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    #245831 - 07/06/19 04:55 AM Automaticity & AT
    MumOfThree Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/07/11
    Posts: 1527
    Loc: Australia
    I am radically editing this post because it's just too long and I didn't make my questions clear enough...

    It's been a long time since I was a regular poster here....

    I am about to start homeschooling our youngest child, who is 9, we've been around the block with handwriting difficulties and our older children. This one has less handwriting difficulty than my middle child, but it's still an issue for her and I am currently planning how to proceed (now that I don't have to negotiate with anyone and can use any measures I like).

    I am digging into the research about handwriting, typing, automaticity, etc hoping to understand if it is really handwriting that matters, or whether it's what you have most "native" automaticity with. And I am not having a huge amount of success.

    The questions on my mind are:

    1) what AT solutions are considered best of breed now for kids with handwriting issues?
    2) how much effort is it worth putting into maintaining some level of handwriting for a kid who is able to write but can be expected to be unable to produce volumes at speed?
    3) Is there clear research on when handwriting is "better" for learning and memory and how to identify when typing is actively better for learning and memory?

    (ie we know she will never write essay type exams by hand, but should she write notes by hand?)

    ______________________________________________

    Some potentially use bits from the original TLDR post:

    Profile wise she her verbal IQ is exceptional, other reasoning indexes and processing speed are above average, while working memory is age normal at best and possibly weak (picture span was weak but the psychologist was not completely convinced of the accuracy of the score). Achievement testing was all 94th percentile and higher (much higher in literacy). As mentioned she has genetic connective tissue problems that impact handwriting.

    This child can physically write, she scored 151 on sentence composition and 139 for the essay on the WIAT, she is not currently disabled by handwriting (though the psychologist agreed she would struggle with the volumes required in the future). Also, despite the great scores, I read her essay when we went for the review with the psychologist and was not impressed. The psych raved about her essay, while my husband and I thought it was pretty sub par compared to what she can do with time and what she does with typing. As such I am certain that, like her sisters, her speed, volume and quality will improve with typing (particularly given she already does better with typing and she has not yet mastered the level of full touch typing we insisted on for her sisters).

    I am quite clear that perfecting her typing is an immediate goal for us in our homeschool plan. I am less clear what other skills to prioritize... whether to finish teaching her cursive. Whether to buy her an ipad with pencil and work on her handwriting in digital format, etc. If we can develop a handwritten workflow for note taking on a digital device that then becomes searchable, or can be converted to a font, is that better for her than only having typing? Is it worth trying to learn speech to text as well as typing?

    I feel like we are quite behind on assistive technology usage in Australia compared to some of the things I see mentioned here, which leaves me feeling like I don't know what I should be looking at for her.

    I want to both give her the maximum ability to output at her intellectual level right now, but also work on any and all skills she will need or benefit from in the future which are actually likely to be achievable. I am concerned about future exams requiring short written answers, which my elder children have no usable provisions for. Subjects like history and english they type but chemistry, for example, it's just extra time and handwriting, which is not ideal.

    Planning for how to help the youngest is almost more confusing because she's not completely incapable in this area. I feel like we ought to maintain handwriting because there's so much talk about how important it is...but we KNOW that she will struggle enormously to produce volume at speed by hand in the future and we know that neatness and bookwork feeling "hard" are part of why she was failing in the classroom.


    Edited by MumOfThree (07/09/19 01:26 AM)

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    #245836 - 07/08/19 04:34 PM Re: Automaticity & AT [Re: MumOfThree]
    sanne Offline
    Member

    Registered: 06/30/16
    Posts: 289
    My children and myself have joint hypermobility that affects handwriting. We have found that modifying pencil grip is all that is necessary to be able to write without pain and fatigue.

    Ring splints may help your children in tasks using their fingers. Adaptive grips are likely to be the most beneficial change.

    Modified Tripod Grasp works well for many people with joint hypermobility. I also see many of my friends with joint hypermobility using the thumb wrap.
    https://centerforpediatrictherapy.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/pencil-grips/

    You may find additional support from occupational therapy. If you can connect with an Ehlers-Danlos society or support group, those people will know what providers in your area are hypermobility-literate.

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    #245844 - 07/09/19 01:44 AM Re: Automaticity & AT [Re: sanne]
    MumOfThree Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/07/11
    Posts: 1527
    Loc: Australia
    Thanks Sanne, I have modified my original post as I think it was too long and my questions not clear enough.

    I am really very happy with the level of OT advice and intervention we have around handwriting. The children see both a child specialist OT, who is accustomed to doing standardized handwriting assessments for schools etc, and an adult hand specialist (who mostly deals with adults recovering from injury and surgery and is expert at relearning handwriting, making devices, etc). The child specialist had never seen a child with hands like my middle daughters develop handwriting to the level that we managed with years of intervention with the adult specialist. We used custom made splints, a range of grips, etc. complex exercises... Her progress was exceptional, and yet two weeks after we moved her to full time typing at 10 years old her teacher came to me near tears and told me all the ways my daughter's life had changed (for the good) since moving to a laptop... And now, almost 3 years later, we may as well never have done all that therapy at all because her handwriting has regressed so badly.

    I feel completely qualified to work on actual handwriting, to the extent we choose to pursue it. And well supported by my local professionals with regard to handwriting. On the other hand it's much harder getting good local guidance on current AT options, or current research about learning/memory and handwriting vs whatever-you-have-automaticity-in.

    Edited to add: Child OT thinks handwriting is an anachronistic skill completely irrelevant to modern life and no child should be made to handwrite unless they want to. Hand specialist OT thinks handwriting is a critical neuro-motor skill and should be protected/fostered. School makes all the right noises about understanding/supporting our kids but no effort to find supports and randomly we get comments comments like how they saw neat handwriting that one time "so they know the child could if they felt like it", and work still gets comments about neatness, presentation etc...

    Essentially I need to forge my own beliefs about what is best here and then make it work before considering whether our child should re-enter the school system, and if so, send her back with a fully functional output system/s that school must agree continuing to before we proceed. Whether she goes back into school is not only about this issue.


