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Yr 6 son (11 years) targetted at 3b in writing. Worringly low?

(13 Posts)
swanthingafteranother Mon 21-Jan-13 15:28:19

Ds2 has mild ASD. His handwriting is atrocious, although his reading level is age appropriate, slightly above average and his intelligence is fine. His comprehension/literacy is poor because his writing is so bad, and he cannot express himself on paper.

He is on SA +. He just cannot physically seem to write for very long, or very well. He starts off neatly but it soon deterioates into mispelt gibberish. Now school have been intervening with handwriting classes for a long time (since Year 3) and has given us worksheets to do (which ds has shown little interest in). He does the work he is set, but the handwriting bit seems never to improve, almost as if it is getting worse as he struggles to get the rest of the literacy stuff down...

But Dh and I are now beginning to feel we should do more as it is impacting his whole academic range. But what should more consist of? He refuses to do more literacy than he is already doing (all the SATs homework prep, classwork etc). He is not dyslexic, as we have had him assessed. It seems to be a physical problem. His spelling is terrible too.

What sort of tutoring? If any? Pull him out for it? Kitchen table in mornings and do it ourself in mornings? Complain to school we want rest of work stuff dropped and concentrate on handwriting homework? Pull him out of school in mornings and send him to a dyspraxic/dyslexia centre where they will concentrate on fine motor skill stuff? His self esteem over literacy is dropping all the time and he is refusing to do extra stuff after school so this is a real issue for us, that he should be in the MOOD to concentrate (which he would be first thing) Sats he does football which he loves, and helps him in so many ways (social, physical etc) so we can't do tutoring then.

The curriculum atm is fine in that he loves all the stuff he learns but at this final hurdle before secondary, I am beginning to feel we have hit dead end leaving him in mainstream setting and we will regret it BITTERLY when he gets to secondary and can't keep up at all. And no he doesn't have a statement, his ASD is not bad enough or his academic performance. Maths is predicted a 4/5 at SATS.

cansu Mon 21-Jan-13 15:34:44

If it is simply handwriting rather than his ability then why haven't you considered using a neo note taker (low tech electronic lightweight typewriter) children with handwriting problems due to medical issues or dyslexia are using these where I work.

swanthingafteranother Mon 21-Jan-13 15:52:06

I agree that longterm touchtyping is the solution, but in the shortterm he still has to learn to touchtype or to write. And anyway I have this gut feeling that the physical act of handwriting is an important stage. My handwriting is not especially good, and I'm brilliant at touchtyping - find it much easier to communicate through type than cursive, but I went through all that decorative handwriting practice that schools in 60s/70's still went in for...and I did loads of craft etc. It was good for my brain. Maybe he needs just longer to get through that stage, before he gets on to the next stage. Maybe it isn't something you should just "skip", if you are going to organise your brain.

Don't know what the pedagogical take on handwriting as a skill is.

smee Mon 21-Jan-13 16:15:29

swan, my DS is dyslexic with lousy handwriting and his self esteem was sinking, so the school have started letting him dictate some of his work to free him up. So for creative writing homework, he works out what he wants to say then dictates it and I write it up for him. They've also given him a dictaphone to sometimes use in class. He does still do most of his writing himself, but it's made a massive difference to his confidence and willingness to try. Might be worth you suggesting similar?

swanthingafteranother Mon 21-Jan-13 16:22:00

We have always done the dictation thing for big projects but there is still an elephant in the room, that he cannot WRITE! And when he gets to secondary he will need to, one way or another....He cannot dictate things at secondary, and he is going to have scribe his homework one way or another, or some of the classwork.

I am just trying to think of different ways to tackle the essential deficiency. Which might be taking him out of school for a while.

smee Mon 21-Jan-13 17:21:30

Have you found out much about whatever secondary he'll go to, Swan? Lots are better at such problems than primary from all I've heard.

SCOTCHandWRY Mon 21-Jan-13 17:34:59

he cannot WRITE! And when he gets to secondary he will need to

DS3 has Asperger's, is very bright and can barely write - very similar to your son but he's 15, he seams to find it physically and psychologically painful. We were VERY worried about the transition to secondary, partly due to the dire predictions from his primary school - however, secondary school have been great - he has a cheap notebook type laptop he uses in class and he gets to sit exams with long answer question on a computer, computers are a "real life" solution - nobody actually hand writes ANYTHING in the world of work these days and it's time more schools recognised that!

Yes, encourage him to write as neatly as he can, and do a little bit of practice daily without making a big issue of it, but IME it won't make a huge difference, he will be happier learning to type well.

My DS is happier writing with a fountain pen, though these have the potential to make a huge amount of mess, they also need to be held differently and with no pressure on the page - this might suit him better.

cansu Mon 21-Jan-13 17:36:49

Ok I agree in an ideal world you will be able to solve this problem through intensive tutoring and if you find someone who can help then fab. But, having tried to do intensive work with children with terrible handwriting including working on exercises and trying to help them with coordination etc, I have found results to be very poor especially with older children. If you also throw into the mix that your ds is resistant and is now showing an active dislike of writing then this makes it even more difficult. FWIW I wouldn't give up but I would try using touch typing for some of his work. It will help raise his self esteem around writing and will also stop him disengaging further with written tasks.

swanthingafteranother Mon 21-Jan-13 17:51:57

good slant on things. Thanks everybody. So general consensus is that handwriting is not some part of brain that can be "activated" beneficially, but should be seen as means to an end, conveying information.

Any teachers out there who think handwriting is an end in itself that is holistic for children...I mean like any sort of practical activity - like climbing trees or cooking, not entirely essential, but character forming...

Startail Mon 21-Jan-13 18:13:30

Yes, DH makes part of his living 'writing' technical reports, He conveys a lot of information in a very nicely written style.

Anything tricky I need written, I get him to reword for me.

However, his hand writing is utterly illegible. He's banned from putting things on the calendar or writing shopping lists because no one else has a clue as to what he means.

DMIL was an English teacher, she did try, and try again, but DH's hand writing remained just as bad.

Seriously OP arrange a meeting with the senior school senco. They are way more clued up than primary ones. DD1 is dyslexic and they organize her extra time and support if she needs it. I know they also have ipads to loan to DCs like your son who find writing very difficult.

coppertop Mon 21-Jan-13 18:29:11

My ds has ASD and also finds handwriting very difficult.

He's in secondary school and uses a laptop (provided by the school) in all his lessons. He first started using one in Yr6 and it made a big difference to the amount of legible work he could produce, and the result was that he got much higher scores. He doesn't have a statement.

Handwriting can be useful, but realistically it isn't needed as much as it used to be. Even many official forms can now be filled in and submitted online.

swanthingafteranother Wed 23-Jan-13 11:08:31

Update. We trying to be more pro-active now. We've bought the Write From the Start package of books and trying that, to get back to basics.
DH has also managed to start his own handwriting program with ds2 which involves writing out passages from ds2's favourite novels first thing in the morning, and then choosing the best words to learn by heart for spelling purposes. Suprisingly first thing in morning seems to be working brilliantly. Maybe after school with mum was always the problem. As with all ASD children the habits seem to make the difference and I think ds2 had got it into his head that homework after school is to be avoided at all costs!

swanthingafteranother Wed 23-Jan-13 11:09:38

And we also let him write things on computer as part of the "lesson". He loves that, and it is helping his spelling too, to write stuff there and see it is spelt wrongly, and then correct it.

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