draw beyond a simple stick figure for all his pictures.
    _________________________
    Life is the hardest teacher. It gives the test first and then teaches the lesson.

    Top
    #195724 - 07/01/14 01:04 PM Re: Emotional Questions [Re: indigo]
    KathrynH Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/08/13
    Posts: 111
    Originally Posted By: indigo

    Possibly ask him to look at his letters and tell you which ones he is most pleased with, which ones he'd like to redo... then support him and accept the level he sets? This may help him feel in control of his education and level of mastery and provide the benefit of ongoing sense of ownership of his decisions.


    When I used to help kids learning to write, I'd always have them circle the letter they thought was best with a chosen crayon or pen. Then I'd circle the letter that I liked best & give very specific praise (eg, "This t touches the top & the bottom, & you put the cross line right in the middle."). Since you & your son are struggling so much, I might try this carrot approach.

    Maybe you could back off on your expectations for rewriting letters until things improve... But I wouldn't ask him which letters he feels need to be rewritten unless you are willing to actually follow his lead. If you give him this power, and then override his decision by making him rewrite additional letters -you aren't empowering him; you're emphasizing his lack of control.

    About the "10 minute" time frame. I'd let that go for yourself & him. Write down what you expect to get done in one session and check it off as you go. That way you can BOTH see progress. The emphasis shifts to what you have DONE rather than how long it took.

    I'd also have a positively worded phrase to repeat during sessions. Something like, "When we're done with these tasks, we can go to the pool/library/park." (Positively worded as opposed to... "We can't do that until...") Phrases like this give me something to fall back on & help me concisely get my point across. It also keeps me from getting sucked into the arguing trap.

    If all else fails & money isn't an issue, I'd go with the PT & possibly some more specific testing. Maybe you could do PT 1 time/week & the therapist could give daily "mini assignments" to complete on off days so you're not the bad guy?

    Good luck!


    Edited by KathrynH (07/01/14 01:39 PM)

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    #195730 - 07/01/14 01:23 PM Re: Emotional Questions [Re: Displaced]
    polarbear Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/29/11
    Posts: 3363
    Originally Posted By: Displaced
    [quote=Dude] In his K class last year, his handwriting was consistently about the worst in the class vs his peers. The teacher would place examples of the other children's writing up on the wall and DS's was almost always illegible. Or, it would be a marker outline he would trace. He also says his writing isn't as good as the other kids. He still doesn't color in the lines or draw beyond a simple stick figure for all his pictures.


    You have a family history of dyslexia, and all of the sounds very much like it *might* be dysgraphia. Both can have a familial connection and can occur together or separately in the same family. It might *not* be either, but if there is either one present all the work in the world you put your ds through now might not help because it's not targeted effectively. Considering the family history I would make a neuropsych eval a priority over working on letters.

    polarbear

    Top
    #195731 - 07/01/14 01:28 PM Re: Emotional Questions [Re: polarbear]
    Displaced Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/01/14
    Posts: 145
    Loc: 2e or not 2e
    Originally Posted By: polarbear
    Displaced, I am replying on my phone so please excuse any bizarre auto-corrects smile


    I was curious about why you were after schooling reading and writing so I glanced back through your previous posts. From what you've previously written it sounds like ds had a tough year in kindy and was considered to be struggling according to his teacher, you've had him evaluated privately but no LD was found, there is dyslexia in your family, and there's a possibility that teacher fit this past year was an issue.


    This is a good summary. I thought it would be overkill to include it again. To recap: testing results were negative for all learning disabilities, including dyslexia and dysgraphia. However, right before testing he made a big reading "jump" in ability/phonics. His results were low for reading and on "old" scales would have given him dyslexia, but according to the new requirements he is excluded. Because of his age, it was strongly suggested that if he did not improve relatively with his peers/age, he should get retested as the disabilities can be difficult to appreciate so young. Personally I feel the dyslexia may not be present anymore as his reading is so much improved. I feel it is due to teaching him phonics at home vs the school method of teaching. He could probably sound out most easy phonics rules words if they were pretty short (6-7 letters or so) and I feel much better about his reading.

    To focus on his reading during school I neglected his handwriting because they said he could fail if his reading did not improve, whereas they don't care for passing purposes what the writing looks like. So we didn't practice much until summertime. And school practice is largely unsupervised from what I can gather, so most if not all of his handwriting practice over the last 2-3 years has been by unsupervised practice. As in, no immediate feedback.


    Quote:


    Do you feel he has extreme emotional challenges to any types of challenge or to this work in particular? If he reacts this way in general to challenges or things he doesn't want to do I would try to work through it, but if his reactions are magnified with respect to reading and writing work I would think through and possibly rethink the approach. His reactions *might* be his almost 6 year old way of telling you that the work is *truly* difficult for him.



