Does touch typing help?

(19 Posts)
whethergirl Fri 16-Aug-13 14:02:43

Hi, my ds aged 8 is academically about a year behind at school - in both maths and literacy, but especially writing.

He has suspected dyslexia, although they are unwilling to statement him until a couple of years time. He definitely has Irlen Meales (aka Visual Stress) and is now wearing tinted lenses which have really helped. He gets lots of support at school.

The school have suggested he learn touch typing before now, and he has been doing the BBC touch typing course online. However, I'm now wondering if that time is spent doing educational stuff.

I think the idea is, that if he were to learn to touch type, he could do this instead of writing (at least for homework) and it would help him in terms of his work being elligble.

But surely he would be better off practising his writing and spelling? Or am I missing something?

BigBird69 Fri 16-Aug-13 18:39:26

My son is also 8 and is statemented for very severe dyslexia. He is a good three years behind with literacy and maths. My son too severe to get to grips yet but I think it's time we'll spent (IMO) it has been suggested a lot since there is a whole world of software to help out in this technical world! Have you tried nessy fingers?

whethergirl Fri 16-Aug-13 20:09:17

I meant - I'm wondering if that time is better spent doing other educational stuff!

Thanks BigBird, haven't tried that one, we've been doing the BBC Dance Mat typing - but will look at Nessy fingers. Presuming you know quite a bit about dyslexia then - would you say, it's something that can still be improved by practice? So, for example, DS gets his b's and d's mixed up (both in reading and writing). So would practising reading/writing b's and d's improve this or would it be fruitless?

nennypops Sat 17-Aug-13 11:36:41

I think any child should learn to touch type, and it can be particularly helpful for dyslexia. It is much easier to take notes that way, for instance, particularly because you don't have to keep looking from a whiteboard down to the page and back again and therefore don't lose your place. The ability to type is if anything becoming more important than writing.

I'd strongly recommend that you contact a specialist dyslexia teacher. There are all sorts of techniques and strategies that can be used to help with particular problems more effectively than making a child keep practising.

insanityscratching Sat 17-Aug-13 11:46:20

Ds who has dyspraxia was taught to touch type at school in year four it's a great skill to have and very useful particularly for secondary when homework, coursework etc are all typed. By the time he left y6 he could type 45 words a minute. He still had to write and that improved in time although he prints rather than use cursive script but in secondary it was far more useful to be able to type than it was to write tbh.

BigBird69 Sun 18-Aug-13 10:01:12

My son is particularly severe and yes does transpose lots of letters, d b being the obvious ones but also p q, m w etc. I bought a lower case key board. It is brightly coloured with different colours for vowels, numbers etc. this does help but it's a slow and repetitive process. X

BigBird69 Sun 18-Aug-13 10:02:54

Ps: nessy fingers is a touch typing package designed for dyslexia x

whethergirl Sun 18-Aug-13 10:30:17

Thanks for your replies...I'm still a bit unsure though. I'm in no doubt that touch typing is a useful skill, but there is only so much 'homework' I can do with ds during the holidays and wanted to focus on what would be most useful. If I was home schooling him for a whole day, then yes, I would definitley include touch typing.

But again, I wonder if by becoming proficient at touch typing, he will be avoiding handwriting and progessing at all. However, as you mentioned nennypops, the ability to type is just as, if not more than important as handwriting. I can't afford a specialist dyslexic teacher, but some of the teachers were given some training at ds' school and began a dyslexia club involving lots of activities. We did the full course, however I didn't find it that useful, as I feel dyslexia is a problem that is unique for everyone affected in different ways, and the activities were very generalised.

It was the school dyslexia club that introduced the BBC touch typing course, I'm surprised they didn't recommend nessy fingers considering it's designed for dyslexia!!

BigBird69 Sun 18-Aug-13 10:42:10

Yes, I totally get where you are coming from in so far as holiday work is concerned. Tbh it is the holidays and there is only so much you can expect!! I try to keep to little and often and varied. Nothing worse than a battle! I think the typing is worthwhile as it covers reading and spelling. The school has recommended my son does things like maizes and join the dots etc so that he is having to be accurate with a pencil even when he's not writing words and because he finds writing so hard it helps without him knowing wink My son goes to a special dyslexia school x

whethergirl Mon 19-Aug-13 00:13:22

That's a great idea about the mazes/dot to dots, never thought of that! DS does struggle to have control with a pencil.

Yes I try to do little and often too, which is why I want to really make it count iyswim. But I can't expect too much you're right, and even if I just make him read for 10 mins then it's got to help, right?! He is so reluctant to do any kind of 'homework' so I don't want it to become an issue.

