My 11yr old son writes like a 5yr old - He does everything he can to get out of writing at school and when pushed to write ...its very little. His writing is difficult to read and he gets very stressed when having to do writing tasks. He reads at his age level. His maths is good - he manages lego etc and is great at sport. His teacher is persuing a Dyslexia diagnoses but this cannot be done till next year. The only other things that make him stand out as a bit different to his peers is his hypersensitivity to smells and his fussy eating again related to the smell of food. He is also very empathetic to others ( compared to his teen sister ) He has a good group of friends and is well liked but I am getting increasingly worried about his educational future concerning his inability to write. He is little for his age and his friends tend to baby him a bit...this doesnt bother him now but I think when he goes to secondary school it will hit him hard if he has to have special lessons apart from them. I cant't see him being able to write essays etc :-( Any experience / advice
I don't think a laptop is always the answer. It's a lazy way out and I say this a mother of a son with handwritng issues.Handwriting is an essential skill even in 21st century.
I suggest asking your GP for a referral to an occupational therapist. Ds has had physio to build upper body strength which has helped him. He has done a lot of work on balance and coordination. When he was younger he did "write from the start" to improve his visual perception.
It's not just working hard, it's working smart. An OT or physio can guide and moviate your child. It is one of my soap boxes that children with handwriting issues don't get support early enough. Ds had help at five and half years old before his self esteem was knocked to pieces.
OP your DS sounds similar to DS1 he can't write, to say his hand writing, what there is of it is illegible is not doing it justice, and it's very slow he averaged 3 words a minute. He was assessed at 8 and diagnosed with "dyslexia " although the ed psych who assessed him who I later found out is considered to be one of the worlds experts in dyslexia said some would dispute this diagnosis because he can read very well and has excellent comprehension and spelling is pretty average.
My DS like yours is different from his peers, a very fussy eater up until a few years ago (he's 20 now) especially when he was younger, he's popular with other and exceptionally empathetic and very caring and considerate, he can almost mind read but he is also very affected by others moods, e.g. even slightly teachers irritated upset and worry him very badly. He is hypersensitive to certain noises particularly related to clicking noises e.g. heals walking down a corridor, he has to look up at step as he is unable to filter it out (we only found this out when he was in his teens and he could tell us), He also has a photographic memory, he can quote sentences from books he read 5 years ago and can remember huge chunks data if it's something that interests him he is also exceptionally articulate. His initial ed psych report scored his IQ at 132 but his processing was in the bottom 3% and working memory bottom 10%, this was of great interest to the ed psych because this level of discrepancy between intelligence and processing is apparently "very rare". He has recently been reassessed for university, (yes he made to university no where amazing in terms of entry requirement but he got in just and he's very happy) another fascinated ed psych, who spent 30 minutes after the assessment telling me how unique he is, he now scores 147 for IQ, reading comprehension etc are in line with his ability, maths crap, processing no change working memory slightly worse.
The bad news is if your DS is anything like mine he will struggle to access and achieve in education in either sector. My head aches from banging it against a wall of couldn't care less teachers. He's attended eight schools between 2 and 18 in both sectors and only 1-2 teachers actually understood him most wrote him off. All excepted he was very bright but none wanted to help him. You will have to fight tooth and nail to get any kind of useful help and even then he got very little.
I completely disagree with reallytired get your DS assessed now he's definitely old enough, if he has signifucant issues he needs at the very least to use a lap top, the sooner he does the quicker he'll learn to type and it will then be off use in exams etc if his problem is really bad in the ideal world a speech recognition programme like Dragon, good luck with that one.
I was told many years ago that my DS cannot be changed, basically amongst other things he cannot process information onto paper by hand, it doesn't mater what you do: practice, encourage, bribe intimidate he will not really be that much different this is the way his brain is wired up. You wouldn't insist a one legged man run a marathon but you can enable a one legged man to run a marathon with an appropriate prosthesis. I was also told if he were to make a significant improvement in his writing/processing etc it will have a detrimental affect on the things that he is good at, his brain has compensated for one defect by over developing others, this is the person he is. Issues around his his mental health were was highlighted as a potential problem when he was 8. The best anallergy I ever heard was Porsche, engine lawn mower gear box and that life for him must be very frustrating and demoralising.
Good luck to you and your DS if he's anything like mine trust me your going to need it.
I believe that a child should work with a physio/ occupational therapist first to improve hand writing before considering a laptop. Very few dyspraxic children are brilliant at touch typing. There are lots of areas that require pen/ pencil control like drawing graphs or diagrams that cannot be done on a computer. Working on an area like spatial awareness visual perception helps a child with Maths and science. It improves the confidence of the child.
