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Handwriting suggestions please

(78 Posts)
claw2 Mon 22-Apr-13 10:46:06

Ds aged 9, has great difficulty with writing. He can write if its something that interests him, but other than that just refuses point blank.

He has hypermobility, uses the wrong muscles etc to write with, so its obviously a tiring experience for him.

His tutor has tried a scribe etc, but it doesnt appear to make it any easier for him.

His tutor has just left, she couldnt get him to write and has left it for me to do.

I have tried encouraging him. He has some sweets he can have after and ive told ds no x-box etc until he writes 2 lines.

Any suggestions?

Badvoc Mon 22-Apr-13 12:23:43

Great.
Hope it works out for him smile

claw2 Mon 22-Apr-13 12:24:10

Thanks for the advice everyone, im off to Argos smile

Will also try and keep the handwriting going in other ways, as you have suggested.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Mon 22-Apr-13 12:36:05

Take it you still have Doubting Thomasina as a tutor?

DS is not in school due to extreme anxiety - her priority is to reduce it and to do what is necessary to reduce it and build trust. Her focus should be on what he needs now rather than what he 'needs' to fit back into a m/s classroom.

DS1 uses his laptop for tutor sessions and is allowed to choose whether he wants to write or type. Written text is kept to a minmum using multiple choice, lists etc. Even after around 2 months she would not risk asking him to do free-writing.

I remember when DS1 first went to the CPOC clinic in 2008 that they were very clear that 'stress' is not purely psychological but is also physiological and involves the release of hormones and chemicals that severely affect cognitive abilities. If DC become stressed you are unable to positively intervene and must stop. If DS1 has problems with narrative construction and inference and problem solving etc they will be much worse following several hours stress and make it much harder to engage in free-writing.

Badvoc Mon 22-Apr-13 12:42:10

The tutor should be coming up with ideas to help him claw.
Thats her job.
I really wouldn't give the tiniest shit how she felt about in all honesty.

TimidLivid Mon 22-Apr-13 13:03:25

I dont know if this has already been suggested but may be as he has hypermobility it is painful for him to write and the longer he does it the harder it is the hand grip lessens with tiredness. so you could maybe cut down his writing to a bare minimum and see if he could use a school laptop . with my ds he can write but it can never mechanically look any better his handwriting and it is as sore now at 14 as it was at 8 years old, he has hypermobility and we thought practice would help , but after they know how to write well enough to be understood and its been at the same level for years the written letters are probably not going to improve much but if they can use a laptop or similar the content does not have the impediment of pain and the feeling of not keeping up or making progress.

zzzzz Mon 22-Apr-13 13:04:48

If he likes spy sort of things what about invisible ink?

You write in lemon juice (or pretty much anything organic) let it dry, then cook it in the oven to reveal the secret message.

claw2 Mon 22-Apr-13 13:30:32

Keep, the tutor is ok, in as much as she sees first hand exactly what ds is like. She sees me having to carry him down the stairs, refusing to engage with her, hiding from her etc, etc. So i am obviously believed on that front now.

Its more the reasons behind why he behaves like he does, that she seems to find difficult. Despite her having read OT reports, where it clearly states he uses the wrong muscles to write, grips the pencil so his fingertips turn white, doesnt put enough pressure , forms letters incorrectly etc, etc. She still sees it at him being 'lazy' or 'trying it on' kinda thing.

Im fed up with trying to argue the toss, all i get is "we all have to do things we dont like doing" etc.

She doesnt come up with ideas to help, her way is to force. I have enough 'enemies' as it and despite everything, the tutor is clearly onboard in as much there is no way he will cope in school, without a statement and support.

claw2 Mon 22-Apr-13 13:40:16

Timid, he finds it very effortful and is slow with writing. His writing was age appropriate a few years ago, but i do think as you say, its kind of stopped there.

Everyone has made recommendations of a laptop with appropriate software, keyboard practise, scribes etc.