    Edited by MumOfThree (07/09/19 02:09 AM)

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    #245845 - 07/09/19 07:04 AM Re: Automaticity & AT [Re: MumOfThree]
    aeh Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3457
    I think you are very much on the right track, MoT. You know your child best.

    FWIW, my opinion (not a dictate!) is that long-term goals for handwriting should be the ability to 1) sign one's name, 2) fill out a form, and 3) write a thank-you note. Anything beyond that would be gravy.

    On the question of the learning & memory benefits of handwritten notes--not from the research, but my conceptualization: well, presumably some aspect of the value lies in multimodal input and rehearsal of the content of the notes--which relies on those notes being encoded as language. In the case of persons without handwriting automaticity, one may think of letter formation as processed more in the form of a small drawing task than as symbols representing the components of language. This suggests that there may be some L&M benefit from handwritten notes, but also that quite a bit of the brain that one might expect a NT student to devote to processing language and concepts is instead diverted to other, mechanical, purposes. Also, lengthier content may be processed incompletely or spottily, as some may fall through the gaps of divided attention. The bottom line is, if one has to think about the act of handwriting while taking notes, one has less attention, memory, and reasoning to apply to thinking about the content.

    As to how she might reintegrate into institutional school...that depends a bit on the timeline. By the time she reaches middle school (and certainly high school), it is highly likely that there will be some option for, at a minimum, BYOD (bring your own device). Most of the suburban districts in my area are moving toward universal 1:1 tablets or netbooks beginning in middle school, and nearly every high school already at least allows devices. The secondary school where I work has provided 1:1 chromebooks for several years (the first cohort with devices all four years graduated a couple of years ago). And finally, most districts have also moved to online state standardized testing. (Our homeschooled dyslexic/dysgraphic DC integrated quite well into a public secondary school with no accommodation plan, due to the presence of universal 1:1 chromebooks. I think the bigger challenge was getting used to the idea of changing out of one's pajamas to go to school!)

    IOW, at least in NA, the unaccommodated, general education classroom is moving rapidly toward negligible handwriting demands anyway. This, of course, is why your child OT thinks handwriting is anachronistic. Because educationally, it is. I will note that there is value in learning to read cursive, as otherwise, a fair amount of historical text becomes inaccessible--such as grandma's letters or journals.

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    #245846 - 07/09/19 07:37 AM Re: Automaticity & AT [Re: MumOfThree]
    Platypus101 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/01/14
    Posts: 659
    Loc: Canada
    It sounds like you are in a really challenging place. I read your original post but was hoping someone would first jump in with some of the research you were looking for, as all I can contribute is really musings and more questions (just what you need!). Some of this may thus respond to info since deleted, so apologies in advance if I confuse the details.

    Background: As context, both my kids have been keyboarding since about grade 2, for different reasons. DD12 is dyslexic and dysgraphic. DS15 is, well, not really sure, but writing is excruciating, seemingly due to a mix of expressive language disability/ retrieval issues (my guess) and slow processing and severe inattentive ADHD. He's also hypermobile, though not diagnosed with a particular overriding cause. Both can handprint when needed, but at a drastic quality/ productivity cost (and for DS, physical discomfort). We're lucky that we haven't had to go to AT for math, which does get more complicated, but I've also negotiated (battled) extensively over the years to get the excess writing aspects of math reduced (which was an especially huge problem in their younger years).

    Research: On the research side, I too have been unnerved by frequent claims that handwriting is critical to learning. I have tried to track these claims when I see them, but haven't made a concerted effort to hunt down research on this question. Generally, however, I have found that I pretty quickly end up at a source that is some teacher claiming they "just know it" because kids these days compared to when she started teaching....

    I do remember one more substantive study, on college students retaining more info when taking lecture notes via paper vs laptop. But I was pretty frustrated with the limited scope of the study and that they didn't seem to have given any thought to effects due to variations in the learning abilities of the participating students, or the generalizability of the findings. IOW, even if the results were true, it still didn't tell me whether they would be applicable to someone with automaticity issues that affect writing.

    My (very) personal, (very) inexpert opinion, shaped by my family as well as oodles of reading what lit I can find and parent experiences in places like this, is that (a) I suspect it may not be true (research seems awful weak), and (b) it probably doesn't apply to LD even if it is.

    As I understand it, the more you can reduce the demand on working memory, the more you can learn. On this, the psych research is unequivocal. When you lack automaticity in writing, reading, spelling, calculation, whatever, all your brain power is sucked up with the lower-level mechanics and little is left for higher-level analysis - or even listening while taking notes. So in general, my advice is to on one hand, do everything you can to increase automaticity and free up brain power. But on the other hand, also do everything you can to just bypass the un-automated skill when *thinking* is the goal.

    Remediation and A/T: For us, that has meant lots of reading remediation for DD, but read-aloud/ audiobooks and scribing and AT when she wanted to think and produce stuff. She's now self-sufficient with her AT for writing (mostly tablet with word prediction), and reading is decent if slow and needs repeats. We still plug away at spelling remediation (because she is a writer and thinking about how to spell every word when she's writing really screeches her creativity to a halt), but otherwise ignore spelling in her work. One exception remains poetry - when she creates poetry, her brain moves so fast she can't type it, and instead scrawls illegible smudges across her whiteboard, then dictates to me to type up immediately before she forgets it, because even she can't really read it. This summer we're going to practice editing with Grammerly, but that will be a separate exercise from creating written work. (The goal there is increasing independence rather than automaticity.)

    For DS the math monster, it has meant taking verbatim notes for him on brainstorming and written schoolwork (he's now pretty self-sufficient typing on a laptop). Also, a whiteboard for extracurricular math, where I've done the bulk of the writing over the years so he can focus on the math he loves without writing getting in the way. (He still prefers the whiteboard, and for extracurricular courses like AoPS and others I have just taken pictures of his work and put them into a PDF to submit - never been a problem). Both kids tried speech-to-text - which is a godsend for many and I highly recommend trying - but mine found it frustrating (it's not great with kid voices, and hard to use at school) and takes a lot of practice too. I suspect DD will go back to it over the next few years, though.