It is lazy to make no attempt to solve the under lying problem that makes it hard to write. It is schools and society who are lazy in not organising physio/ OT to resolve the handwriting issues rather than the child. Often something simple like a different pen can make the world of difference.
I have seen children with extra time sit public exams with an 11p biro. My son has a special handwriting pen that cost £2 and he can write faster and more tidily. I find it ironic that parents will pay for a private educational psychologist so their child can get extra time, but not pay for a decent pen.
Getting special access arrangements is getting tougher. You are going to need medical evidence if you want your child to use a laptop for public exams. A child who has a scribe or a reader for public exams loses 5% of the marks in GCSEs. There is a possibility in the future that other people with special access arrangements will be penalised if the Torys win the next election.
Perhaps reallytired it depends on the cause of the problem, I refer to my man with 1 leg analogy. My DS is a competent and very capable artist, he can draw in great detail, he has excellent spatial awareness and spatial perception but he has a significant processing disorder which means that for some reason the ideas in his head and there are lots of them and many our outstanding do not come out when he physically goes to write. He would tell you its feels like there is some sort of physical barrier there but he can articulate his ideas perfectly and in an organised fashion.. I do agree that touch typing is not the perfect solution, the perfect solution for children like him is Dragon but few if any will entertain regardless of how ed.psych reports recommend it or who commissions these reports. But I also know he touch types significantly quicker than he writes and ultimately it by its nature is legible. Just to also add that for him getting special arrangements in terms of lots of extra time and using a laptop has never been a problem and now at university he has finally been approved to use Dragon in all exams but then his problem is very severe so maybe I'm coming at the OP's thread from a different perspective than yours.
I personally think OP your DC and you and in the ideal world the school have to work with what they've got. IN my now very extensive experience teachers favour amenable children who tick the boxes, in particular the writing get on with lessons and perform ok box. This who don't tick these boxes for what ever reason fall through the cracks get more demoralised and loose confidence and then they tick less teacher boxes and then get more demoralised etc etc, if using a lap top makes life even marginally easier then I just don't see what the problem is especially as a society we do significantly less writing than we did 30 years ago. I've friends who don't employ secretaries to type letters they use Dragon or something similar, we need to stop be so hung up about writing and accept that technology, and I'm speaking as a died in the wool technophobe here, means that there are easier and better ways to do things especially if it produces better results.
I feel the op son should have seen a paediatrian/ OT/ physio much sooner. Unless there is a proper professional evaluation there is no way that a school/ parents/ child can get to the root of the problem. My son first had help with handwriting at five and half. He got help at an early stage because he had needed physio as a tot to learn how to walk.
The person with one leg usually has a diagnosis. Many children with handwriting issues have no diagnosis. Unless you have some idea of what is causing the handwriting problems then there is no way of saying what treatment is needed.
The problem with relying on a laptop is that your child is very vulnerable to computer problems. The laptops used in the school that I invigilate in are older than the kids who are sitting their GCSE. They won't allow parents to provide a laptop. I feel that it's a disaster waiting to happen and laptops used in public exams should be less than five years old.
There are other options like enlarging the paper to make it easier for children to plot graphs and give them more space to write. As I said upthread the writing implement used makes a huge difference.
The ablity to write is still important in 21st Britain. Children need to draw diagrams, be able to use a ruler, compasses in exams even if they are allowed a laptop. Using a laptop doesn't make the problem go away.
As you said reallytired the OP's DS needs a diagnosis as to why he isn't writing clearly or quickly, it maybe that like my DS all the physio/OT help in the world is not going to make a significant difference.
Yes we need to write but Dragon and even a lap top can enable those who are capable in many ways but are unable to write/do well in exams to prove that they are capable, that they shouldn't be written off by our so called wonderful education system and its teaching staff because they don't fit the prescribed box and that they do have something to offer to academia and the world in general.
Child development teams make diagnosis with a team of health professionals. A community paediatrian is the first port of call when seeking a diagnosis. They will refer the child to whoever they deem appriopiate.
It could be that he has dyspraxia or possibility hyper mobility. I disagree with others who say that he shouldn't use a laptop. I would recommend that he starts to use one in class and to document his homework. This will be his usual way of working when the tine comes for him to take formal external exams. It could then be put through as an Exam Access Arrangement. I know that this does not help him now but from what you are saying he is at reaching his age academically. I would pursue a laptop as this eliminates a huge stress for him and you too.