The tutor tried a scribe once, for the first time every with ds and decided it didnt work after one attempt. She is also insisting that he write with pencil, despite him telling her he doesnt like the feel it makes on the paper and he struggles with adding more pressure to get the pencil to mark the paper. I let him write with a pen, which he finds easier.

UnChartered Mon 22-Apr-13 13:56:00

oh dear, it doesn't sound as if she knows much about your DSs conditions though.

has he tried drawing pencils, with a softer grade graphite?

claw2 Mon 22-Apr-13 14:11:40

He avoids pencils totally, its pens and felt tips for drawing.

Apparently she isnt a MS teacher, she has worked in the PRU unit for years. She is used to teaching very 'disruptive' children.

Ds isnt 'disruptive' as such (although not engaging with her, having to be carried down the stairs, is disruptive obviously) he is generally extremely quiet and well behaved to the extreme.

TimidLivid Mon 22-Apr-13 17:49:53

thats awful she doesent seem to understand if he is gripping the pencil untill his fingers turn white it will be hurting as it would if did anything untill our fingers turned white. my son couldnt tell me when he was small just that he somehow he knew before us that he was trying to write but some thing about his hands was different and he coudlent express it to us. we found out when he was eleven about his hypermobility and it was like being slapped ,suddenly we could see why... and what had been staring us in face for so long. At least you know from an early age. I used to say he has trouble with his hands but I didnt know what it was. This teacher needs to understand it hurts and it is not easy for him and he will be making a big effort when he does any writing its just wont yield the same results as a child without hypermobility.

Ilisten2theradio Mon 22-Apr-13 18:24:15

I know that this is a bit "out there" but DS had similar but nt a bad issues writing due to the hypermobiity and weak hand muscles and AS.
We found that after 6 mths of doing shoulder strengthening excercises from the Physio for a shoulder problem as he kept dislocating it, that a side effect of this was that his arms and wrists and fingers were stronger as he had to do exercises holding small hand weights.
His handwriting suddenly improved hugely too ( although The teachers manage I have problems!), and his resistance to writing became less as it became less effortful.
We also have hand exercises from the OT to do daily ( they are done at school as part of his statement) which are also slowly helping to build hand strength.
Any good?

claw2 Mon 22-Apr-13 18:29:38

He cannot use a knife or fork either. His handwriting isnt awful, its just the amount of effort and the time it takes for him to write. If he is required to write more quickly, his writing then becomes much worse, capital letters in the middle, big spaces, letters back to front and you can hardly see it as the pressure he applies becomes so light.

He has done the writiing now, after shutting himself in a room for a good hour, with a blanket over his head. He then called me in to 'surprise' me, bless him.

PolterGoose Mon 22-Apr-13 19:03:30

Ridiculous! If he was in school he'd be using a pen for everything except maths.

Has he been assessed by an OT for pen grips etc? There are loads of aids and different pens that can really help. Does he have a Move'n'Sit and writing slope? Is his chair at the right height for the table, really important with hypermobility, ds's OT was pleased to see he is still in his Tripp Trapp as it massively helps his posture and means he is at the right height for comfortable writing.

Ds was a reluctant writer for a long time. We concentrated on drawing and avoided formal writing, instead getting him writing using bath crayons, pavement chalk on the patio, old fashioned slates, big whiteboard, anything that wasn't pen and paper. I photocopied lots blank word search grids so he could make them for me to do. As time moved on he made posters and leaflets to teach me stuff. He likes making his own versions of books he has read so I would help him make little books. He and dp would write stories taking turns writing a bit.

I'm lucky that despite ds's hands being ridiculously hypermobile, they don't hurt, his pen grip is all wrong but he manages without discomfort so it'll have to do. He cannot use cutlery either, but as he doesn't eat anything that requires cutlery it isn't a huge issue for us.

zzzzz Mon 22-Apr-13 19:18:04

I've had some success with a graphite artists pencil and very textured drawing paper. The weight of the pencil seems to help as does the very very soft lead. I bought it because I had forgotten to order something lose on line and needed it for the next day. I had a half cocked idea that I might put it on a radiator and see if heat helped. (Ds has hypermobile finger joints that cause him some pain).

www.google.co.uk/products/catalog?q=graphite+crayons&client=safari&hl=en-gb&num=20&bav=on.2,or.&bvm=bv.45512109,d.ZWU&biw=1024&bih=672&um=1&ie=UTF-8&cid=3324118756967042591&sa=X&ei=uH11Ub_kK4bvOr66gLgL&ved=0CGgQ8gIwAQ

These ones. I got mine for less from Hobbycraft.