    FWIW, both use keyboarding for almost all schoolwork and tests (except math). For instance, DS in high school science will keyboard most of a test, while handwriting formula, diagrams, etc on the original test paper. Anything that involves a full sentence is on the computer. As long as they could handwrite school math and avoid unnecessary writing and repetitive worksheets, we've actually done fine with quite basic AT - mostly what's built into an iPad or Google classroom.

    I'm matching your original post here for background detail, I realize, and still haven't gotten to the point - but you had a lot of questions! Don't have time to make this shorter smile , so I've added in some headings to help navigate....

    Automaticity: One thing that really jumped out at me in your post was that you mentioned lack of automaticity as well as spelling errors. As far as I understand (another place I was waiting for aeh's expertise!), a purely physical issue like hypermobility would not cause these issues, but a cognitive processing issue like dysgraphia would. From the collective experience of parents here, I have concluded that while physical weaknesses that affect writing can be strengthened, dysgraphia does not seem very amenable to remediation. Any number of people have reported short-term improvements that vanish as soon as the OT etc stops - in other words, automaticity does not seem to improve in the long term. (It's like my kids with LD being able to ace a spelling or multiplication test - and then not remembering any of it the next week, as soon as they stop the constant practice that's keeping it in their short-term memory. It never automated.) So it's important to know what problems you are addressing, and how much you can realistically hope to improve automaticity. Reading is super remediable, and worth every second of effort. Executive function can be improved, though a lot is finding and practicing your own work-arounds and back-up systems. A lot of other LD stuff, however, doesn't automate readily.

    You have unique and in-depth experience with your family so far, of both significant challenges and major effort and resources to remediate. It sounds like you are assessing that experience, but not quite trusting your own assessment. Trust your judgement; you are an expert in your kids. What, exactly, have been the benefits for your older two (concrete as well as theoretical possibilities)? What have been the costs, especially including opportunity costs, to all of you? Are the benefits worth the costs? Are there differences in child 3 vs the other two that would significantly change the nature or weight of those costs and benefits?

    With respect to your Q3, I have concluded that a person with automaticity issues that affect writing can think, or they can write. Pick one. Because you only get one. So what's the priority in this particular task? Honestly, when it comes to something like note-taking, not only would I not go hand-written if that will impair listening and understanding, I encourage recording and/ photos of the board as appropriate, and as much as possible. Writing should be a tool to help learning and communicating. If it's a barrier to those, I try to find another way of doing it.

    Final thoughts. For gifted kids with LD, the question is often much less "Can they do it?", but rather, "At what cost?" They have amazing strengths and compensation skills. With enough time and effort and perfect alignment of the stars, they can do almost anything - produce, say, beautiful handwriting (but it's created as a picture, not automated letters) and do all sorts of impressive things. But just because they could do it once doesn't mean they can do it everytime. That's the very frustrating and confusing reality of LD, magnified for 2E. And when they do it, there's a huge amount of other things they can't do at the same time. They have to have priorities, they have to choose.

    It's been hard for me as a parent who didn't have these struggles myself to understand and truly accept and support and even encourage these limitations and choices. It's been an even harder battle with schools and others who see the ability, and assume the kid could do it all if they just. tried. harder. There are some things my kids can improve a little or a lot, and some in which they will never get much better. And some things that just aren't worth the cost. That's not me being a pessimist, that's just reality. Time is a lot more finite when you're 2E. Choices are harder. Opportunity cost really, really matters. We are enormously fortunate to live in a world where there are so many other ways of doing things. Over the years, I have gotten more comfortable with working around the low-level mechanics as much as humanly possible, and focusing our effort on the higher-level stuff that keeps my kids learning and pursuing their passions and supporting their strengths with as few barriers as possible.

    So that's our experience so far. Sorry about the book!!

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    #245849 - 07/10/19 04:30 AM Re: Automaticity & AT [Re: MumOfThree]
    Pemberley Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/07/11
    Posts: 729
    Weighing in from personal experience rather than research. Because, frankly, if research that says you need to write by hand in order to learn was correct my DD would not have learned most of what she knows...

    I noticed problems with DD's fine motor and hand-eye coordination before her 18 month check up but it took until age 5 to convince the pediatrician to refer her for an eval. By that time kindergarten was looming and the OT had to focus on getting her to be able to hold a pencil and try to form letters rather than the many OT tasks that should have been explored first. DD spent the next 7 years with OT's working on her handwriting. Painful, frustrating and not a good use of her time. By 4th grade the OT's said she wouldn't make much more progress and wanted to end the sessions. DD herself said "Mom you can't run away from your problems - you know that - right?" She then went on to explain she may not always have access to her technology and wanted to be able to write a short note by hand if needed so we continued working on handwriting even though we knew it would never be her means of communicating ideas.

    In 5th grade we moved to cursive. Most schools no longer teach cursive but I had read (probably here...) that it's easier for many dysgraphic students because you don't have to pick the pencil up between letters. The OT's used the program ""Cursive Without Tears" which my daughter said "is most definitely cursive WITH tears for me..." She was not one who benefitted from cursive and still cannot read cursive - either handwritten or a font that resembles it. We dropped it in 6th grade in favor of an all AT approach.

    I had been pushing AT since 1st grade and faced initial pushback from a well intentioned but woefully misinformed school OT who said it was not developmentally appropriate to introduce keyboarding prior to 4th grade. She insisted that kids needed to learn handwriting in the early grades or they would never develop the skill. (Once I convinced the 1st grade teacher to scribe a story for DD and she compared the level of detail in the 2 page result to the 4 or so handwritten lines DD was able to write herself in a longer amount of time she was convinced but couldn't do much to help convince the OT...) Got approved for an AT eval end of 1st grade but nothing was actually done until the end of 2nd grade. By third grade she was in a Spec Ed school with her program emphasizing AT.

    We started with a chain of AT specialists who would introduce an app or program and then leave DD and her teachers to figure out how to implement it. There was a young Spec ed teacher at the school who took the lead on troubleshooting the AT but while better than handwriting still was far from streamlined. Each technology glitch derailed DD's ability to complete her work. She soon learned that she couldn't really rely on anything other than her ears and her spoken voice. She primarily came to rely on oral testing to show her knowledge. We did discover that the built in voice-to-text on iPad 2 or higher worked just fine with her voice after trying and failing to get Dragon to work early on.