    It's hard for me to be objective, but he does act this way somewhat to anything that is a challenge for him, even if it's fun. He had a meltdown at boy scouts playing marbles because he wasn't winning (but he was having fun until he understood he was losing). And I never emphasize winning as a goal (I don't think). It is worse for things that are difficult. There is some tendency to whine/complain if he feels he will be able to stop working as a result. When our schedule is not reliable I get more of it I think.




    Quote:

    There might be a bit of a disconnect between what you are telling your ds here and what you are having him do - from his perspective. You're essentially trying to let him know he doesn't have to be a high-achiever at handwriting right now and skills take time to develop, but you're also having him practice for what can seem like a huge amount of time to a child his age. jmo, but I think that it's easier to motivate young children to work on this type of skill when they have a clear reason why they need to learn it.



    Thanks for this perspective. I will consider how I can be more clear in my goals for him as well as the issue of perfection. Part of my trouble is handwriting is very subjective IMO. Is this T better than that T? Who cares really as long as it's legible? But I am trying to emphasize legibility and going through the right process, and with time the neatness will follow, as long as he isn't rushing. Did he start the letter in the right place? Did the letter reach the bottom line? Did the letters close?


    Quote:


    If this is causing issues at this point in time I would back off for now and maybe for a week or so focus on having ds write a row of letters and circle the two he thinks look best. Praise him for those good-looking letters and quietly observe which letters he is not forming correctly. With HWOT you will go over the correct formation at the start of the pages where you copy a letter for practice. Try to notice what's up with not using the correct formation - is he just trying to get through quickly, is it due to not understanding, does he seem to not be able to control where he starts, is it consistently incorrect or randomly incorrect?


    Thanks for this suggestion.

    Quote:


    If it *is* dysgraphia it's important to understand that an eval by a PT isn't necessarily going to reveal it. Handwriting would specifically have to be part of the eval - many dysgraphic children, including my severely dysgraphic ds, have good fine motor skills for certain types of fine motor tasks. The disconnect with dysgraphia is in the inability of the brain to learn the automaticity of forming letters. The reason behind the dysgraphia could be fine-motor impacted of it could be due to visual-motor integration. The clues that showed our ds was dysgraphic were in observing his writing process, comparing his handwriting samples to peers in early elementary (which is tricky - dysgraphia isn't the same thing as sloppy or early-developing handwriting), and discrepancy on ability subtest scores as well as widely varying achievement test scores. Additional testing from his neuropsych helped verify it was dysgraphia and delineated the type.


    Thanks for this perspective. I am certainly not excluding further testing. I think one of the bad things about having him tested already was he was so young and finding problems is so difficult at a young age. The ed psych recommended repeat testing in a year if school work didn't show improvement with ability, or difficulties continued. I don't think I'll wait a year, however.


    Quote:

    You might find it helpful to have your ds to through a thorough reading eval by a specialist. I only mention this because you are seeing resistance and because there is a family history of dyslexia. Reading requires a wide range of skills all coming together and it can be extremely difficult to tease out a reading challenge. Two of my kids struggled with early reading - for one it was simply a vision issue (eyes not working together, issues were resolved with vision therapy and her reading took off), for the other it was a challenge associating symbols and sound which has required very specific and intensive reading tutoring.


    Do you have a recommendation of a type of specialist? Both the PT and ed psych did dyslexia "testing". Most of one whole day of testing by the ed psych was dedicated to it.

    Quote:


    It was mentioned already but worth mentioning again - our teachers have always stressed the importance of parents reading out loud TO their children, no matter what age/grade. I would put that as my first priority at this point, and try to make it fun, books that your ds is interested in. When you are having him practice reading with you, try making it light and simple. Start with him reading a sentence or two and you reading the next few sentences and over time work up to alternating pages. Don't stress out when he misses a word or can't decode a word, just let him know what it is. Try to just observe over time what type of roadblocks he hits - is it a certain type of word, does he have challenges with big words or does he get tripped up randomly with small words you would expect him to already know? Does he read more consistently when he is starting a session than later on when he might be tired? Etc.



    Yes, I read aloud to him often, as does my husband. Probably an hour or so per day with books of his choice from library books or what he asks for. I usually have him sound out words he doesn't know to practice, but maybe I should just read those words to him as you recommend. They can be short words he resists but the pattern is words he doesn't know the meaning of.


    Quote:
    To be honest, I would seriously consider dropping the sessions for the rest of the summer. It sounds like they are producing far too ugh stress for both of you with only minimal gain. You really don't know at this point how first grade will go. He may star out behind but then catch up easily in school if he doesn't have any deeper challenges with reading and writing. If he does have challenges, working without understanding them is most likely not going to help significantly. Instead focus on observing but not pushing - hope that makes sense.


    I primarily am working with him to remediate the handwriting and keep the reading up to speed. He barely passed reading and got unsatisfactory in writing. My selfish goal is to get him on level with his peers so that I don't have to spend the school year doing remediation but just regular school work.
    _________________________
    Life is the hardest teacher. It gives the test first and then teaches the lesson.