Ds2 is dyspraxic and hypermobile and has horrendous handwriting - he's 17 and his writing looks like that of a 5 year old. The letters are ill-formed and enormous - it's as if an intelligent spider had crawled into an ink pot and across the page...
Writing for him was slow and physically painful. He had intensive OT input from 7 and we diligently did everything suggested plus write from the start (minimal effect), any number of special handwriting pens (ditto). But the OT said no matter what we did he would always find writing hard and to get him typing asap.
His primary school was useless and it wasn't until I demanded that he be allowed to type that anything changed. We used a Disney typing programme and Mavis Beacon over the course of the summer holiday before Y6. And when he went back to school he was finally able to put down on paper what was going on in his head and his marks shot up.
He's used a laptop all the way through secondary and can now type at 120+ wpm
He does still need to draw diagrams etc which is interesting - his diagram of Pavlov's dog for psychology a few weeks back looked like it had been done by a reception aged child but it covered all the elements needed.
OP - try to get a referral to an OT but this can be tricky in some areas as many paediatric services have been cut. And definitely get him typing - we were surprised at how quickly he picked it up and it has transformed his experience of school
Special hand writing pens are shaped in such a way as to make holding and writing with them easier. There's a quite a selection of shapes available and a lot is down to personal preference, For my DS special hand writing pens (we've tried most shapes) were absolutely useless, relatively expensive and easily lost and then its back to the Bic biro.
As I said above we were told that you cannot significantly change these kind of problems even with all the OT practice etc in the world. Instead accept it, see their other strengths which others who have immaculate hand writing may not have may not have and get him typing or as I said even better using a speach recognition programme.
If you have an ed psych report diagnosing a problem technically schools/universities and even employers are not allowed to discriminate against your DS because he cannot write/draw etc. But now as said above you do have to have pretty significant problems to get extra time etc.
My DS (9) has dysgraphia...He does use a laptop at school..I do not consider it a lazy approach.. he does some writing in school but actually his grammar has improved, he is less frustrated.. There is a limit to how much extra time they get in exams...Not enough for my ds ( who also has a high IQ)
He has had physio , is hypermobile but the laptop was the best thing that ever happened for him..He is happier more confident and working to a much higher standard.
A bright child with dysgraphia has spent years watching other people writing away while sitting there frustrated.
I would push for the assessment..My DS was assessed for dyslexia despite high reading level..It came out dysgraphia.
He has tried hundreds of different pens and none have really helped..
I would like to also state Dysgrpahia is more than poor handwriting.
Good luck Op.
Can I also add many teachers have not heard of dysgraphia so don't assume they are aware of it.. My DS is the only child in our school diagnosed.
He does everything he can to get out of writing at school You need to do everything you can to get this knocked on the head. Diagnosis or not, he will need to practise to get better. Can he practise at home. It's like physio for him.
reallytired is right - the amount of concessions now accepted is very very tiny. Using a laptop is not the answer unfortunately these days.
My D's has been in every handwriting group all through school .. he will never ever pass an exam writing.. it takes him so much effort to remember how to form letters .. he misses all punctuation .. this is not just about fine motor it is also neurological.. A child with just messy handwriting won't get diagnosis
My son is in year 6 and has dysgraphia, he has tried all the pens etc, and been forced to write all the way through school, and had lots of comments on his work, saying it was messy etc.
We first went to the OT in year 3, who said dysgraphia, we went back in year 5 as he was still struggling (school wouldn't refer back as they didn't want the extra work, so I did it) and the OT was brilliant, said in her report his dysgraphia is severe, and he is to use a laptop for all his work. She also listed the targets school had given him as impossible for him and that's why he couldn't reach them.
Fortunately while primary school are very ignorant and won't help him (this years teacher is thankfully better) the secondary schools all know what it is and have support in place.
Please visit the occupational therapist who can help.
And it's no wonder my son had low self esteem when people were telling him he was just lazy he can write enough if he needs to, but why force a child to do something they genuinely can't!
And I agree with starlight it's much more than messy handwriting, DS1 struggles with punctuation and spacing and genuinely forgets punctuation as he is trying so hard to write. He's struggled for years, he has the intelligence but has a genuine reason for struggling.
I cannot believe what I am reading here and how much mis conception there is around children with handwriting issues.
I would say your child suffers dysgraphia which is not just being a lazy child it is a reconised neurological condiation.
Its no wonder children with this condiation suffer so badly with self esteem issues when adults class them as lazy.my ds is very bright and would fly any exams if they were oral exams and he knows what he wants to wtite but cannot get it onto paper, so using a laptop at school is the only way he can keep up with the other kids as writing is to stressful for him.
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