    Getting the right AT specialist was critical. In 6th grade our district placed her in their one day a week TAG program and actually contracted to bring in an OT to work with her for an hour developing whatever AT approach would be needed for that day's classwork. The OT's however refused to work with her on AT. Apparently at some point the 2 fields diverged. Older OT's were trained in AT but for younger ones it was a separate discipline. Much to DD's chagrine they insisted on using that hour to work on handwriting which had previously been declared futile. So while DD struggled to figure out AT solutions on her own (with technology that kept glitching and without the young sped teacher around to help troubleshoot) she also continued to work on handwriting. Very frustrating situation.

    However somewhere in this process her handwriting actually improved. I don't know if it was developmental maturity or the unrelenting focus brought by the OT who refused to work on AT but her handwriting suddenly became somewhat legible. Still slow and with uneven sized and reversed letters but each letter was now legible. For the most part each word was legible. Definitely not age appropriate (probably at best 3rd grade level if that) but she could now write a short note, her name and maybe fill out a very brief form. Nothing that takes too much mental agility but with time and focus she can do it.

    Simultaneously the iPad provided by our school district began to malfunction to the point of being almost useless. It would highlight and erase pages of text while she was working. Start reading aloud while she was voice recording so she would get double recordings. It would read back letter by letter instead of word by word. At one point it started reading back in Chinese. And there was no one there to help with it. Again she could only rely on her ears and her voice but now with a large, year long project that had to be completed for TAG.

    After a few false starts we found the perfect AT person who said it was her job to not only determine the best technology, apps and programs but work with DD on knowing which to use when, troubleshoot, streamline, train the school and teachers, etc. THAT'S what you probably need. It took months to untangle all the mess created by previous AT snafu's. She had the school district purchase new equipment (DD uses a chromebook, an iPad Pro, iPhone 8 and an older mini she was gifted and used as a life preserver when the district issued iPad malfunctioned so badly.) She has a long list of apps and programs to do just about everything. The AT specialist's mantra is "Work smarter not harder" because DD had gotten used to just spending more and more hours doing things in a convoluted way when she had no AT support. (She would write, copy, edit, email to herself, copy, place in another app, etc whatever she needed to do when she didn't have a single program to do everything for her...) She worked with DD weekly and they went through every project or assignment DD had while she learned to streamline her process. The AT specialist also works with each teacher to assure they know what DD's process needs to look like. Both DD and the teachers have been traIned in how she uses voice notes. (She records the classes, can type shorthand notes to bookmark certain areas, take photos of the notes on the whiteboard, etc.) It's all way, way over my head but DD is now totally independent. They meet in person maybe once a month and the AT specialist zooms into her classes or to discuss any problems she's encountering. This past spring DD copresented with her at a conference for teachers and administrators explaining how AT makes her education possible.

    Interestingly DD LOVES to write. She writes stories, songs, scripts. Whenever she has free time she writes. However the problems she experienced with the glitchy iPad a few years ago makes her reluctant to use voice to text even though it is MUCH faster when it works. She insists on typing everything which is a longer, harder process and her dyslexia means there are tons of spelling errors. She has some programs that allow her to move between keyboarding and voice recording it she gets really stuck on a word.

    I'm not sure if this helps or if you are looking for more specifics about what programs and apps DD is using. If so maybe provide a specific list of tasks and I'll find out what DD is using. (ie a worksheet that can't be done by hand can be photographed, filled out on an iPad and printed, emailed or shared by Google) The only thing they haven't come up with a workaround for (other than scribing) is handwritten group activities like "foldover stories" in a creative writing class.

    HTH

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    #245850 - 07/10/19 05:30 AM Re: Automaticity & AT [Re: MumOfThree]
    MumOfThree Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/07/11
    Posts: 1527
    Loc: Australia
    Thank you all so much for your thoughtful replies, we've had a hectic day preparing for and hosting a family celebration. I will be back to reply meaningfully, but I really wanted to say thank you immediately.

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    #245851 - 07/10/19 06:23 AM Re: Automaticity & AT [Re: MumOfThree]
    aeh Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3457
    Throwing in the little bit suggested by research, from a cursory scan:

    Prior research on learning and memory for handwriting vs typing appears to have been at the letter level (preschool/kindergarten students) or the word list level (college students). The letter-writing study found significant differences for older preschoolers (near K age), but had many design limitations, while the word memory study found no significant differences for free recall, and very mildly significant differences (p = 0.036) for recognition. Both study groups were relatively small (only 13/12 students in the preschool study, in the age condition with significant results).

    For notetaking, it appears that the differential benefit obtained in studies that find one from handwriting lecture notes over typing notes comes from the different notetaking behavior exhibited by typical college students. That is, handwritten notes tend to force students to organize, summarize, and synthesize content in their own words, whereas the content of typed notes tends toward verbatim transcription, which, apparently, many people can do without actually processing the content.

    IOW, it is not handwriting per se that helps in learning and memory, but organizing, summarizing, digesting, and synthesizing. Which I think we knew already!

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    #245853 - 07/11/19 01:44 AM Re: Automaticity & AT [Re: aeh]
    MumOfThree Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/07/11
    Posts: 1527
    Loc: Australia
    Working my way throgh here...

    Originally Posted By: aeh

    FWIW, my opinion (not a dictate!) is that long-term goals for handwriting should be the ability to 1) sign one's name, 2) fill out a form, and 3) write a thank-you note. Anything beyond that would be gravy.

    This is pretty much in exact agreement with our child OT, who told us when our middle child was 4.5yrs "Be happy if she grows up to sign her name and tick boxes"...

    Originally Posted By: aeh

    The bottom line is, if one has to think about the act of handwriting while taking notes, one has less attention, memory, and reasoning to apply to thinking about the content.


    I think this is really key for the child I am most interested in helping now, I think she is less "disabled" with regard to handwriting than our middle child. But we know her to have WM substantially lower than all other areas of her profile. Which probably means it does boil down to "If typing is easier, she should type" (or if dictating is easier dictate). And my current job is to figure out what actually is easier for her.