White boards help ( and when they say they can't keep the writing, advise them they can be photographed with a phone or photocopied).

claw2 Mon 22-Apr-13 19:30:35

Polter, same here, ds only eats finger food, so not really a problem.

He has been assessed by OT and various difficulties identifed, but this was private OT so she has recommended that state registered OT provides programmes etc for the difficulties identifed by her. Laptop for extended writing, scribe, seat wedge, sensory diet etc the usually stuff.

He sits on the settee when with the tutor and writes on a coffee table which is knee height when sitting on the settee. He has hypermobility, curve in the spine, poor posture, poor fine motor etc.

He doesnt have any equipment, just a pencil.

PolterGoose Mon 22-Apr-13 19:56:58

Sorry, but sitting perched on the sofa working at a coffee table is atrocious shock

Do you have a table he can sit at? If not can he use a clipboard? That worked quite well for ds for a bit.

OTs don't usually provide the equipment our children need, I've had to buy everything ds has needed, which is fine, we get DLA.

The pen grips usually used in schools are rubbish for children with hm because they are either too hard or too shaped, ds got on well with noodle doodles which are a good fiddle toy too.

PolterGoose Mon 22-Apr-13 19:58:17
UnChartered Mon 22-Apr-13 19:59:31

DD finds one of those lap-trays with the bean-bag type thing on the back great for doing fine motor, she likes being enclosed and the weight of the tray suits her fine

maybe this could be a compromise for DS if you don't have a table he can sit at?

claw2 Mon 22-Apr-13 21:12:27

When he writes with me, he sits at the kitchen table, however the kitchen is a very busy place in the morning with my kids getting ready to leave for college etc. We only have the front room or kitchen.

Ds gets DLA too, but unfortunately i am so far in debt having to pay for experts, solicitor etc for the statementing process, i dont have much spare at the mo.

zzzzz Mon 22-Apr-13 21:54:19

What time does the tutor come that the kitchen is SO busy?

Could the others not use the other room and let the Tutor and ds sit at the table?

He will do significantly better sitting with his feet on the floor (or up turned bucket), and in a proper chair.

claw2 Mon 22-Apr-13 22:00:52

She comes at 9am, i did ask whether she would require a little table and chair or a desk prior to her starting and she told me that is she needed one should could get one from school.

I hadnt given his sitting position and handwriting much thought until now.

PolterGoose Tue 23-Apr-13 07:45:27

I really think your older ones need to prioritise ds and his tutor and get up and out before 9 so they can use the table...

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Tue 23-Apr-13 09:27:53

Be aware that if you do appeal at a later point, the tutor will provide a Statement as evidence to the tribunal. This will follow a pro forma and there will be a section specificially on recommended transition and setting.

DS1 has two tutor statements. Both witnessed anxiety and resistance. One says that he will be fine in the m/s but that I have made the transition difficult by exaggerating his needs and taking him out of school - ie I am the 'cause' of witnessed anxiety/resistance rather than SEN. Luckily I had her removed and her Statement is considerably weakened by the fact that she only taught DS1 for 5 hours. The other, by his current tutor, says that he needs a specialist setting, small classes, small school etc.

What do you think DS's tutor will put in her Statement?

claw2 Tue 23-Apr-13 09:31:25

Tutor was fine with the dictaphone and even suggested that ds could use the laptop to type instead of write!

Although she does have a habit of not following through with my suggestions, we will see.

The front room was choosen for various reasons (obviously not taking writing into account) and i can certainly ask if tutor would prefer the kitchen and tell my older boys the kitchen is out of bounds.

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