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    #204322 10/27/14 12:54 PM
    Joined: May 2010
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    DS6 has been working really hard on his printing for the past 9 months. We are doing Handwriting Without Tears with the help of an OT. He practices his printing every single day of the week, we use three different fun apps and I have bought countless HWT items to keep it fun and fresh. He is happy enough to do the work. He doesn't have the 'hate printing' gene that his sister has, even though his printing is much worse. His VMI was <15%ile and he will almost definitely be getting a dysgraphia diagnosis after his next round of testing this winter.

    The frustration part is on my side. He has been doing HWT religiously and has made very little progress. What he can do in a session, with me by his side, is rarely ever transferred to his printing in real life. For those of you who have use printing programs for dysgraphic children... how well did they work? Did you notice any improvement? If so, how long did it take?? At what point/age did you accept that it is as good as it will get and move on to keyboarding? The app is purchased and loaded... Or, did you continue to work for an extended period of time?

    The rational part of my brain thinks that 6 is too young to stop working on it, especially if he is willing to continue with the daily practice. The pessimistic mother of two 2E kids in me thinks I should pull my head out of the sand and move on with teaching him to type. There probably isn't a right answer, I realize, and what works for one child might not for another but I would welcome any opinions or advice you can offer. I think I am starting to burn out. The thought of redoing elementary school with kid #2 is so exhausting that it hurts my brain to think about it.


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    We were advised to start teaching our ds to type right away when he was diagnosed (2nd grade) and to provide scribing for ds at school until he could type. We were also advised to try HWOT long enough to get ds' printing "as good as it will get" and then to move on. HWOT didn't work at all for ds - so we didn't try for more than a few weeks. Our ds did benefit from handwriting OT and made good gains there in terms of legibility, pencil pressure, posture, easing wrist pain - so that was all good.

    The reality of dysgraphia though is - we were told from the very start that our ds would never be able to rely on handwriting to show his knowledge, and that prediction has proved to be true over and over and over again. As soon as he was a little older and able to explain what dysgraphia is like (from his perspective) he's been very clear - he has to think through how to form a letter *every* time he writes it. He will tell you numbers are "easier" because there are only 10, not 26, to remember. He learned how to write a really nice-looking cursive script in 4th and 5th grade, when he class practiced cursive every single day. He went on summer break after 5th, came back to 6th grade in the fall, and couldn't remember how to write *anything* in cursive other than his name. Today, when he has to sign his name, he still practices it before he writes it down where he's supposed to sign, just to be sure he writes it correctly. FWIW, my ds is not about to turn 15. He's a teenager - but he still will describe what it's like to use handwriting as "I have to remember how to make the letter…." etc.

    So my opinion is of course biased, having only worked with my ds, but jmo, for a dysgraphic child - I'd drop the handwriting practice now - you've obviously given it a really good try and it's obvious your child is not making gains with it. Keyboarding practice should begin asap whether or not you continue with the handwriting lessons.

    Life with a disability such as dysgraphia can be frustrating for a child, and I think it helps to frame decisions such as this (giving up the handwriting practice) with a look at - how much time is it taking up, and what is my child giving up in order to sink time into the remediation? Giving my ds an opportunity to work on things he was really *good* at and could enjoy were equally, if not perhaps *more* important when he was in early elementary school. Having an LD, being "different" from other kids - all of that can really eat away at self-confidence. OTOH, if you can give a child an accommodation such as a keyboard that will help them stay afloat in class, while also giving them the chance to be truly successful at something they enjoy and are strong in - you're giving them a chance to build self-confidence - and when a child has an LD, they typically can really benefit from an extra boost of self-confidence.

    Just my 2 cents (+ a few extra cents lol!) -

    Best wishes,

    polarbear


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    polarbear has a lot of experience with this, so I would give serious consideration to the above advice.

    I will add one thought, though, on transfer and generalization. If you see that he can do the printing in isolation, but that it doesn't transfer to live writing, you might consider if enough deliberate transfer training is occurring. I don't know how your OT is having him practice, but it is important to move from practicing letters, to practicing words, to taking dictation of phrases, then sentences, and then, start the progression over again with composition: generating words, to phrases, to short sentences, to longer sentences. A dysgraphic child will not readily transfer without explicit practice. You will probably also have to coach him through applied tasks, cueing him repeatedly for letter formation/grip/pressure while he is writing (very) brief samples. If he reaches the point where he does it consistently in live writing (of whatever level) with cueing, then you can start fading the cues gradually, and then move to the next level of live writing, most likely starting over with cues.

    He may reach the point where the cues become automatic, or he may, like polarbear's son, always have to cue himself consciously. Be prepared for anywhere from one extreme to the other. Mainly, don't feel like you have to stress yourself or your son about reaching a specific place on the range of handwriting automaticity, and do remember how many things are higher priorities (effective written and oral communication, happiness :)) than handwriting per se.


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    DS8 has had an IEP for 3 years now. He gets OT. They did the HWT program. His acomdation allows him to type. He started that at 6. His printing is still pretty awful although it's soooo much better than it was. But his cursive is 10000x better. Cursive has been so much easier for him, it's something about not having to lift the pencil. Here was a NYT article about it too. It's very strange in printing he makes he letter differently almost every time but cursive it looks the way it's supposed to more or less. It's still not as good as most kids his age. So he did HWT in K, 1st and 2nd, and in second they did the HWT cursive program. With the OT he is still doing printing with the goal of legibility in terms of forms and fill in the blanks, and that kind of stuff.

    So my view - typing and HWT is the way to go. He will feel confident and successful with the typing which makes dealing with HWT easier. Plus the better he gets at typing the easier it is to express his complied thoughts which if your DS is like mine he can't do by printing.

    DeHe


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    I have to agree on the cursive showing a much better return on investment of effort. We started OT just before DS turned 7. OT said it was pointless working on printing and moved straight to cursive. That said our experience was similar to PBs. He did go backwards when we took a break over the summer. We only worked with the OT for about 6 months and that has given us, as PB said, much better posture, less wrist pain etc. Our OT said she didn't think she could do much more after 6 months, it was really just a matter of practice.

    There's certainly no harm in starting typing now.

    The big improvement in DS's writing has come with medicating for his ADHD. Beforehand I'd poo poo'd the idea that it would improve his writing but I've happily been proved wrong. Having looked back at your earlier posts this doesn't seem to have been the case for your DD though. DS will actually just go into his room and write now with no prompting. Turns out he's quite the poet!

    A mechanical pencil does wonders too.

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    Thanks so much for the great advice. And the extra 'cents'!

    I, too, have a very biased view because both of my children are dysgraphic. I struggle on a daily basis because I want to help them do as much as they possibly can while at the same time not expecting more of them than what they can actually do. I don't want to underestimate them anymore than I want to overwhelm them. But, finding that balance is so much harder than one would think. They are two different kids and they both react differently to their struggles. Thanks for giving me the confidence to go with my gut reaction. We'll meet with the OT next week and then move on from there.

    Now, on to dealing with junior high math struggles... (seriously, does it never end??)


    Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it. — L.M. Montgomery

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