Practical Suggestions to Help With Dyspraxic DS's Handwriting Please!

(34 Posts)
OtterInaSkoda Tue 08-Sep-09 16:49:46

Can anyone help with some practical suggestions to help DS (Y4) with his writing? His teachers and I think he is dyspraxic, but we?re awaiting a formal diagnosis. He?s getting extra support at school and I have no complaints in that regard.

What I could really do with though are some practical ideas to help him with his homework. He is allowed to use the computer but at the mo that isn?t ideal as he can?t type. He can dictate to me, kind of, but that ends up being so stilted. I bought a typing tutor a while back but he hated it.

So, any tried and tested practical tools to help? Pens? Writing slopes? Ways to help his train of thought flow a little more easily?

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claricebeansmum Tue 08-Sep-09 16:52:06

Have you tried the triangular pen holders and triangular pencils?

LIZS Tue 08-Sep-09 16:57:07

Writing slope - Ikea do a cheap one although it has always been out of stock when we've been in or www.asd.co.uk. Stabilo, Yoro or Pelikan pens worth a look. Make sure he sits properly with feet on the floor or foot rest and is properly supported. Maybe a special "Move and Sit" cushion to allow him to fidget but maintain posture . Backinaction.co.uk do one. Is he having Touch typing lessons at school ? Does he get OT input

OtterInaSkoda Tue 08-Sep-09 17:29:13

Wow - superfast, you two! Thanks

We've got a fair few Yoropens and DS finds them easier to use than ordinary pens (with or without grips). I've only just seen the Stabilo ones. I'll see if I can pick one up tomorrow afternoon.

LIZS thanks for the backinaction link. The first thing that caught my eye was this which I'm thinking about trying.

I'll deffo ask about touch typing at school. DS has had very little OT input. It seems to be very difficult to even get an appointment in our area - for a while apparently there wasn't anyone in post. DS did have some group sessions earlier this year but we're still waiting on the report from that. I'm confident that the school are hassling the PCT sufficiently, although perhaps I could do a bit more.

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floaty Wed 09-Sep-09 13:25:32

I have a dyspraxic and dysgraphic son ,would second yoro pens and writing slope also using squeezy ball/plasticine to strengthen muscles in hand .Have you contacted your local OT dept we were very lucky when ds was in year 5 they ran a 6 week OT session for children with writing problems.

OtterInaSkoda Wed 09-Sep-09 13:43:11

Thanks, floaty. I have been in touch with the local OT dept, as have the school. I'm not sure if it's a funding issue or a recruitment issue but it seems that whatever OT post would have had responsibility for my ds was/is vacant for absolutely ages.
He went to some group gross motor sessions for about 6 weeks - they were fab. They won't be running any more for a while apparently - although the OTs made it very clear to me that there was a lot more work to do with ds.

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Pielight Wed 09-Sep-09 13:53:51

Agree with writing slope -though pens didn't make much difference with us.

have a look for some complex dot to dot puzzle books - not the easy normal ones - they do help with training the eye and the hand to work together. Happy Puzzle dot co dot UK might be worth a look.

Then all the normal stuff - beads, lego, usborne have a Making Models book. Though I find it v. hard to get ds2 to do this stuff after a day at school. We got Write from the Start too - and did some of that at school, it builds up in complexity. Again, he found it a bore though.

Lizs thing about sitting straight with feet on floor a good one too, and the improving muscles in hand with a squeezy ball - always good to do this before any handwriting needs to be done.

DS's OT gave him some exercises to do.

The best thing we did - but it costs £ sadly - was something called Neurodevelopmental therapy. You can find out about it www.inpp.org.uk/here - and either was just uncanny timing of age or it did actually WORK! shock I tend not to believe in things like this BUT he could climb a gate after it, learnt to ride a bike, sit on a chair without falling off etc. Handwriting still sloppy though grin but better. . .

