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Mrz or others - doing a WISC test on a teenager with a funny pencil grip?

(24 Posts)
Zenyattadottir Wed 10-Nov-10 14:27:35

Ds has had crappy handwriting since primary school. He dropped a grade in a few GCSE subjects where his terrible handwriting can't have helped. He's now doing A levels.

I've been trying to find a tutor to help him improve his handwriting. However I was advised yesterday to forget it, and instead to try to get him WISC tested in the hope that he might qualify to use a laptop in exams. Obviously that would help him enormously.

I'm pretty sure he hasn't got any cognitive problems with handwriting (if cognitive is the right word) just a very dodgy pencil grip. Is WISC the right way to go, do you think?

His handwriting really is very hard to read, so not a minor problem.

LetsEscape Wed 10-Nov-10 16:55:21

Have you considered an occupational therapist assessment and programme. They tackle exactly this sort of thing?

Zenyattadottir Wed 10-Nov-10 17:41:46

Is it occupational therapy - for a schoolchild? He's in the sixth form.

LetsEscape Wed 10-Nov-10 17:57:39

Occupational therapists do work with children and fine motor skills as well as adults. At his age difficult to get on NHS but a private OT probably can help if he is motivated to do something about it.

I am not sure you need an Educational Psychology assessment for just a handwriting problem (btw I am an EP).Can the SEN department at school run some tests for handwriting speed etc on him and apply for access arrangements on his behalf? Does he use a laptop all the time in school? He would have to show that the problem is severe AND it is his usual way of working. You need to do this quickly though as exams will be soon upon us.

Zenyattadottir Wed 10-Nov-10 18:18:42

Thanks, LetsEscape. He is motivated, we just don't know what to do. I first raised it with the school when he was 11 but they have never offered any help. He never uses a laptop at school, although he would love to. Bad handwriting is certainly his usual way of working - he can't write any other way!

It's because of the shortage of time that I'm thinking we might have to go the private route.

The SEN people at school have been aware of the problem for some time, so I don't hold out much hope there. He is bright, so his grades aren't bad, just worse than they should be.

My son is much younger yr3 and is seeing a private OT. She has done a handwriting analysis with him looking at issues like speed, pencil grip etc. She also administered the Beery-Buktenica Visual Motor Integration test inc the separate visual and motor subtests to see if there were any specific issues with visual / motor skills and how the two work together. This test can be done up to adulthood. More info here

Zenyattadottir Thu 11-Nov-10 10:46:22

Thanks, Chaz. So that's another vote for a private OT. Does your ds use a laptop for school? Does the OT recommend that?

mummytime Thu 11-Nov-10 10:55:17

IF your son usually uses a laptop for school he can use a computer in exams, but this does need to be his normal way of working. Why won't his school allow him to use a laptop?

My DS won't use a laptop, although his school would willingly let him. So we have a different problem.

Does the school think his handwriting is a problem?

Zenyattadottir Thu 11-Nov-10 11:16:17

We haven't actually discussed him using a laptop at school. I think the teachers just put up with his handwriting - they are used to it.

Is that right, that if he uses a laptop for school then he can use it in exams? Won't he need some kind of statement to say that he needs to use a laptop?

Yes, the school acknowledge the problem but have come up with no suggestions as to what to do about it. They don't seem to know. He is bright, so gets away with it IYSWIM. There are other boys in his year - four of them in all - who have seriously bad handwriting which brings their grades down. One of them had a WISC test (I think) and is allowed extra time in exams but not to use a laptop. He is dyspraxic, which I'm pretty sure my ds is not.

My son is young enough that we are working to correct his fine motor skills. However, the school have accepted typed work or me acting as a scribe if he is struggling. I haven't asked the OT for a specific recommendation for a laptop at this stage as the volume of handwriting my DS is doing is not high enough to justify it yet. However, if the problems persist I would go down the laptop route.

abouteve Thu 11-Nov-10 12:11:52

OT, WISC for a dogdy pencil grip, really shock. DD holds her pencil funny, her handwriting looks bad in she has to rush something, but mine does too. I tell her to sort it out, she is in 6th form.

Zenyattadottir Thu 11-Nov-10 13:05:09

But it's not right that it should continue to bring his grades down because examiners can't read his handwriting, is it? The school acknowledges that that is the case. Neither he nor I know how he can change his pencil grip and learn to write more legibly. It's not just if he's in a hurry, it's all the time, and it's serious.sad

lazymumofteenagesons Fri 12-Nov-10 11:37:40

Ihave posted on your other thread but I want to also add that doing a WISC test could prove that his potential is way above his performance and that this is due to his writing problem. I think that is probably why it was suggested.