    Originally Posted By: aeh

    As to how she might reintegrate into institutional school...that depends a bit on the timeline.


    1:1 devices are very standard here in public high schools (we have no middle school in our public system, so from yr7 in most states), and often from mid to late primary school in private schools. I could be wrong, but my experience tells me it's far easier to go in to a new school environment here and get agreement to continue what is already being done (or deemed necessary) than it is to get new accommodations in an existing school situation. In particular my experience is that schools are mostly only receptive to addressing a "new" issue they identified themselves and will only want to address an issue in the ways they are accustomed to, or have devised themselves.

    Which is to say I have more hope of resolving this myself and then delivering her back into a school environment complete with a fully functional AT system back than I do of working truly collaboratively with a school to experiment and devise a system.

    Originally Posted By: aeh

    I will note that there is value in learning to read cursive, as otherwise, a fair amount of historical text becomes inaccessible--such as grandma's letters or journals.


    Excellent point! Or letters from elderly relatives...

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    #245854 - 07/11/19 05:22 AM Re: Automaticity & AT [Re: Platypus101]
    MumOfThree Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/07/11
    Posts: 1527
    Loc: Australia
    Originally Posted By: Platypus101
    It sounds like you are in a really challenging place. I read your original post but was hoping someone would first jump in with some of the research you were looking for, as all I can contribute is really musings and more questions (just what you need!). Some of this may thus respond to info since deleted, so apologies in advance if I confuse the details.


    You've definitely helped, not confused, thank you.

    Originally Posted By: Platypus101

    Research: On the research side, I too have been unnerved by frequent claims that handwriting is critical to learning.

    [...]

    My (very) personal, (very) inexpert opinion, shaped by my family as well as oodles of reading what lit I can find and parent experiences in places like this, is that (a) I suspect it may not be true (research seems awful weak), and (b) it probably doesn't apply to LD even if it is.


    That's what is really missing - research that examines in which situations handwriting has a measurable benfefit, and which it does not (ie LDs, truly equal or superior skill with typing, etc)
    Originally Posted By: Platypus101

    As I understand it, the more you can reduce the demand on working memory, the more you can learn. On this, the psych research is unequivocal. When you lack automaticity in writing, reading, spelling, calculation, whatever, all your brain power is sucked up with the lower-level mechanics and little is left for higher-level analysis - or even listening while taking notes. So in general, my advice is to on one hand, do everything you can to increase automaticity and free up brain power. But on the other hand, also do everything you can to just bypass the un-automated skill when *thinking* is the goal.


    Certainly I have read that here and heard local professionals talk about it (though school's never seem to really get this idea), but I haven't seen any actual research so had asusmed it was anecdotal.

    Originally Posted By: Platypus101

    Remediation and A/T: For us, that has meant lots of reading remediation for DD, but read-aloud/ audiobooks and scribing and AT when she wanted to think and produce stuff. She's now self-sufficient with her AT for writing (mostly tablet with word prediction), and reading is decent if slow and needs repeats. We still plug away at spelling remediation (because she is a writer and thinking about how to spell every word when she's writing really screeches her creativity to a halt), but otherwise ignore spelling in her work. One exception remains poetry - when she creates poetry, her brain moves so fast she can't type it, and instead scrawls illegible smudges across her whiteboard, then dictates to me to type up immediately before she forgets it, because even she can't really read it. This summer we're going to practice editing with Grammerly, but that will be a separate exercise from creating written work. (The goal there is increasing independence rather than automaticity.)


    This is really interesting insight into how you work, thank you. Is grammerly more than just a typo/grammar checker?

    Originally Posted By: Platypus101

    For DS the math monster, it has meant taking verbatim notes for him on brainstorming and written schoolwork (he's now pretty self-sufficient typing on a laptop). Also, a whiteboard for extracurricular math, where I've done the bulk of the writing over the years so he can focus on the math he loves without writing getting in the way. (He still prefers the whiteboard, and for extracurricular courses like AoPS and others I have just taken pictures of his work and put them into a PDF to submit - never been a problem). Both kids tried speech-to-text - which is a godsend for many and I highly recommend trying - but mine found it frustrating (it's not great with kid voices, and hard to use at school) and takes a lot of practice too. I suspect DD will go back to it over the next few years, though.

    This is really interesting, thank you, Math being such a particular problem.
    Originally Posted By: Platypus101


    FWIW, both use keyboarding for almost all schoolwork and tests (except math). For instance, DS in high school science will keyboard most of a test, while handwriting formula, diagrams, etc on the original test paper. Anything that involves a full sentence is on the computer. As long as they could handwrite school math and avoid unnecessary writing and repetitive worksheets, we've actually done fine with quite basic AT - mostly what's built into an iPad or Google classroom.


    I don't know anything about Google Classroom, is this something only your children use, or is it a school wide tool?

    Originally Posted By: Platypus101

    I'm matching your original post here for background detail, I realize, and still haven't gotten to the point - but you had a lot of questions! Don't have time to make this shorter smile , so I've added in some headings to help navigate....


    Isn't it always harder to be shorter? Thank you for taking the time for the detail, it's very much appreciated.

    Originally Posted By: Platypus101

    Automaticity: One thing that really jumped out at me in your post was that you mentioned lack of automaticity as well as spelling errors. As far as I understand (another place I was waiting for aeh's expertise!), a purely physical issue like hypermobility would not cause these issues, but a cognitive processing issue like dysgraphia would. From the collective experience of parents here, I have concluded that while physical weaknesses that affect writing can be strengthened, dysgraphia does not seem very amenable to remediation. Any number of people have reported short-term improvements that vanish as soon as the OT etc stops - in other words, automaticity does not seem to improve in the long term. (It's like my kids with LD being able to ace a spelling or multiplication test - and then not remembering any of it the next week, as soon as they stop the constant practice that's keeping it in their short-term memory. It never automated.) So it's important to know what problems you are addressing, and how much you can realistically hope to improve automaticity. Reading is super remediable, and worth every second of effort. Executive function can be improved, though a lot is finding and practicing your own work-arounds and back-up systems. A lot of other LD stuff, however, doesn't automate readily.


