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Severe Writing Problems

(109 Posts)
IndigoBell Sat 28-May-11 17:00:59

DD (Year 3) has severe literacy problems (so please, I'm only looking for comments from very experienced teachers or the like)

Her writing is no more than a jumble of letters. School have just given her a scribe on her last assessment because her work can't be read at all. (No physical problems - her handwriting is fine)

She has very recently more or less got the hang of reading and has just been assessed as a 2b on an optional SATs paper. But her writing isn't improving yet (Apparently she's a Level 1 when working unaided).

She does an hour a day of Read, Write, Inc at school (and has been doing so for 3 years). And we obviously read every night at home.

What on earth shall I do with her at home?

AccelRead/AccelWrite?
Word Wasp?
Hornet?
Apples & Pears ?
Nessy ?
??????

What structured programs do you recommend?

Her writing is really bad. I've spent the last 4 years trying to teach her to read. And now the task of trying to teach her to write just seems impossibly daunting sad

Not to mention she's missed all of literacy last year to do RWI, so she needs to be taught absolutely everything sad

I've applied for a statement - but obviously chances are she won't get one.

cornsilks Sat 28-May-11 17:06:47

Indigo - does she work with a TA at school? She may well benefit from 1:1 with a specialist dyslexia teacher.

letthembe Sat 28-May-11 17:13:50

I feel for you, your DD sounds like brother, who is severely dyslexic. Nessy seems pretty good.
I use a flip camera with a boy in my class (Y5). He write a few sentences, then records his writing as he reads it back aloud. Slowly but surely his sentence structure is improving. I also make sure that a small group of the class have a daily phonics session to develop spelling (not reading). With the whole class I use a lot of visual stimulus and drama work to form ideas and order before they put pen to paper - knowing where the writing is going is essential for sentence structure.
Is the problem spelling? grammatical? sentence structure? ideas?

IndigoBell Sat 28-May-11 17:16:14

The SpLD team have signed her off - recommending she uses a reading pen and dictation software sad Her literacy problems are that bad sad

Read, Write, Inc is the kind or program a specialist dyslexia teacher would use. 3 years of it hasn't helped at all....

But I will teach her to write. Giving up isn't really an option is it.....

letthembe Sat 28-May-11 17:17:22

I agree with cornsilks, she needs to be working with a specialist dyslexic teacher and she wouldn't need a statement for a school to provide this service. But unfortunately, it is one the areas where budgets have been reduced, along will EPs, OTs, etc. So, so, wrong ... makes me angry

IndigoBell Sat 28-May-11 17:17:38

The problem is spelling. Her sentence structure, ideas, and grammar are all fine.

Read, Write, Inc is a phonics program. So she is getting an hour a day of phonics.

cornsilks Sat 28-May-11 17:23:19

A properly trained specialist teacher won't just stick to one generic programme. I would be wary of a teacher suggesting any learning programme as a one size fits all remedy. The fact that she was on that programme for 3 years without making progress is totally crap - poor dd.

ClenchedBottom Sat 28-May-11 17:28:24

If she has only very recently 'got' reading - and by the way, a huge Well done! to you and DD! - it may be that the impact on her spelling skills will take longer to show. Of course you'll be aware that the usual pattern is for reading to improve first, spelling usually lags behind a bit. So I guess what I'm saying is that pls don't assume that the spelling won't improve.

Was there anything specific that seemed to trigger the breakthrough with reading, or was it more a culmination of all the hard slog, IYSWIM?

ClenchedBottom Sat 28-May-11 17:29:03

Oh hell, hope the 'well done' doesn't sound patronising, it really wasn't meant to, you've clearly both worked soooooooooo hard........

IndigoBell Sat 28-May-11 17:39:50

The breakthrough with reading came after doing Auditory Integration Training.

While a dyslexia tutor might not do a generic program - they are still going to do synthetic phonics (with or without multi-sensory learning).

They don't have any magic which they can do which school or I can't do.

hockeyforjockeys Sat 28-May-11 17:40:05

IndigoBell when you say her sentence structure, grammar etc. are fine do you mean when she actually writes or her spoken sentences? If spelling really is her only problem then as a teacher I wouldn't be assessing her at a level 1, but would put in my own translation (i.e. scribing what she reads back to me) to assess the quality of structure, vocabulary, punctuation etc. When you say a jumble of letters, is she separating out words or just using letter strings (i.e. no spaces between words, usually with no phonetically plausible attempts at spelling either)? Is she able to read back her own work, or is it indecipherable to her as well? Is she keen to write, or does the fact that nobody can read it back put her off? I'm sorry I can't offer much actual advise but just having a clearer idea of her difficulties might help to get more specific advice.

IndigoBell Sat 28-May-11 17:57:03

With a scribe she got a level 2. But I am not interested in that, because she needs to learn to write.