Zenyattadottir Sat 13-Nov-10 10:46:29

Thanks, Lazymum. Some of his GCSE grades were below what he was predicted, and what he was capable of. German is a good example of where his writing will have brought him down. With hindsight, I should certainly have got the school to give him a transcriber for that exam.

camptownraces Sat 13-Nov-10 19:36:55

Zenyattadottir -

The SEN people at the school seem to be unaware of the current exam regs from what you say.

Doing a WISC test (privately) is hardly relevant to the problem, and will cost you a packet.

Transcription is unlikely to help - if it's unreadable nobody will be able to transcribe his script. A "scribe" is now reserved for those who are unable to word process.

You can find the exam regs for this year on the JCQ website.
http://www.jcq.org.uk/attachments/published/538/25 .%20AARASC%200910.pdf

Your best bet may be to get your son's SUBJECT teachers on side to complain about his handwriting to the SEN department, and follow this up IN WRITING with your own concerns, quickly. Do you have a parents' evening soon? [Does he wordprocess all the coursework?]

I think it unlikely that he would be able to secure an improvement in legibility at this age, which would survive the pressure of exams - everyone's handwriting degenerates during exams.

Does the handwriting seem to you to be slow, in addition to being illegible?

Hope this helps.

PopCrackleSnap Sat 13-Nov-10 20:03:28

There's a lady in Nottigham I think, will try to remember get name, who specialises in handwriting remediation for teenagers. She kind of develops a new style for them, choosing from a variety of each letter form, that would suit them most. It's a little like te north American curscive style, some of the letter forms. She sees them for several sessions and gives some kind of homework and I think yells them not to do any writing at school for a fortnigt, just the exercises and new style, until they've broken the old habits.

sarahfreck Sat 13-Nov-10 21:03:25

I think an occupational therapist assessment is the way forward. Paediatric OTs are used to assessing this type of difficulty and making recommendations. You can get referred via your GP though their may be a waiting list to see someone, but your GP might also be able to give you a list of appropriate private OTs.

There is an average handwriting speed that is specified for children of different ages and if your ds is dramatically below the correct speed for his age then he may be able to get dispensation to use a keyboard or additional time in exams.

Don't rule out "cognitive" issues. A dodgy pen grip can be a sign that the dc is having a problem with one of the essential skills required for writing (orientation, directionality, sizing, spatial organisation, detailed motor control etc). Whereabouts do you live btw?

Zenyattadottir Sun 14-Nov-10 12:49:54

Thanks for all this info! Am still getting to grips with it (lol, pun intended). Have been at a Remembrance Service all morning.

We're in SW London.

sarahfreck Mon 15-Nov-10 10:47:45

Ok, just asking about where you live as I know a lady in Manchester who might have been able to help but I think it is a bit far!!

Zenyattadottir Mon 15-Nov-10 12:09:34

Ta, anyway, Sarah. grin

jeee Mon 15-Nov-10 12:13:20

Zenyattadottir, my handwriting was so bad I had to dictate my university exam scripts. That shocked me so much I worked hard at improving my handwriting with limited success. But one thing that did help with my legibility (so my lecturers assured me), was writing on every other lines.

Zenyattadottir Mon 15-Nov-10 13:22:58

Well, I am going to pursue improving ds' handwriting but also hope the school will allow him to use a word processor for exams.

This thread has the story of the word processor - useful for anyone else who has a kid with bad handwriting!

I had a look at ds' recent notes - honestly, illegible is not the word for it. Why I let this get this far, I really don't know - except he is v embarrassed and therefore defensive about it.

cory Wed 17-Nov-10 09:58:40

<chants> OT, OT, OT

not only does an occupational therapist help him to learn better techniques, s/he may also be able to find out why he is doing this.

I had similar problems and only found out when my own children were diagnosed that it is because we have hypermobile joints: I simply haven't got the strength to hold a pen the proper way. Any more than I can use a potato peeler the right way round or tie my shoelaces efficiently. It was actually a great relief to find out that there was a reason behind all the ways in which I struggled. But I was just like your dh as a teen, embarrassed and unwilling to talk about it.

Ds is already (10) getting typing lessons at school, so he will be able to use laptop in secondary. Dd may need to use laptop in exams.

mumeeee Wed 17-Nov-10 16:56:44

DD2 got extra time and a scribe for her GCSE's. She is getting extra time for an As level resit that she's doing in January. The As level is drama and she is doing that in the evenings. But for GCSE the Senc aranged a test for her.

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