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Language arts for kid with hypotonia and poor fine motor precision

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Ds9 struggles with handwriting terribly. His handwriting is like that of a 6yo. It is painful for him. His pinch strength is below average, and he is using his forearm muscles instead of his finger muscles when he writes. He has poor control at his fingertips.


He'll be in OT for this (and other issues). But I am sort of stuck about how to handle language arts, given these things. Do I make him keep doing HWT cursive (his cursive is atrocious, despite having finished the 3rd grade book)? Copywork is torture for him. But I don't want to forego having him practice writing, as obviously that's where he needs to improve.


I'm thinking of taking dictation when it comes to writing projects. His vocabulary is excellent and I don't want his expression slowed down by these motor issues. But in terms of spelling, grammar, mechanics, handwriting... I don't know how to have him practice this stuff without writing, you know? Thoughts?

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Calvin has/had coordination issues. We worked on handwriting separately from other English: he dictated all his work to me or we did it orally, and only slowly moved to his writing for himself. He found typing much easier (less strength required) and now has special permission at school to use a laptop for exams.




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Several months of OT actually made a really big difference for dd in her ability to write without pain. So it might be if you just wait a while, work around things, by January things will be a big different. In the meantime, you might introduce typing. I ended up switching my dd to Dvorak, which is where we finally got success. There's some research or theory or something about kinesthetic memory helping spelling. So if he types and uses his words that way, he's still working on spelling. You can also work on it orally, with tiles, etc. etc. We did lots of that when she was young. Nuts, we did that when she was older too. :)


BTW, kids with low tone often end up having their eyes impacted as well. If you haven't hit the developmental optometrist, you might put it next on your list. Sometimes they're holding their hand a certain way and getting tension there because they're straining to focus or converge. Won't be everything, but it may be one more piece of the puzzle.

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I have a dysgraphic 9yo currently in OT. He does WWE2. The narration is fabulous for him. I scribe for him when he gets tired for other written work. He also learned how to type (using Dancemat and Type to Learn) and completed both Click'n Spell and Wordy Qwerty. He is really pretty good at spelling now - his written output is just very laborious, but the spelling is good, and he's pretty good with workbook type grammar work or doing it verbally. We are going to keep plugging away - this fall he will use a writing-prompt program, but I will help him by doing it with dictation and scribing and then letting him type what he dictated to me.


And he had done a lot of sentence editing in the Evan Moor Daily Language Review workbooks (at a lower grade level),and this year will continue with those and also add Daily Paragraph Editing. His comfort with editing is helping him with writing.

Edited by laundrycrisis
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And there is plenty of time, although I know that panicking feeling when your child is "behind" what other kids are doing. Believe it or not, my daughter finally took to copywork as a fourteen year old, once her vision problems and spelling issues had mostly cleared up. Within a couple of months she'd written nearly fifty pages of quotations, and like magic, her punctuation, capitalization, and other conventions of writing clicked because she wasn't having to pay attention to how to form her letters or how to spell each word, and she finally had the stamina to write more than one page at one sitting. Now you'd never know she ever had such problems. On the most recent standardized test she took, which in California bestows upon those who pass the official equivalent of a diploma, she got the highest possible score on the writing task. And this is a child who five years ago had hand strength in the 2nd percentile, who couldn't write more than ten or so words without pain, and who couldn't spell much more than three letter words.


Give your young child the gift of time without pressure to perform in writing at a level he can't manage; use that time to work orally, make language study engaging and creative, develop hand and body strength, check visual processing (has your child been evaluated by a vision therapist?), read lots of great books together. It will take time for everything to come together, but it will come together in the end. Many kids on the SN board have experienced tremendous leaps forward in their writing abilities between ages 11 and 13 or so -- early adolescence. This was true of my daughter as well. They're on a different neurological timetable than many kids, and although you can nurture them and prepare them and lay the groundwork, you can't MAKE that neurological leap happen just through force of will or all the copywork in the world.


Thank you! This is *so* encouraging. I know his mental capabilities are there, but it has just felt like there are so many hurdles to cross, and he is so obviously below the ability levels of his peers (and actually, even below the level of his precocious 5yo brother :( ). This helps me so much to have a longterm view and hope for the future. Thank you for sharing your story and for all of the wonderful suggestions!

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Right there with ya!!


We have our DS10 in PT at the moment and Speech, but we're skipping the OT. She doesn't impress us.


To be honest, we took him to a FABULOUS chiropractor (this guy doesn't pull the "come in 3x a week for .... the rest of your life" stuff that most do. He says, "We can probably fix this in...two, maybe three visits." And he's RIGHT.) and got him adjusted for the first time. I have seen BIG gains in his handwriting for the first time in six years. It's...gasp!...legible!


I'm only having him write out spelling (AVKO, Sequential Spelling) lists at the moment. Everything else he types. We like Nessy Fingers for typing instruction. (We messed around with HWT for years. Never worked.)


He copied a paragraph from "The Door in the Wall" book this morning. Missed a couple of little words ("a, the") and two capitals, but not bad overall. It was still hard for him, even typing it out.


You can't practice handwriting without writing with your hands...for sure! But the rest isn't that hard.



Type out spelling words

Spell words orally

Choose the correctly spelled word from a list

Try the "My Spelling Test" app (customized for your personal list)

(One more plug here for AVKO Sequential Spelling. My son wrote "Ete befe" last year for "Eat beef" and this year he can spell "beginning" on his own.



We're still doing FLL with grammar. The writing hasn't been horrific; I tend to make worksheets that he fills out on the computer. (Replace the underlined word with a pronoun, etc.) I'm not sure how diagramming sentences will go, but I'm fairly sure we'll work something out.



You're onto something there. We took a writing class (KidsWrite Basic: http://www.bravewriter.com/program/online-classes/class-list/kidswrite-basic/ ) from BraveWriter (.com) a few months ago, and it was REALLY effective. I would recommend it, and DS10 says it would be worth taking again, so all in all...pretty good stuff! It will focus way more on him finding out what he has to say, and far less on grammar and mechanics...you can work on that stuff once the ideas are down on paper.


He ended up writing a three-page essay. (I can email it to you if you'd like to judge the quality of the outcome.) I kept every scrap of communication that went between me and the instructor...and it follows the basic Writer's Jungle program they sell, so the idea is that you can replicate that on your own again and again. It's more training YOU the parent on how to bring words up out of your kid. :)

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