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    Joined: Apr 2011
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    Originally Posted by Pemberley
    She is no longer at spec Ed school so no longer working with awesome reading teacher so I don't anticipate much improvement in spelling. I have been told her spelling will likely improve now that she is reading text rather than relying solely on audio books.

    Pemberly, given the era I went through school and where I went to school I was never diagnosed with anything (at school). But I was a classic 2E kid and my spelling improved continually until I started to develop cognitive issues due to health problems in my late 30s. I didn't read well (understatement) until upper primary, I read avidly during high school and I am sure that this helped. However I believe that the single biggest factor for me improving my spelling was moving to full time keyboarding at university. Once I was keyboarding full time I slowly got better and better at spelling, I feel like the rate of change was far faster in this period than during years of advanced reading in highschool. My spelling was never amazing, but did become markedly better than anyone would have imagined during my schooling. All those things people say about needing to use the pencil to develop muscle memory, aid learning and retention etc... All seem to be true for me with typing and absolutely the opposite with a pencil in my hand. I have new problems now with typing that weren't there 10 years ago, but there was a time that I could reliably feel that a word had been typed incorrectly and go back to fix it. Whereas I still struggle to spell reliably on a hand written shopping list or a note to the kids' teacher/s... So don't assume she's done. She could be, she might not be.

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    Further to my own post, my greatest spelling weakness is still spelling aloud, but it was only after I had my own children in school that I went from zero ability to do this to having some limited capacity. People don't stop developing and learning at some magic age, even core skills like spelling and reading comprehension. And gifted children grow into adults who possibly have more chance than average at continuing to push past their other Es and make unexpected gains.

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    aeh - I was recently offered the opportunity to have DD's AT instruction taken over by an SLP. I turned it down assuming we needed someone with an LD specialty. Was I too hasty? Could there be a benefit to having an SLP/AT connection like you saw with the SLP/OG combination?

    Earlier this year we had a top notch AT Eval by someone who specialized in AT for LD kids so we have a framework of her current needs in terms of apps, programs and equipment. Our new focus is note taking and streamlining her use of the AT. ie Try to get some of her cumbersome 5, 6 or 7 step processes down to just 2 or 3 more efficient steps if possible. Or is the speech connection you mentioned related to spelling totally separate from the use of AT? As I said earlier unlike Geofizz's son DD has gotten voice-to-text to work pretty well. She switches between keyboarding and voice-to-text when having difficulty with a specific word.

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    aeh Offline
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    The principal benefit of having an SLP work in conjunction with decoding/encoding intervention is that they can give more specific instruction regarding the exact oral-motor sequences that generally produce certain speech sounds, and then directly tie that to the graphemes, so that even if the student can't quite generate the correct sounds, they have an additional (oral-motor) tag to connect phonemes to graphemes. And sometimes it even helps their articulation. A lot of learners reach a point where they are stimulable, but have trouble re-training old habits, which is partly an automaticity deficit. (Not an SLP, so I'm getting a little out of my range here, but this is what I'm told by my SLP colleagues.)

    Whether your DD would do better with an SLP or LD learning specialist managing AT isn't clear cut. But if you've maxed out on whatever she had before, then it probably wouldn't hurt to have someone with a slightly different angle try. I've had building AT specialists who were SLPs, and were very successful with students of a wide range.

    I'd also comment that I actually have seen students whose spelling improved after adopting routine AT, as they were now consistently seeing correct spellings (vs their own questionable spellings), so even if they continued to struggle with phonetic decoding/encoding, at least their visual memory of correct spellings was being reinforced. It's not the most efficient way of learning spelling for most people, but the learners we're talking about aren't most people.

    For streamlining AT, when generating written responses, I usually recommend speech-to-text for first drafts, then editing and revision via keyboard/wordprocessor (with spell/grammar/style checkers engaged, and thesaurus function). For note-taking, it depends on whether she's taking notes from a lecture with/without visuals, with/without diagrams or symbols, in what content area, etc. In the classroom, I would also suggest accommodations that are not solely AT, such as teacher-provided electronic notes (skeleton during class, and complete provided after class, so that she adds some of her own notes in real time, but doesn't have to worry about missing anything, since the complete notes will be available after the fact). If you have SmartBoard or similar technology in the classrooms, the teacher can also print screenshots of the board as s/he goes along, and provide those as a copy of complete class notes after each class. Or if no SmartBoard, your DC can be allowed to take photos of the board on whatever approved digital device she has with her.


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    Wow, Pemberley, what amazing progress! All that hard work has paid off. And to pass on the impact of your experience and your openness in sharing it, I passed on to a local family how your DD had two different reading groups while the reading/decoding vs comprehension split was so high. This approach has now been applied locally.