That's brilliant your son goes to a special dyslexia school, how great that he is getting so much support. I didn't even know they existed!

whethergirl Mon 19-Aug-13 00:14:49

Also, came across this which looks fun.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Mon 19-Aug-13 13:38:12

DS1 is dyslexic (amongst other things). He is now at a indi specialist school but he was taught touch typing at m/s primary. Slow writing speed, processing difficulties, poor working memory etc all play havoc with keeping up with the amount of work required in KS2 ime and DC can fall further and further behind.

DS1 did not reach a stage where he could type faster than he could write but even if he had, his primary school would have expected him to write during lessons. However, the benefits are not necessarily about speed but the ability to use both hands (something to do with using both sides of the brain), and to endlessly edit and add to the text without having to rewrite it.

The older DC become the more important typing rather than writing becomes. DS1 was seen in the CPOC clinic back in 2008 and the doctor stressed the lack of importance of the skill of manually writing in the real world post-primary education. Handwriting does not have value in itself, the value lies in the ideas that are presented by those marks on paper. Unfortunately primary schools put so much emphasis on neat handwriting that DC come to think it has intrinsic meaning and come this can negatively effect their self-esteem and perception of themselves as a learner.

The doctor also recommended the use of Dragon Naturally Speaking software which you can use on a PC or on a small Dictaphone to produce text from the spoken word. DS1 also used the Speak and See suite and a pen that scans and speaks individual words. You can get a letter from the school SENCO and avoid paying the VAT on some Nuance products.

whethergirl Tue 20-Aug-13 23:54:52

Thanks for your post KeepOn, lots of helpful info there.

What do you mean by indi specialist school, do you have a link?

DS' school is very supportive, and his next class teacher already said it was fine for DS to type all his homework if he found that easier. As I'm sure you already know, homework can take much longer for DS to complete. I never knew about the added benefit of typing of using both sides of the brain, so that's useful to know.

It's true what you say about handwriting, so in that sense I guess it's logical to help ds improve his typing rather than handwriting. I am studying at uni and I take all my notes on my laptop, and obviously all work has to be typed.

The Dragon software looks good but I'm wondering how it would translate into written work i.e. how we speak is not neccessarily how we would want to write. I would imagine quite a lot of editing would be required? Especially as DS is not particularly a 'fluent' speaker, he gets a lot of words mixed up or mispronounces.

The pen sounds good, can you tell me what it's called?

Thanks again for all your help, it's much appreciated.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Wed 21-Aug-13 11:36:21

DS1 is at Frewen - www.frewencollege.co.uk/page/default.asp?pid=1&title=Home

The dragon software was problematic for DS1 was he was 7/8 as it has to be trained to your voice, accent, etc which involves reading text. DS1 had a lot of verbal tics at the time that Dragon would attempt to interpret - cue meltdowns. On the other hand, I have found it fantastic (I am writing up a PhD). You still have to mentally formulate the sentences and dictate them but for DC it takes away the extra work of consciously thinking how to form a letter if handwriting has not yet become automatic. Learning to write is like learning any other physical task like driving. With practice it is not necessary to consciously think about letter formation and we can focus on what meaning we want the words to convey. The idea is that DC do not need to develop automatic sequencing before they can start to focus on the meaning.

The pen is the Reading Pen 2 (Oxford) made by Wizcom.

whethergirl Thu 22-Aug-13 22:29:25

Frewen looks amazing, I hope your ds is happy there.

Yes I can imagine the dragon software being problematic, I think I will put that on hold until DS is a little older. I love the pen...but again, especially as it would be difficult for me to afford, and I'm not sure how helpful it will be for ds right now - he may not even want to use it because of some minor reason (he's a right fusspot). But will definitely keep in mind for the future.

I get what you're saying about writing being automatic though...all of ds' energy is spent on the handwriting and so the content becomes secondary. I do help him with his homework though, normally I ask him to talk to me about it, I take notes, and then help him to write it out.

Thanks again for all your help. DS is the only dyslexic in his class so do feel I'm on my own with all this. In contrast, practically half my class at uni are dyslexic!

betterwhenthesunshines Sat 24-Aug-13 10:55:36

Hi, my daughter will be going into year 4 in September and was assessed last year. We had huge improvements after following vision therapy exercises to help with tracking and accommodation problems, she doesn't need coloured lenses but has some glasses with a very slight prism that she says don't do much but her reading is definitely more fluent when she wears them. They are also bifocal so help her adjust more swiftly when she is looking up at the board etc.

She also followed the EasyRead program. It is expensive at about £800 but it took away a lot of stress for her and was a very easy way of covering a phonic system without using books (cue panic!) or spending money on a tutor.

