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How important are finger spaces?

(8 Posts)
KeepOnKeepingOn1 Wed 26-Feb-14 10:37:42

DS2 is in year 3 and has been diagnosed with HFA with problems with hypermobility and he is also 'gifted'. He struggles to write and is visited termly in school by OT and the school have received further advice from Potential Plus.

The latest OT reports highlights on-going difficulties with finger spacing. He either uses no spaces so that writing is a long series of letters or he uses spaces randomly in the middle of some words whilst running others together. I find it very difficult to read his work and by the last sentence have usually been forced to give up even though I know what topic he is writing about. Output is also limited - 2 to 5 sentences. He sort of says all that he wants to in the first 2 sentences and then adds on random speech like comments to make it longer iykwim. Writing for an audience is lost on him - he started a letter to the head teacher with "sup" -yoof speak for 'hello' (what's up?) grin

He was levelled at 2b last term. The level descriptors that I have for 1b refer to spacing being irregular and that most work can generally be read without mediation. To score 1a, spacing should be accurate and the writing be able to be read without mediation.

His attainment within the level descriptors is very uneven as his use of punctuation, alliteration and formal grammar etc is very good (99th percentile at single word level) but he has narrative delay and poor comprehension and so what he writes is a little idiosyncratic. There are also the handwriting issues.

I have a teacher/parent consultation next week. In previous conversations and IEP reviews the teacher has justified increasing his levels despite him not achieving earlier targets. Is this normal/good practice?

Any advice on how to approach this would be gratefully received.


KeepOnKeepingOn1 Wed 26-Feb-14 14:13:14

I've looked at stuff on how to make a level judgement but whilst it seems clear that issues of spacing and mediation are expected to be achieved during level 1, it is not clear what happens if these specific targets remain unmet whilst other level 2 targets are met. Is it possible to move up to level 2 without meeting these level 1 targets?

Or are the school just ignoring this because they think it won't really matter until tests are externally marked by which time he would have a scribe or laptop and in any case it might just happen over the next couple of years?

tiredbutnotweary Wed 26-Feb-14 18:56:04

I think, though someone will hopefully correct me if I'm wrong, that it is unecessary to have completed all of level 1 to be able to be achieving level 2 because children's progress isn't linear. However that would make more sense with 2c and much less sense with 2a. Also something like finger spacing and being able to read a text seem so fundamental to writing that I would have exactly the same fears that you have regarding the school's motivations.

I have no idea how you could help him with this, although if he does know where the spaces should go, but just doesn't put them there (which would be required for typing to be an improvement too) then have you tried getting him to write with one of those clickible colour changing pens and asking him to alternate the colour of each word AND leave a space as he does so. Sorry that's probably a ridiculous idea but if it was me I'd be desperate to put some fun interference in the way of what must be becoming quite an ingrained habit!

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Wed 26-Feb-14 21:45:14

Don't know the school budget could stretch to a multi-coloured pen - he's not made full use of the 'paper-clip' yet and it's only been a year grin

He leaves spaces when he is typing but he is not allowed to type at school. PP+ have suggested 50:50 writing and typing plus Speed Up intervention but the school just ignore me (and them, and the OT who has provided the school with advice and resources).

I just want the account to be accurate and not fail to even acknowledge the existence of persistent weaknesses because it is somehow not fair to not concentrate solely on his strengths when assessing attainment and progress.

freetrait Wed 26-Feb-14 23:06:05

Think you need expert help. Have you heard of parent partnership- if the school are ignoring the specialist advice you can get them in to fight your corner. Does sound like he needs support with writing but also that using a lap-top could be of great benefit.

Often the levelling can be a bit "best-fit" when kids don't fit iyswim. However, there seem to be a few issues (the spacing and the amount he writes) that need sorting or strategies so that he can make progress.

Ferguson Thu 27-Feb-14 18:23:51

While waiting for more professional help, perhaps he could try DICTATING into a tape recorder, mobile phone, or microphone into a computer. Once children are relieved of some of the effort of handwriting, their ideas may flow more easily. When dictating, you could illustrate how it might sound with no sound-spaces between words; maybe he could even say "SPACE" after each word (or make a Sound, like Victor Borge, if you know about him!)

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Thu 27-Feb-14 20:07:22

Loved the link grin

The problem is the ASD and narrative delay. I have dragon speech recognition software and even a dictaphone that uses dragon software to produce text. Whatever the medium he is 'concise' - first two sentences with alliteration/synonyms etc and then filler.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Thu 27-Feb-14 20:12:44

Free - didn't mean to ignore you smile

I am well past parent partnership grin. Are they really considered to be helpful? Not ime.

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