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Dysgraphia options: HWT, OT, typing


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From reading threads here and other websites about dysgraphia for the last two years, it seems that there are really only three options that people consistently bring up:
1) HWT and/or cursive
2) OT
3) Teach them to type and throw in the towel on handwriting anything.

I have several kiddos who are both dyslexic and dysgraphic. 11 yo has barely legible handwriting but is a fluent typer (not quick, but can turn out a page of double spaced, 12 pt font, writing in an hour), so we are mostly on #3 with him.

7 yo has even worse handwriting and more emotional struggles with writing. She will spend an hour crying over one sentence of copy work that takes her only 5-10 minutes to do. We've done some OT, but moved last year to a location where it's not realistic to continue OT for dysgraphia at this point. We've done / are doing some HWT and cursive. We spend a lot of time practicing with different mediums (air writing, kinetic sand, cloud dough, chalk, wet/dry/try, etc.) I've read a LOT (and was coached by the last OT) regarding proper posture, positioning, grip, strength, etc. I cue her on letter formation on virtually every letter she writes when printing (e.g., she's about to write an 'o' or 'a' or 'd', so I quickly remind her to start at the 2 o'clock before she writes it). 

Any other ideas for what we can be doing at home to address this? I just want to make sure that I'm not missing options that I haven't considered yet.  I'd really like to do all I can to remediate this while she's still young enough to have it actually have an effect. I don't feel like one short sentence a day should be cause for quite as much tears as it usually elicits.

ETA: We have already started the 7 yo on both typing and voice typing, and she gets around with that pretty well (given that she's 7, lol).

Edited by 4KookieKids
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I don't know, sigh. Our team finally was like give up on the handwriting. Right about that age too. His IEP says scribe for anything above a sentence, and frankly I never ask for even that. It's like 40 minutes for a sentence, sigh. His VMI is very low, and frankly doing things like DRAWING did more for his ability to write (by bumping his VMI, hello) than OT ever did. Well one OT had him drawing and I was like ok but we can do that at home. 

So I would say draw every day. VMI=visual motor integration=> see it, motor plan, draw it. So draw right now, little doodles they copy, drawing contests (pick an object, everyone draws). Whatever. Drawing contests are what we did. Drawing a little something every day is going back on the plan. I'm hoping to teach him cursive this year. I have zero thought that he'll write, but who knows. 

At this point, with that really chilled approach, he'll just kind of out of the blue write some words. They look tidy, comfortable, low stress. Your typing success with your ds is a BIG WIN. Whatever you did, do that again, mercy. Typing is on my this is the year we win on it list. So far it has been rough.

Edited by PeterPan
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  • 3 weeks later...

What about tracing instead of copying? At 7yo my dyslexic+dysgraphic DS 10 was dictating his responses and tracing what someone else carefully scribed for him (he was in public school). If he'd been homeschooling I would have let him trace his copywork.

And I second drawing, if that's something your kids are interested in. It might be early for the 7yo, but you could still try. If either has perfectionist tendencies and are likely to get upset if they can't draw what they have in their mind, you might try to guide them toward more abstract or cartoony drawings or even an adult coloring book (not adult themed, just the kind with lots of tiny details).  

My dysgraphic (no dyslexia) DS 12 would still cry if you asked him to draw a simple triangle at age 9. Around 10-11yo he discovered political cartoons and was motivated to create his own, and later short comics. He's made simply amazing progress in the fine-motor department over the last two-ish years between his drawing and origami folding. We're still solidly on step #3 of your list, but if he had to write something (short) by hand, he could now, with messy but readable handwriting and no crying.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you both. I will definitely incorporate drawing. They do like it, but are perfectionists, so I appreciate the heads' up regarding that challenge. 

On a different page I'm on, someone just posted rave reviews of this for their dysgraphic son (it seemed she'd tried everything else, but OT was out of their reach). I'm tempted to give it a try since the reviews are fabulous and it's a lot simpler than driving four kids to OT that's 90 minutes away (each way) on a regular basis. lol.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Handwriting-Intervention-BUNDLE-4405410

Edited by 4KookieKids
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On 9/21/2020 at 8:32 PM, 4KookieKids said:

Thank you both. I will definitely incorporate drawing. They do like it, but are perfectionists, so I appreciate the heads' up regarding that challenge. 

On a different page I'm on, someone just posted rave reviews of this for their dysgraphic son (it seemed she'd tried everything else, but OT was out of their reach). I'm tempted to give it a try since the reviews are fabulous and it's a lot simpler than driving four kids to OT that's 90 minutes away (each way) on a regular basis. lol.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Handwriting-Intervention-BUNDLE-4405410

I think those resources look very reasonable--I hope they are a big help! I am going to mention some red flags if you continue to have trouble. We have a variety of factors in our house leading to dysgraphia (and also disorder of written expression), and some of it is anatomical vs. a learning issue or an OT/reflex issue.