    We got our OT report on DS' handwriting. Again, his giftedness is being blamed. No one has taught him to write. Argh. The OT suggests that he'll just have to slow down and recopy more neatly. In the OT assessment, she had him slow down to copy more neatly a writing sample I'd provided from several weeks ago. The writing sample had 6 spelling errors out of 24 words. In recopying, he fixed one error and introduced one. Since his spelling is now supposed to shift towards aggressive editing, it seems to me that he'll have to do everything 3 times. Compose. Edit. Recopy.

    Yes, I know all this should be done with typing/AT, but I still don't see a reason he can't be taught to hand write. We have no evidence for a reason why he can't write legibly, which leaves me pointing back at his lack of 1st grade instruction.

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    What is the reason you want him writing by hand? As a 4th grader DD herself asked to stay with OT longer when it was suggested it wasn't worth the effort. Her reasoning was that she wouldn't always have access to technology and needed to be able to write a note by hand if necessary. By 6th grade she declared "Continuing to work on handwriting is a bloody waste of time." She can now form letters, more or less the same size and facing the right direction. They don't necessarily stay on the line and aren't always spaced properly. So technically her "handwriting" has improved but when combined with her dyslexic spelling no one but an experienced sped professional can read what she wrote. It's a lot of time and effort with minimal tangible result. I'm proud of her for sticking with it but I agree that there are significantly better ways for her to spend her time.

    Over the years many people have pointed out that few people really write by hand "in the real world". Voice notes and keyboarding are now everyday methods used even by NT adults. I thought they were just being kind but I am seeing it more and more. I still write notes by hand during meetings but frankly more often than not I can't read my own handwriting later. I'm trying to push getting DD an AT work around for note taking - I see that as her biggest challenge to re-entering a mainstream environment. But for just about everything else her AT seems to serve her pretty well. Last year when she participated in the district's TAG program with gifted NT peers her AT approach was in some ways a benefit. She saved hours not having to copy things she had written by hand and was able to work more easily with her research by copying and pasting between documents on her iPad. I realized that all those kind folks had a point.

    While a can see a semester working with an OT on hand writing basics I'm not convinced at this point there is a huge benefit to him spending a ton of time on this. His academic needs will be getting more complex and I would rather see him have time and energy to focus on learning new and interesting material rather than arduously handwriting then copying over and over trying to correct spelling. He could type using spellcheck and then edit once. From my perspective this would leave more time and energy for actual learning. I know it works better for my DD. Just a thought. I credit Polarbear with emphasizing this over the years as I tried to figure out the best path for DD and her challenges.

    Great news about local families benefiting from DD's high/low situation. Bit by bit 2e kids are getting what they need as we share our experiences. It warms my heart.

    I had DD try the thesaurus technique aeh outlined above and we discovered google docs doesn't seem to have one built in. We loaded a thesaurus app but I'm wondering if we're missing something. It would be easier to tap a button while working on her document rather than having to copy and paste between apps. Any ideas?

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    aeh Offline
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    There's a free Thesaurus add-on you can get to from the toolbar at the top of GoogleDocs. Doesn't seem to work very well, honestly, but you can also use the native "define" function, as that will also generate a list of synonyms in the sidebar, which can be easily cut and paste into the document.

    On handwriting: I feel that a reasonable goal for handwriting is being able to fill out a form, and write a one-line note. Any writing beyond that, we all typically use AT, so why sink unnecessary energy into more work on it.


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    geofizz Offline OP
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    Handwriting: yes, filling out forms, etc, are necessary, but also doing math is really difficult to do with any AT tools out there. Imagine 4 equations and 4 unknowns, something he was just asked to do. It took the front and back of a page, and he made an error someplace (couldn't read his writing).

    But fundamentally, I fail to see why no one is willing to even try to teach him. I understand moving to AT when interventions are deemed to have taken him as far as they can (like spelling, in his case), but no one seems to have ever been willing to even see if the source of the problem is lack of educational opportunity (skipped first grade) or dysgraphia.

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    I wonder if a quick trial of Handwriting Without Tears would be helpful? I don't know if an older child would benefit but it would probably ease your concerns and certainly address that basic handwriting instruction issue. FWIW DD hated it - she said "for me it's most definitely writing WITH tears" but people swear by it. Maybe someone here knows if there is a home version worth trying.

    Has your district ruled out dysgraphia? It seems remedial instruction from an OT to address your concerns would make sense and not be terribly time consuming or use too much in the way of resources. I just ran the question by DD and she feels strongly they have to determine if he's actually dysgraphic. "If he's dysgraphic it's not going to make any difference for him." Just a bit of btdt advice from one 2e kid to another...

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    aeh Offline
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    HWT definitely sells home versions. It's one of the more popular handwriting curricula used among homeschoolers. They also have a free app for practicing letter formation using their wet-dry-try technique. They also sell keyboarding programs, and bundled handwriting/keyboarding packages. You'd probably want to try the grade 2 program, as that is the last grade that works primarily on manuscript. (FWIW, they even have workbooks in Spanish, French, and Hebrew.)

    For math AT/speech-to-math, look at EquatIO (chrome extension) and MathTalk (Dragon product for math), among others.


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