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Pielight Wed 09-Sep-09 13:56:04

Sorry bad link - here

www.inpp.org.uk/

Pielight Wed 09-Sep-09 14:00:02

This site has a more useful explanation too

www.learningdiscoveries.com.au/NeurodevelopmentalTherapy.htm

Pielight Wed 09-Sep-09 14:03:00

oh - and because I don't want you to think I'm a nutter with odd barmy internet ideas [the very thought] - ds's NHS OT said 'ooh you've got rid of his ATNR reflex! That's fantastic, have you been doing neuro developmental therapy?' 'YES' I cried.

OtterInaSkoda Wed 09-Sep-09 14:34:03

lol Pielight - I'm going to check out your barmy Internet ideas grin

I can't tell you what a relief it is to hear that I'm not the only one who finds it hard to get their dc to do this stuff. Even extreme bribery has failed.

Thank you

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lazymumofteenagesons Wed 09-Sep-09 14:42:05

touch typing lessons are really important.My son (dyspraxic and dyslexic)is now 14 and although eventually his handwriting became legible and sort of on the line it remained very slow and his writing stamina was not good. So all those great thoughts (not) were remaining in his head and not on paper. He was assessed for use of lap top in public exams and it showed he needed to. He had been taught to touch type when he had extra help in years 3-5 and this has been a godsend. The school actually states that if they can't touch type use of laptop in exams is not going to help.

I think the moral of this long convoluted story is as well as using different techniques for writing try and push him with touchtype learning.

lazymumofteenagesons Wed 09-Sep-09 14:43:31

Also, his touch typing classes were in school so I didn't play a part in it!

Pielight Wed 09-Sep-09 14:45:14

Oh god, is such a toss up between self-esteem and doing the stuff I think.

My ds is probably mildly dyspraxic. I've left it all for a while actually - like yours he is a great reader, smart kid etc, it felt like ALL we did was dwell on what he was crap at. Which was no good. The NDT stuff did for him.

Though am meant to be going to see Senco this term, who said to me on the phone 'there really is not point in doing things if his attitude is still going to be - get me outta here you mad lady.' So, not sure what to do really. grin

trickerg Wed 09-Sep-09 21:37:27

'Dance Mat Typing' is great for touch typing on the BBC wesite.
Also 'Write Dance', available on Amazon, which has exercises to accompany h/w practice.

Hassled Wed 09-Sep-09 21:41:16

I realy recommend the Clarice Bean touch typing software. Amazon sell it. It has little games, so the more accurately you type the faster the car goes etc - worked a treat for (Dyspraxic) DS2. We basically threw in the towel re handwriting around Yr 4 (he's Yr7 now) - he finds it so difficult, and the lack of progress was really upsetting him. Now he has a (LA) laptop and types all written work, and is a much happier boy.

Hassled Wed 09-Sep-09 21:42:26

Not Clarice Bean! She's someone else entirely. I mean Mavis Beacon. I am INSANE.

Doodlez Wed 09-Sep-09 21:47:00

left-handed and right-handed versions of this specially designed pen might help.

OtterInaSkoda Thu 10-Sep-09 09:43:57

grin Clarice Bean Mavis Beacon taught me to touchtype, too hassled. I have a feeling that we might also end up throwing in the towel when it comes to handwriting before long, especially seeing as my ds's attitude is about as useful as Pielight's ds's.
I bought a typing tutor thingy by someone else and he absolutely hated it, even though it had games. TBH I think I may have built the games up too much and in this world of Wii they didn't really make the grade. The lesson being don't big up educational games if your dc is used to Pro Street Racer and Lego Star Wars grin
Thing is I do not and have not given up on things that ds simply doesn't particularly want to do as a rule (otherwise he'd never clean his teeth, read to us or do any homework, ever) but the writing thing is in a league of its own because he finds it so damn hard. It's awful trying to get your dc to do something they're crap at, that they know they're crap at and that they seem to find impossible.
doodlez I bought one of those pens the other day – he seems to like it but then he likes most new things. They’re £2.99 at the moment in Morrisons, should anyone want to stock up

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OtterInaSkoda Thu 10-Sep-09 09:47:12

lazymumofteenagesons I am going to talk to ds's teacher this afternoon as I think typing lessons in school (as opposed to at home) are the way forward.
trickerg I'll take a look at your suggestions, too.