I looked at the preview, and one thing that they mentioned is far point copying. If you notice issues with near or far point copying, it can be vision related (which can also be related to retained reflexes), or it can directly be a result of retained reflexes. I think it's STNR reflex that makes the hands and eyes move together long past time. What it ends up looking like is the student losing his place all the time. So, my son would move his eyes to copy something new, and his hand would move too. Then, when he looked down to copy (from near or far point), and his hand would no longer be where it was before. Or, he would move his hand to write, and his eyes would move, so he couldn't just look at one spot while writing in another. It was maddening but not particularly obvious. When he worked on Moro reflex and then specifically on STNR/ATNR (which wouldn't improve without Moro work in his case), it was so, so helpful!!! If it's not a reflex issue, it can be an accomodation issue with vision. More on that later.

So, anatomy problems--if your child is hypermobile at all, that could be part of the issue. My son is hypermobile, and his fingers are disproportionately long due to a connective tissue disorder (the length is specific to his CTD, but all people with a CTD are going to be hypermobile, possibly in the hands). Kids who are hypermobile might need stabilization to write better; some people where a variety of finger and hand splints for support or to avoid pain, though not everyone finds their hypermobility to be painful in and of itself. In my son's case, it helped a great deal to play an instrument because his piano teacher very, very carefully built up his finger strength and stability while making it fun. Handwriting issues are nearly ubiquitous among people with connective tissue disorders, but oddly, it's not mentioned a whole lot in the literature. In attending a conference for people with my son's disease, we found out that it's a HUGE, huge issue. Some connective tissue disorders are life-threatening (most are not), but even the serious ones have specialized monitoring that can often normalize life expectancy, so I wanted to suggest a genetic evaluation if hypermobility is an issue with your kiddos. Many people who have a CTD are not diagnosed. My son's is rare--between 1 in 5000 to 1 in 10000 with 50% of people affected being undiagnosed. The life expectancy for undiagnosed people with his condition is around age 40, but it's within a few years of normal with treatment. Anyway, sorry for the long-winded PSA! 

Vision issues--you probably have heard of VT and things like convergence problems. My son has accommodation issues that are sometimes worked on with VT, but due to his specific CTD, that aspect of VT won't work for him. He might eventually use bifocals. His CTD causes the tissues that hold the eye lens in place and help it focus to be loosey-goosey, and it also causes moderate to severe near-sightedness/astigmatism that also contributes to near-focusing problems. Again, this is not a factor for all CTD's, but it is for some.

Finally, Rooted in Language has some resources as well. I did not feel like their specific resources for dysgraphia were helpful for either of my kids, but lots of people do find them helpful. You might check them out after working through your packets if you feel like you want a next step or additional ideas.

Both of my kids have functional handwriting to a point, and then we use accommodations or typing for the rest. Once keyboarding is established, we type Sequential Spelling to reinforce spelling patterns and motor patterns simultaneously.

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On 9/21/2020 at 8:32 PM, 4KookieKids said:

Thank you both. I will definitely incorporate drawing. They do like it, but are perfectionists, so I appreciate the heads' up regarding that challenge. 

On a different page I'm on, someone just posted rave reviews of this for their dysgraphic son (it seemed she'd tried everything else, but OT was out of their reach). I'm tempted to give it a try since the reviews are fabulous and it's a lot simpler than driving four kids to OT that's 90 minutes away (each way) on a regular basis. lol.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Handwriting-Intervention-BUNDLE-4405410

I was just going to reccomend Print Path! Their materials are amazing. My son practiced handwriting using a variety of programs for preK and K, and STILL couldn't make pretty much ANY letters when he hit first grade. Not even numbers properly. Nothing. 

We went to Print Path, starting with Numbers Now and then Lowercase at Last and going on from there, and it was amazing! He doesn't have great handwriting, but legible, and he makes most letters properly or close to it. It's a huge difference. 

We also make sure to do lots of monkey bars, climbing, etc and I'd advise encouraging some writing or drawing on an verticle surface like a white board, above the shoulder, to encourage shoulder muscle development. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

All these resources look great! Something that I have used is the clock to teach the letters, but I made a page with clocks so my kids could write on each clock for small words. Also, in my case my kids needed the color doted line in the middle differentiated from the red baseline vs the blue top guide. My kids had no spatial connection to all black lines. Look at the screen picture of the design for upper case.

find a free sample download here.

Mrs. Q

 

watermark clock paper sample I made.jpg

Edited by homeschoolkitty
including a picture
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