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    #195732 - 07/01/14 01:36 PM Re: Emotional Questions [Re: ABQMom]
    Displaced Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/01/14
    Posts: 145
    Loc: 2e or not 2e
    Originally Posted By: ABQMom
    This screams dysgraphia or dyslexia to me.

    You might try these instead of sitting with pencil and paper:

    trace letters on fine sandpaper
    trace letters in the air using big, wide, sweeping motions (engages major muscles instead of fine motor)
    trace letters on an iPad or draw them in a drawing app

    These helped tremendously, but mostly it just took time. His writing was basically illegible until fourth or fifth grade when his motor development caught up a bit. Physical therapy helped tremendously.


    Thank you. I am going to incorporate some of this into his writing I think. He dislikes the handwriting app I have that has HWT letters in it, but maybe I can encourage just one letter with the handwriting we do, plus a sensory or larger motor use. PT we considered, but without a diagnosis it's hard to get covered. We may revisit with a different PT as the last I don't think was very specialized (but was a peds PT experienced). We have a large clinic affiliated with a national children's hospital within driving distance so we may try that. There's also a local speech therapist who I think has a PT come in and they advertise writing help so I may look into that, even if we have to pay out of pocket.
    _________________________
    Life is the hardest teacher. It gives the test first and then teaches the lesson.

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    #195733 - 07/01/14 01:41 PM Re: Emotional Questions [Re: Zen Scanner]
    Displaced Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/01/14
    Posts: 145
    Loc: 2e or not 2e
    Originally Posted By: Zen Scanner
    Had a big break-through on number formation with DS last year, by joking about the process and laughing at mis-writes. Humor is a great tool for dispelling anxiety and negative thoughts. Also, some theories out there suggest that it helps reduce encoding wrong processes. Along those lines, I would also be careful about how you present things: redoing something because it was made wrong feels punitive to a kid, and if he anticipates making errors each time he practices and that he'll receive what feels like punishment creates a lot of dissonance.


    Yes, this is something I need to consider and incorporate.
    _________________________
    Life is the hardest teacher. It gives the test first and then teaches the lesson.

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    #195734 - 07/01/14 01:47 PM Re: Emotional Questions [Re: queencobra]
    Displaced Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/01/14
    Posts: 145
    Loc: 2e or not 2e
    Originally Posted By: queencobra


    This summer, we are doing a journal. It is a major pain to get him to sit down and do the journal more often than not. He will complain longer than he actually spends doing it, but he will tell me he liked doing it once he finished it.

    We ask him for a page or two and a drawing. I don't correct anything, but I will verbally tell him how to spell something correctly. It isn't everyday, but a few times a week. It has really helped when I sat next to him and wrote in my own journal. His little sister also sits down and draws pictures in her journal too. This is makes it more like family time than an assignment.


    This is a good idea. I'm a little hesitant to "allow" him to practice a lot of writing without going over the letters first. I spoke with DS about writing sentences or words instead of letters and he agreed it sounded better. Maybe I'll look up funny sentences to dictate or him to just copy instead. He doesn't mind journaling, but if I just tell him to write it is not legible usually. And I thought by going through a program like HWT it would isolate individual letters. The program also asks to not have the children write words where they have not yet been taught letters. And I have seen progress! But when he doesn't practice a specific letter for a while it looks worse again.

    I'm also thinking of getting a tracing book (don't know if they have those anymore) or something else for him to just focus on using his writing skills without it being boring writing. For instance I get him maze books which his enjoys, but his doesn't stay on the paths in general, even in wide maze books. I guess it's still practice, though.

    I also discussed with him maybe saving up for a new app every X days he does his writing. He seemed very enthusiastic about that! smile


    Edited by Displaced (07/01/14 01:49 PM)
    _________________________
    Life is the hardest teacher. It gives the test first and then teaches the lesson.

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    #195735 - 07/01/14 01:53 PM Re: Emotional Questions [Re: ElizabethN]
    Displaced Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/01/14
    Posts: 145
    Loc: 2e or not 2e
    Originally Posted By: ElizabethN
    Originally Posted By: Displaced
    He knows his letters by sight, and knows how they are supposed to look. And actually can write them well when going slowly. But, when left alone to write without supervision, they are all over the place and look like scribble for the most part. Honestly.


    This is a huge red flag for dysgraphia. Has he been evaluated by a neuropsych?


    No, just PT and ed psych. Originally we had no reason to consider a higher level testing, but we did get full LD testing by ed psych. If problems continue I would consider neuropsych as he gets a little older. Since I haven't been working with him much with his writing until this summer I want to give him some time to practice to see if it improves as his reading did last year.
    _________________________
    Life is the hardest teacher. It gives the test first and then teaches the lesson.

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