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DMspecial Thu 10-Sep-09 09:54:58

Nothing to add about handwriting, I wish I had known as much about it.

However when it comes to building self-esteem can I suggest martial arts or trampolining or one of the individual sports like fencing, archery or swimming. All of these will help build muscle tone but will not feel like special exercises. Although it will seem strange some people also recommend piano lessons, provided you can find a sensitive teacher.

Doodlez Thu 10-Sep-09 10:05:00

Otter - my DS and DD like them too and I'm well impressed! They were recommended by DS's new teacher. In fact, I was so impressed, I even started a thread on here about them a couple of days ago! grin

and I've just noticed, you're on it grin

Niecie Thu 10-Sep-09 10:09:22

I have a dyspraxic son too.(Yr 5) He only sees the OT once a year due to them being short of so the school does the programme with him.

My DS hated the writing slope. He never got to grips with it, plus it made him stand out from the other children in class and got in their way so that he couldn't sit at the tables with them so I wouldn't rush out and buy one. I would ask at school if they have one for him to try.

We have tried many pens but he never holds them properly. hmm We are now trying elastic bands wrapped round as they don't move around like a lot of the supports you can buy.

There is a writing course that you can buy called Write from the Start which has been mentioned on MN many times and which was recommended by our OT.

DS is also learning to touchtype and using the free course they use at school from the BBC here. DS doesn't mind doing it once he gets going. It seems to be working too. And it is free which is great as if it doesn't work it doesn't matter. If he has sufficient mastery (ie he can type as fast as he can write) he will be allowed to use a laptop for literacy lessons.

Squeezey balls are good for hand strengthening but I remember DS using pegs as well for the same reason.

Finally, because this is getting a bit long blush, I would add horse riding to DMspecial's list as a useful exercise for dyspraxic children. DS doesn't do it yet but it was recommended by the OT when we last saw her in July and she suggested it might be possible to get lessons under the Riding for the Disabled scheme which might help with the cost.

ChopsTheDuck Thu 10-Sep-09 10:32:50

Ds is Y3, and has dyspraxia and Hympermobility syndrome. He uses ultra grips (That is the cheapest site I have foudn for them), and a writing slope. He has been taught to sit properly, and keep his left hand flat in front of him to keep his body stable. I think the ultra grips are a lot better than triangular grips because they ensure the fingers are in the right position. Check his grip, ds had developed an odd grip where his finger was too far back.

He has jsut finished his first block of OT. They recomended spending 10 mins a day practising handwriting. They also told us to go back to basics, and work again on getting block letters right before cursive and joined up writing.

He does hand strengthening exercises too, like the plasticine. We were also told to pracise big movements, flag waving, giant bubbles, that sort of thing. He also does work on an easel at face height, stuff like drawing giant rainbows. Again, he needs to stand properly, and have his left hand on the paper in front of him to increase stability.

despite all this ds's writing is illegible if he has to do more than a small amount as he does find it painful to write. But at least he has developed the skill to write small amounts neatly. He used a scribe for SATs and is likely to continue to do so.

OtterInaSkoda Thu 10-Sep-09 11:13:57

Niecie my ds has been taking riding lessons for a couple of years now and absolutely loves it. I think as far as he’s concerned (and I’m inclined to agree) loads of kids are good at football but hardly anyone else at his school can ride. Every term they all get a certificate and every now and then they get the chance to win rosettes, of which he is very proud. He’s had a couple of falls (nothing to do with dyspraxia) which have, perhaps counterintuitively, added to his confidence because “it means you’re a real rider” and is also a pretty cool story to tell at school the next day. And of course as our dcs get older the boy:girl ratio is a real bonus. There’s a teenage lad at the stables we go to and he seems very popular grin
The 30-minute lessons are £10 each where we go, which isn’t cheap by any means but if you can afford it are worth every penny. 30 minutes is plenty of time, btw.

Chops I think I’m going to try and reinstate the 10 minutes a day thing – I let it slip (after a very short time I’m ashamed to say) because it was all so painful (for both of us).

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