    I know all this, and yet it was really helpful to read it, just like this, just here.

    My eldest child has autism, dyslexia, auditory processing disorder - and hypermobility. For her handwriting issues really are about speed/volume and pain. Her handwriting degrades due to pain and fatigue, and her quality of content probably does too as pain and fatigue increase, but She doesn't actually appear to have any automaticity issues around handwriting and written expression, she's just MUCH better off typing.

    Middle child has ADHD and hypermobility (probably my most hypermobile child too), and you're right (and I have somewhat suspected) there are probably automaticity issues at play in her handwriting situation. She's always been the most overtly effected with regard to handwriting, and she basically lost all therapy gains once she moved to keyboarding. The teachers who were involved when she changed to keyboarding were all so aware of how powerful that change was that they then became acutely aware that not keyoarding had to be why Math was the only area that didn't improve. But they didn't have any ideas to address the problem and then we changed schools (for other reasons).

    Looking at what is similar and what is different between our children, I think it is likely that the youngest child will be most like the eldest. Her handwriting holds her back in the classroom and makes her feel bad, but her spelling is excellent and her writing is far above age norms despite her handwriting. So we are looking to reduce handwriting where volume and speed matter, but we don't need to remove it entirely.

    Originally Posted By: Platypus101

    What, exactly, have been the benefits for your older two (concrete as well as theoretical possibilities)? What have been the costs, especially including opportunity costs, to all of you? Are the benefits worth the costs? Are there differences in child 3 vs the other two that would significantly change the nature or weight of those costs and benefits?


    I really needed to have opportunity cost pointed out here. This was a really useful "ah-ha" moment!

    Originally Posted By: Platypus101

    With respect to your Q3, I have concluded that a person with automaticity issues that affect writing can think, or they can write. Pick one. Because you only get one.


    This actually speaks most to the middle child and math. We haven't done enough. We have to find something that works for her. But school is of the opinion that there is "nothing" that helps math and you must handwrite it. So really I think I need to solve this problem for the youngest and then roll it up to her sister...

    Originally Posted By: Platypus101

    Final thoughts. For gifted kids with LD, the question is often much less "Can they do it?", but rather, "At what cost?" They have amazing strengths and compensation skills. With enough time and effort and perfect alignment of the stars, they can do almost anything - produce, say, beautiful handwriting (but it's created as a picture, not automated letters) and do all sorts of impressive things. But just because they could do it once doesn't mean they can do it everytime. That's the very frustrating and confusing reality of LD, magnified for 2E. And when they do it, there's a huge amount of other things they can't do at the same time. They have to have priorities, they have to choose.


    Again, thank you. I must say it to myself again and again. At what cost, at what cost...

    Originally Posted By: Platypus101

    It's been hard for me as a parent who didn't have these struggles myself to understand and truly accept and support and even encourage these limitations and choices. It's been an even harder battle with schools and others who see the ability, and assume the kid could do it all if they just. tried. harder. There are some things my kids can improve a little or a lot, and some in which they will never get much better. And some things that just aren't worth the cost. That's not me being a pessimist, that's just reality. Time is a lot more finite when you're 2E. Choices are harder. Opportunity cost really, really matters. We are enormously fortunate to live in a world where there are so many other ways of doing things. Over the years, I have gotten more comfortable with working around the low-level mechanics as much as humanly possible, and focusing our effort on the higher-level stuff that keeps my kids learning and pursuing their passions and supporting their strengths with as few barriers as possible.

    So that's our experience so far. Sorry about the book!!

    Thank you, this has really helped my confidence in myself about some of the reasons why we chose to homeschool this child and to help me start defining some goals/pathways.

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    #245855 - 07/11/19 05:44 AM Re: Automaticity & AT [Re: Pemberley]
    MumOfThree Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/07/11
    Posts: 1527
    Loc: Australia
    Originally Posted By: Pemberley
    Weighing in from personal experience rather than research. Because, frankly, if research that says you need to write by hand in order to learn was correct my DD would not have learned most of what she knows...


    Pemberley when I was posting here more regularly I think you were still at the first school, at the beginning of this fight for your daughter. It's so wonderful to hear what has worked and the gains that have been made.

    Originally Posted By: Pemberley
    I noticed problems with DD's fine motor and hand-eye coordination before her 18 month check up but it took until age 5 to convince the pediatrician to refer her for an eval.correct my DD would not have learned most of what she knows...


    Completely off topic, but I noticed my youngest child's speech declining at 18 months. I took her to a speech therapist who laughed at me and said she was so far advanced for age norms there could not possibly be anything wrong... I eventually got her in to an ENT who found her ears utterly clogged with wax, they were cleaned and her speech became clearer. And she's been having them cleaned by that ENT every few months ever since...Mothers do make useful observations, imagine if we were listened to more often.

    Originally Posted By: Pemberley
    By that time kindergarten was looming and the OT had to focus on getting her to be able to hold a pencil and try to form letters rather than the many OT tasks that should have been explored first. DD spent the next 7 years with OT's working on her handwriting. Painful, frustrating and not a good use of her time. By 4th grade the OT's said she wouldn't make much more progress and wanted to end the sessions. DD herself said "Mom you can't run away from your problems - you know that - right?" She then went on to explain she may not always have access to her technology and wanted to be able to write a short note by hand if needed so we continued working on handwriting even though we knew it would never be her means of communicating ideas.

    In 5th grade we moved to cursive. Most schools no longer teach cursive but I had read (probably here...) that it's easier for many dysgraphic students because you don't have to pick the pencil up between letters. The OT's used the program ""Cursive Without Tears" which my daughter said "is most definitely cursive WITH tears for me..." She was not one who benefitted from cursive and still cannot read cursive - either handwritten or a font that resembles it. We dropped it in 6th grade in favor of an all AT approach.correct my DD would not have learned most of what she knows...

