Handwriting problems (dysgraphia)

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by letsteach, Jul 14, 2012.

  1. letsteach

    letsteach Comrade

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    Jul 14, 2012

    I am a kindergarten classroom teacher and I have a student who joined my class from another school. I know we start from what a child can do, but I am stumped by this child. She literally cannot sit still, cannot maintain eye contact for 10 seconds, cannot listen to instruction, cannot process instructions, has a 1 minute attention span and has difficulty concentrating. The above traits are not worrying me as they are manageable. (From observations, I do believe she has a deficit disorder but mum thinks everything is OK). We work one on one with her as she cannot process instructions as to what she needs to do with activities. I thought that all the phonics I had taught she had not retained, however upon oral testing, she knew quite a few (half of them). However she cannot put sounds together eg, c-a-t and will guess any sightword.

    The concerns I have for this child is that despite having 5 practice sessions to write a letter (whiteboard, 2 x worksheet, handwriting book and a homework sheet) she cannot write a single letter. We practised direction from left to write using wavy lines, curved lines and a straight line. She could not draw anything that resembled a straight line.

    It is as though she has some kind of processing problems when it comes to writing. (I have begun to research dysgraphia). Her gross motor and fine motor skills are age appropriate. Any suggestions as to what I can do in the classroom to help her? If this is the case, who is the professional that helps a child like this? We have parent/teacher interviews soon and I would like to have all my facts and examples ready for the parent.
     
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  3. WaterfallLady

    WaterfallLady Enthusiast

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    Jul 14, 2012

    I'd start the RTI process now if your district does it that way. If not, begin the special education referral process.

    She also should be evaluated by an OT (handwriting) and maybe a Speech Language Pathologist if you think she is not processing language well.
     
  4. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Jul 14, 2012

    If Bros doesn't chime in here, send him a pm. I bet he would have some advice for you.
     
  5. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Jul 14, 2012

    Save copies of her work so you can document her lack of progress.
     
  6. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Jul 15, 2012

    If the parents don't accept a disability, it will be difficult.

    I suggest trying a few things:
    1. Try using the small golf pencils, see if that helps
    2. If it doesn't, try a thick pencil. That might help.
    3. Try getting raised paper - http://www.therapro.com/Raised-Line-Writing-Papers-C307763.aspx - You can buy a pack of like ~100 at staples.

    Make samples of normal, then smal, then thick, then the same with raised paper
     
  7. letsteach

    letsteach Comrade

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    Jul 15, 2012

    We use a pencil grip called the 'claw' and I don't think the problem is pencil grip. The raised paper is an idea I will try.

    I am getting to the point where I feel I need to be brutally honest and blunt with the parent. I am sure they must realise that she can't write letters as her homework is returned having lots of erasure marks on it.
     
  8. fromupnorth

    fromupnorth New Member

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    Jul 15, 2012

    Boy, it sounds like a lot more than motor dysgraphia going on. Something like 75% of people with Aspergers have some form of dysgraphia (Only mention this because you talked about lack of eye contact.) If Aspergers is playing a part then the below idea might not work depending on the amount of sensory issues. Could be auditory processing issues and the list goes on .... A comprehensive assessment is needed (and I would suggest privately), significant working memory issues, ...

    Just like students with dyslexia, children with dysgraphia need to practice the fundamentals to automaticity - this often takes at least 10 times as long as with a child that isn't affected by this neurological disorder. The approach must be multisensory. Oh I could go on.......

    Try and teach handwriting in sand/kosher salt, shaving cream, carpet squares. Always with two fingers as it forces them to use more of their arm.

    A visual-motor integration test may show a some interesting results .... Consider working on small motor skills/strength/ with tongs, a tennis ball with a cut in the middle - so you can squeeze the ball to pick up objects. You could practice "writing" with mazes.
     
  9. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Jul 16, 2012

    The different sized pencils can help with motor control.

    Being brutally honest with the parent is not the best approach.

    You might want to say something like "So i've noticed Susie has been having a lot of difficulty with her penmanship, perhaps you should talk to her doctor about it?"


    The processing issues could be ADHD or something exacerbated by being unable to function in the classroom. I had a lot of difficult with eye contact when I was younger. ADHD and Dysgraphia comorbidity is more likely than a female with aspergers.

    Make sure the child doesn't have any sensory issues before having them "write" on their desk in sand/shaving cream. I have many bad memories of having to write in shaving cream. I still do not like the feel of it to this day.

    The child should be referred to the child study team for a full evaluation. Hopefully the OT does a variety of testing (The GORT and the Beery Buktenica Test of Visual Motor Integration would be excellent ones to be done on this student) and hopefully the parents know of their right to request a full evaluation at public expense (aka an IEE)
     
  10. letsteach

    letsteach Comrade

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    Jul 16, 2012

    Thanks for all your helpful comments.

    I think the 'brutally honest' part is how I feel I want to be rather than I will actually carry it out.

    My initial gut instinct with her was ADHD. She is not aggressive, does not get frustrated and has no negative interactions with the other children. She does have an organisational problem (she never puts anything away properly, her lunch bag and school bag are on the floor next to her cubby locker, even when we first come into class in the morning she will leave her bag outside!).

    Today I was observing her when another teacher was taking the class (she had been reminded to sit nicely by the teacher, so while trying to sit still, she was nodding her head backwards and forwards as the teacher was talking). This prompted me to think that I might video her behaviour (or have my teacher aide video when I am teaching) . What do you think?
     
  11. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Jul 16, 2012

    Don't video her behavior unless the Parents give permission for her to be formally evaluated for sped.
     
  12. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Jul 17, 2012

    The best person to observe such behaviors would be the school psychologist, or whoever performs psychological evaluations/puts together FBAs for the district.

    Fidgeting could be caused by numerous things, ADHD being one of them. It could just be the fact that she's in Kindergarten that she fidgets.
     

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