It takes a lot of time as a parent to support a child with dyslexia, I think a huge issue is their own self esteem so it's good to find things they are good at... My daughter like playing Pictureka! which is a board game a bit like Where's Wally and is good for fine tuning visual skills. Also we play lots of card games as we find she can remember what has been played (try German Whist for 2people)

I had plans to work with her over the summer, but we have been too busy doing holiday stuff - I thought she would read if that's what everyone else was doing, but she has read just 4 chapters herself all summer and things have really gone downhill in terms of speed and concentration without regular practice!

When you say your son spends most energy on the handwriting, do you mean the hand control or the spelling? If it's the letter formation then there are lots of OT exercises than can strengthen fingers.. Picking up Hama beads with tweezers, untying a ball of knotted string. You may also want to look at the Apples and Pears workbooks for spelling - you start by just filling in letters but words are then copied and repeated and used in sentences so you get a lot of writing practice too.

betterwhenthesunshines Sat 24-Aug-13 11:00:38

Sorry , all that and didn't really answer your question!

I also think touch typing will be hugely useful and reaction end yr 4 or start of year 5 is a good time to learn. But until then I think it's better to spend time on the basics at this stage - you still need to be able to work out the basic building blocks of words and the correct formations before you can type them enough for a computer to auto correct them. Touch typing is not going to teach you that, only time spent reinforcing phonics and word structures will help with that.

whethergirl Sat 24-Aug-13 23:00:39

I'm with you there better - on one hand I was looking forward to the Summer so I could spend valuable time helping DS with his literacy/numeracy, on the other hand - especially as the weather has been generally good - it's been hard to find the time! DS lack of enthusiasm doesn't help either. However, I have been helping him with reading quite regularly - can't really go wrong there.

The problem when he is at school is that the regular homework he gets is enough for him really - especially as it takes him longer than others to complete it. So it's hard to find the time for extra activities to help with his dyslexia.

How highly do you recommend the EasyRead program better? I am lone parent full time student so can't actually afford the £800. However, if it's really worth it, then I'd try and borrow the money.

We play lots of games too - Brainbox is a good one. Pictureka looks like fun - but how does 'fine tuning visual skills' help wth dyslexia?

I think all aspects of handwriting are a problem for DS. He does play with a lot of fiddly things like lego, knex, etc. - I'm not sure if that helps. Will look up Apples/Pears, thanks, I have given him similar workbooks.

It's true what you're saying about typing in the sense that even if he could type, his spelling would not be good enough for auto correct to help.

Thanks so much for your opinions and advice, all very useful!

I looked up Nessy Fingers today and tried the trial, it's very different to the way DS has been learning touch typing with the BBC version. Does anyone have experience of using both, and would you say it's worth paying out for Nessy Fingers? Again, I'm on a tight budget but will find the money if it really makes a difference.

betterwhenthesunshines Mon 26-Aug-13 13:55:24

I agree what you mean about fitting it in once regular school homework starts again.... not looking forward to that.

Visual skills are thought to part of the cause of some dyslexic symptoms (more for some people than others) - things like not being able to converge ( bring together) your eyes and hold things in focus, switching between different focal lengths, keeping focussed on the point rather than being distracted by peripheral visual stimuli, being able to track along a line without your eyes jumping; all make a difference. Behavorial optometry can check all that stuff and give you daily exercises to do. I would imagine that Pictureka works on similar things in that you have to be focussed. eg one of the exercises we got were with lego bricks on a board that the child should spot the difference between 2 almost identical patterns - you make these up yourself and can develop them eg you build a pattern and the child then has to make exactly the same pattern without looking at the original. You make it easier or harder as necessary, eg you can then ask them too build it with a 90 degree rotation. All to do with visual processing and visual memory

EasyRead was great for us as she had developed almost a fear of trying to read as it was so hard, so things like Toe-byToe we couldn't do as she had such an aversion to books and being asked to read at all as none of it made sense. EasyRead links pictures to sounds so you learn to trust the blending of sounds into words and then it gradually links the sounds with the relevant letters underneath, so the ape picture for the sound 'ay' would appear above ray, cape, drain etc so you could still read the word by linking the picture sounds without having to work out the different spellings. They say that by retraining the way your brain interprets and makes the links it will also have an impact on spelling but although her spelling has definitely improved I would say it is more help if you are struggling with the reading. It is limited to 10 minutes a day and on a computer so it was well received here! You can do a trial lesson - it may seem basic if your son is reading OK, but it could be worth speaking to them. You get regular telephone support too. The cost is split over 10 months rather than upfront and you don't pay anything after that even if you are still working through the program, or continuing onto the spellmagic part. If you want to PM me I am happy to let you know more.

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