    I had been pushing AT since 1st grade and faced initial pushback from a well intentioned but woefully misinformed school OT who said it was not developmentally appropriate to introduce keyboarding prior to 4th grade. She insisted that kids needed to learn handwriting in the early grades or they would never develop the skill. (Once I convinced the 1st grade teacher to scribe a story for DD and she compared the level of detail in the 2 page result to the 4 or so handwritten lines DD was able to write herself in a longer amount of time she was convinced but couldn't do much to help convince the OT...) Got approved for an AT eval end of 1st grade but nothing was actually done until the end of 2nd grade. By third grade she was in a Spec Ed school with her program emphasizing AT.


    This is exhausting just to read.

    Originally Posted By: Pemberley

    We started with a chain of AT specialists who would introduce an app or program and then leave DD and her teachers to figure out how to implement it.


    This really speaks to me. I tried to get EquatIO working for my middle daughter last year, but their model was set up around working with schools not an individual parent who had to find a way of making the app fit the school (rather than a teacher deciding to use the app for their class and thus being well set up for it's use). School would clearly have let her use EquatIO - if I could figure out how to make it work without them having to do anything or change anything...

    Originally Posted By: Pemberley
    There was a young Spec ed teacher at the school who took the lead on troubleshooting the AT but while better than handwriting still was far from streamlined. Each technology glitch derailed DD's ability to complete her work.


    This is an obvious risk/issue which I had not considered enough, but really does speak to why various things have failed for us through the years, and why technology seems less scary if we are homeschooling, as the parent, teacher and technology "owner" I will be constantly aware of and remediating the problems until we have a system that works, and there just doens't seem to be that in school.

    Originally Posted By: Pemberley
    She soon learned that she couldn't really rely on anything other than her ears and her spoken voice. She primarily came to rely on oral testing to show her knowledge. We did discover that the built in voice-to-text on iPad 2 or higher worked just fine with her voice after trying and failing to get Dragon to work early on.


    Thanks for this tip re the build in voice to text.

    Originally Posted By: Pemberley

    Getting the right AT specialist was critical. In 6th grade our district placed her in their one day a week TAG program and actually contracted to bring in an OT to work with her for an hour developing whatever AT approach would be needed for that day's classwork. The OT's however refused to work with her on AT. Apparently at some point the 2 fields diverged. Older OT's were trained in AT but for younger ones it was a separate discipline. Much to DD's chagrine they insisted on using that hour to work on handwriting which had previously been declared futile. So while DD struggled to figure out AT solutions on her own (with technology that kept glitching and without the young sped teacher around to help troubleshoot) she also continued to work on handwriting. Very frustrating situation.


    This just makes me so mad for her and you!

    Originally Posted By: Pemberley

    After a few false starts we found the perfect AT person who said it was her job to not only determine the best technology, apps and programs but work with DD on knowing which to use when, troubleshoot, streamline, train the school and teachers, etc. THAT'S what you probably need.


    I am just not sure that such a person even exists in my city (or possibly in the country)

    Originally Posted By: Pemberley
    It took months to untangle all the mess created by previous AT snafu's. She had the school district purchase new equipment (DD uses a chromebook, an iPad Pro, iPhone 8 and an older mini she was gifted and used as a life preserver when the district issued iPad malfunctioned so badly.) She has a long list of apps and programs to do just about everything. The AT specialist's mantra is "Work smarter not harder" because DD had gotten used to just spending more and more hours doing things in a convoluted way when she had no AT support. (She would write, copy, edit, email to herself, copy, place in another app, etc whatever she needed to do when she didn't have a single program to do everything for her...) She worked with DD weekly and they went through every project or assignment DD had while she learned to streamline her process. The AT specialist also works with each teacher to assure they know what DD's process needs to look like. Both DD and the teachers have been traIned in how she uses voice notes. (She records the classes, can type shorthand notes to bookmark certain areas, take photos of the notes on the whiteboard, etc.) It's all way, way over my head but DD is now totally independent. They meet in person maybe once a month and the AT specialist zooms into her classes or to discuss any problems she's encountering. This past spring DD copresented with her at a conference for teachers and administrators explaining how AT makes her education possible.


    This is such an amazing high note to this story, I am so glad to read it. And wish we could find our own such expert!

    Originally Posted By: Pemberley

    Interestingly DD LOVES to write. She writes stories, songs, scripts. Whenever she has free time she writes. However the problems she experienced with the glitchy iPad a few years ago makes her reluctant to use voice to text even though it is MUCH faster when it works. She insists on typing everything which is a longer, harder process and her dyslexia means there are tons of spelling errors. She has some programs that allow her to move between keyboarding and voice recording it she gets really stuck on a word.


    This is one of the many parts of your post that really emphasize the importance of AT being well supported and issues immediately addressed so there can be trust for the user.

    Originally Posted By: Pemberley

    I'm not sure if this helps or if you are looking for more specifics about what programs and apps DD is using. If so maybe provide a specific list of tasks and I'll find out what DD is using. (ie a worksheet that can't be done by hand can be photographed, filled out on an iPad and printed, emailed or shared by Google) The only thing they haven't come up with a workaround for (other than scribing) is handwritten group activities like "foldover stories" in a creative writing class.

    HTH


    It has really helped, I would be really interested in how specifically she does math. I think questions about other areas of learning or types of tasks will come as we get going.

    What I had hoped to get an impression of from asking these questions was partly what sort of device would be most useful to her at the moment (ie laptop because typing is most important or ipad because video, photos, voice to text and using a pencil are more important). And between other research I have been doing and thinking through all of your posts I am getting clearer on that decision.

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    #245856 - 07/11/19 05:48 AM Re: Automaticity & AT [Re: aeh]
    MumOfThree Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/07/11
    Posts: 1527
    Loc: Australia
    Originally Posted By: aeh
    Throwing in the little bit suggested by research, from a cursory scan:

    Prior research on learning and memory for handwriting vs typing appears to have been at the letter level (preschool/kindergarten students) or the word list level (college students). The letter-writing study found significant differences for older preschoolers (near K age), but had many design limitations, while the word memory study found no significant differences for free recall, and very mildly significant differences (p = 0.036) for recognition. Both study groups were relatively small (only 13/12 students in the preschool study, in the age condition with significant results).