She separates out words and attempts to spell - but her attempts are not phonetically plausible or decipherable.

She can only read back her own work if she can still remember what she wrote smile

She is keen enough to write. Will happily write pages at school. She doesn't actually realise no-one can read what she wrote confused

Hassled Sat 28-May-11 17:58:51

How are her fine motor skills generally? Can she manage cutlery, buttons, that sort of thing?

IndigoBell Sat 28-May-11 17:59:44

Her fine and gross motor skills are fine. And so is her handwriting.

letthembe Sat 28-May-11 18:00:38

My brother is now 45+ still and still spells my name incorrectly!

letthembe Sat 28-May-11 18:04:44

Sorry I know that doesn't help much, but I would like to say, he struggled to learn to read, didn't really learn until he was 14. But he did manage to get some qualification, including a degree and has a pretty decent job. Hang on in there, she is still young and you are doing so much with her it's sometimes about helping them find a place in this crazy world (I know that's what I have to do with my own DS).

IndigoBell Sat 28-May-11 18:07:29

letThemBe - I can't do that, I can't hang on and watch the school system destroy her.

I will take her out of school and HE before I let her confidence and happy personality get destroyed.

But I can't HE her before Jan due to work commitments.....

letthembe Sat 28-May-11 18:07:29

She needs to be working on some form of phonics. I think she could also do with a laptop and learning to type effectively. Are there letter reversals?

IndigoBell Sat 28-May-11 18:10:14

A laptop wouldn't help because it's choosing the letters which is the problem.

She does reverse letters and struggle to work out what some letters are (b,d,p etc)

She is working on phonics. An hour a day at school. But I want to now switch to a more writing based program rather than a purely reading one.

I think the hornet literacy primer and acceleread/accelwrite are probably the best......

letthembe Sat 28-May-11 18:10:27

Sorry I know, my mum and dad went through hell with my brother! But I just want you know there is light at the end of a long dark tunnel. Are they any schools in your area with a specialist dyslexic unit, my brother went to one, it really helped him!

IndigoBell Sat 28-May-11 18:11:22

There are no primary schools with a dyslexia unit in my borough (that I have been able to find out about).

mrz Sat 28-May-11 18:45:08

I agree writing normally follows reading so there is a strong possibility your daughter will begin to make progress too. However I know you hate leaving things to chance Indigo. How is she with joined handwriting as this can help with letter confusion. I know you don't want to rely on a laptop but using one (for longer pieces can help) alongside writing not as a substitute ... could you put coloured stickers on the letters she has most difficulty finding? As a short term fix while working on writing

mungogerry Sat 28-May-11 18:52:32

I have been researching tools/sytems to aid dyslexic children of late. I can't put my finger on where I read it - but there is a school of thought that suggests learning to write words with the letters all joined from the start can really help dyslexic children. It sounds contradictory as when they are struggling (sometimes) even forming letters it is slightly bizzare to demand joined writing from them - but the thinking is that when we are practiced in writing a certain word this becomes second nature for your hand to make the shape in one go - muscle memory if you like - so the dilema over which letters need to go into it and in which order is eliminated once the word is in the familiar "bank". This bank of words builds in the same was as the word bank with their reading.

I know our primary do this and it seems to work. Obviously not you were directly asking, but I thought I would mention incase it helped.

IndigoBell Sat 28-May-11 18:57:31

I'm sure her spelling will improve very very slowly - but there has to be something I can do at home to help that process.

Her spelling problems are not due to letter reversal. Even if she didn't reverse her letters her writing would still be undecipheral. Because it is just not even close to phonic. It is far closer to random letters.

Here's an example (ignoring capital letters which are randomly throughout):

we I wos wocig hom fom sco it wis bucrig bawn wiht ran wen I got hom I and litl awenro wur wet sow I brib as lit lat wetn cut a cob so I rap him gp anb got him a tiso

Last time I tried her on a laptop I had to buy lower case stickers for the keyboard because she didn't know her upper case sad

Chandon Sat 28-May-11 19:00:05

has she had a proper assessment?

DS1, y3, did the test (2hrs) at the Dyslexia Institute with a Psych Ed. It was very costly though (440!), but very useful.

You should be able to get her assessed through the school though. First step is to make an appointment with the school's SENCO . They will do a "mini dyslexia test" first.

I did the test privately, as I did not have the time to fight bureaucracy first (as I had to decide to change DS school).

Good luck, it's great she clicked with reading. Once my DS clicked with reading, we became more optimistic about his writing. he only started to write separate "words" (instead of random strings of letters) when we was 8....pfffff I sometimes want to tear my hair out in frustration! It is so hard, and I so want him to "get it". Get her assessed by a Ed. Psych, either through the SENCO or privately, that way you'll know exactly what the problem is. It could be auditory processing skills, or a poor short term memory or many other things. It really helps to know exactly what is the matter.

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