    For notetaking, it appears that the differential benefit obtained in studies that find one from handwriting lecture notes over typing notes comes from the different notetaking behavior exhibited by typical college students. That is, handwritten notes tend to force students to organize, summarize, and synthesize content in their own words, whereas the content of typed notes tends toward verbatim transcription, which, apparently, many people can do without actually processing the content.

    IOW, it is not handwriting per se that helps in learning and memory, but organizing, summarizing, digesting, and synthesizing. Which I think we knew already!


    Thanks AEH, yes I think the articles I have read about the value of handwriting which seemed most sound it has ben about the WAY that people worked with handwriting. Which is not the handwriting itself... So that suggests the importance of fostering good study skills in a digital format if handwriting will not be their method.

    I do also wonder how much these studies account for whether the test subjects learned all their learning related skills in a handwritten format vs having well developed digital skills. I have a huge automaticity advantage in typing. Some people would have a greater advantage in handwriting.

    I did find one interesting study, I will see if I can find the link, I have way too many tabs open at the moment!

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    #245857 - 07/11/19 06:12 AM Re: Automaticity & AT [Re: MumOfThree]
    MumOfThree Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/07/11
    Posts: 1527
    Loc: Australia
    Just adding three articles I did find quite interesting, for various reasons:

    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jcal.12323

    https://thestableoyster.wordpress.com/2016/11/19/building-automaticity-in-handwriting/
    I thought it was really interesting that the author noted the problem of how schools emphasize neatness and how this interferes with obtaining automaticity because the child focuses on the wrong thing and never learns what they fundamentally need. Our OT did always focus on how the pencil was held (ease the death grip), muscle control, flow, also size where bigger = better (middle child has books full of various types of patterns she practiced daily for the hand OT, and alphabets, etc).

    https://learningspy.co.uk/writing/handwriting-matters/

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    #245858 - 07/11/19 06:47 AM Re: Automaticity & AT [Re: MumOfThree]
    Pemberley Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/07/11
    Posts: 729
    The wonderful things about good AT specialists is their ability to adapt to unusual situations. I wonder if MY AT PERSON could help you. I mean what's the difference between her zoooming in across the state in the US and zooming to the other side of the world? PM if interested and I will send her contact info. At the very least she may have professional contacts to point you to where you are.

    DD can't use just one device. She carries a backpack as big as she is because different tasks require things that are only found on one or the other. She shares most work through Google. But then again she has 11 diagnoses - issues with info going in as well as coming out. Your kids may not be as complex. She has an external keyboard for her iPad so you don't have to be limited to a laptop for that feature.

    Math is done 1-1 with a special ed math specialist. DD prefers to work with pencil and paper although she has been introduced to some math apps. I know she used one for plotting a graph for a lab report. She has literally no automaticity in math but gets the higher level concepts. It's so individualized for her I'm not sure how much I can help in that regard.

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    #245859 - 07/11/19 07:27 AM Re: Automaticity & AT [Re: MumOfThree]
    MumOfThree Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/07/11
    Posts: 1527
    Loc: Australia
    Thanks Pemberley. I feel like a iPad is the way to go for now, but we have spare laptops available if needed, though I suspect there is a good chance she won’t need as many options as your DD. And we’d definitely set her up with an external keyboard if we went with an iPad. I have sent you a PM.

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    #245865 - 07/11/19 04:39 PM Re: Automaticity & AT [Re: MumOfThree]
    aeh Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3457
    If you are not restricted by the iPad-native apps that work best for her, you may also consider one of the many laptops with stylus-ready touch screens.

    And on a little side note: one of our children is currently fascinated with NitroType (parallel site to typing.com), and after hearing me talk about the relationship between how one processes notes and typing, has taken to reporting the content of the typing activities to me a couple of times a day--I think, to prove that one -can- retain information from verbatim typed notes, if sufficiently motivated!

    Oh, and this is a child with completely age-appropriate fine motor and handwriting skills, and reading/spelling skills apparently commensurate with cognition (so not dealing with any additional exceptionalities), whose writing is also far and away higher in quality and in quantity when typed than when handwritten. Insisting on handwriting doesn't only impede students with disabilities. Which is yet another example of why I feel there is no reason to mandate handwriting beyond a pared down list of essentials.

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    #245866 - 07/11/19 06:31 PM Re: Automaticity & AT [Re: MumOfThree]
    MumOfThree Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/07/11
    Posts: 1527
    Loc: Australia
    We aren’t (yet) constrained by any particular iPad apps. We are however running a complex Apple and Unix ecosystem. We were required to purchase a surface pro for the eldest child starting high school some years ago and the pain involved in integrating that into our home, especially backing it up, means that we’d have to be very motivated by specific AT not available on an Apple device to purchase something windows or chrome based.

    Love the story of your child proving the dominant theory wrong with daily updates.

    In terms of not needing to pay attention to content while typing, this would also be true of handwriting for some people, and many other skills are open to processing thoughtlessly...My first boyfriend was a linguist, and a proofreader for a British newspaper (when this really meant something). I remember having him proof read my essays and later asking what he thought. He’d look confused and say “I didn’t read it! I just fixed it! You have to tell me if you want me to actually read it...”

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    #245867 - 07/11/19 07:05 PM Re: Automaticity & AT [Re: MumOfThree]
    aeh Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3457
    That's an impressive piece of dividing aspects of written language! So it appears your friend was able to separate the semantic aspect of reading entirely from grammar and mechanics. I know I can read a document only for the latter when the content is beyond me (I proofed my sib's doctoral dissertation in a field far removed from my own areas of expertise), but I'm not sure if, without setting out to do so, I could switch into that kind of proofing only mode if the content were readily accessible. I'm sure he had lots of practice. I can, however, read lengthy passages out loud with expression, without processing any of the content.

    And I agree, it seems the same would be true of handwriting in some cases.

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    #245868 - 07/11/19 07:47 PM Re: Automaticity & AT [Re: MumOfThree]
    MumOfThree Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/07/11
    Posts: 1527
    Loc: Australia
    I am not the best proofreader anyway, but I absolutely can’t proofread without reading for meaning, or trying to. On the other hand I can totally read children’s books aloud with expression and have no recollection of what I just read at the end...

    My husband has been known to fall asleep at the computer and type his dreams, that’s some next level automaticity...

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