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Use of word processor/dysgraphia/dyslexia/dyspraxia assessment advice

(17 Posts)
nvcontrolfreak Mon 19-Mar-18 17:30:07

My DD is in Yr10 and has been increasingly struggling with handwriting. It's poor (I would even say illegible, but school disagrees), she struggles to write at speed and her hands ache after 15-20 min. Given the above, I am struggling to see how she'll cope with a 2 hour English paper at GCSE.

I have approached the school to allow her to use the laptop in lessons (and in exams) such as English and RS.

The school came back saying that their threshold is illegible handwriting which hers isn't unless rushed. I'd argue with that as it looks pretty illegible to me and she can't decipher her own so struggles with editing. Also, JCQ doesn't seem to have rigid criteria on the use of word processor and mention poor (rather than illegible) handwriting as one of the reasons for use of technology. So I am somewhat surprised by the school's approach.

Anyway, they ran a few other tests as well on handwriting and processing. The handwriting test came back below average (DASH, standard score of 7) but somehow that is not enough for them to allow the laptop on that basis alone. Instead, they suggest to do a full diagnostic report to see if she has dyslexia/dyspraxia.

So far so good. Except that we already had her tested in Year 4 and the EdPsych then didn't think she had dyslexia. Although her reading speed and spelling were very low (40th percentile), the processing and working memory speeds were relatively high at 123 and 112 respectively with full scale IQ at 99th percentile. The tests used were different from the ones used at school, but I thought they should all be more or less consistent.

I am happy to do an assessment but I need clearly understand the benefits of doing so - DD had lots of assessments in primary and has some emotional issues at the moment so I am reluctant to put her through another one unless I see the benefits.

We are just looking to use the laptop, not extra time so I am a bit surprised by the school's stance. Also, from what I read it's more dysgraphia rather than dyspraxia/dyslexia. I haven't seen this mentioned on any of the websites/profiles of EdPsychs recommended by the school. Seems like more of an American concept.

Would appreciate advice/views on how to proceed with above. Can we push the school for a laptop without an assessment (probably a long waiting list and £800-1000). And if to proceed with an assessment, any recommendations on EdPsych familiar with dysgraphia?

Thank you!

OP’s posts: |
RandomMess Mon 19-Mar-18 18:23:57

Whereabouts do you live?

nvcontrolfreak Mon 19-Mar-18 18:51:52

SW London, but willing to travel (within reason)

OP’s posts: |
sooooooonowwhat Mon 19-Mar-18 23:22:13

Sounds like your dd may be hypermobile if her hands hurt from writing? Has she seen an OT? We eventually got a referral on the NHS for ds to see an OT and she has specified in her report that he absolutely has to type. His phonological recognition is on the 8th centile and his reading speed is on the 16th centile so he is a slow reader but spelling on 99th centile. He just sat the 11+ and some schools refused to give him extra time but they all let him type. I can dm you the Ed Psych that we saw but it sounds like you need an OT report if it's more to do with physical pain in the hands, they will test to see if she is hypermobile and if she is then that combined with slow/bad writing and pain should be enough to get her permission to use a laptop. I can also recommend an OT (we are SW London too) but I think the NHS one we saw was a lot more thorough though and I think the JCQ have to listen if it's an NHS report. HTH

Traalaa Tue 20-Mar-18 09:53:43

I'm no expert, but know that the rules have been tightened for concessions. My DS is year 9. He is dyslexic and his handwriting's pretty woeful (the school have assessed 35% of what he writes as illegible), but because none of his scores are hugely below average, apparently they'll struggle to allow him extra time or to be able to type. They're looking into it further now, but it's a minefield. I'll be interested to see what others have to say.

happygardening Tue 20-Mar-18 11:43:51

You have to have a very big discrepancy between hand writing processing reading speed etc. From what I understand its not to do with "below average" its the size of the difference between say working memory and writing speed, if you're below average for everything you still wouldn't get a concession. I cant remember what to is but the rules have been tightened up a lot. So for example DS1 IQ on his last test a few years ago was well is in excess of 140 but his processing is on the 3rd centile, and his working memory is on the 9th, he averages 3-5 words minute and to describe his hand writing as illegible isn't really doing it justice the words pissed spider spring to mind, therefore he has a massive discrepancy and the school could totally ignore his issues justify to the exam board the extra time and use of dragon but only in my dreams a lap top (not that I'm bitter and twisted or anything).
School have to follow the guidelines stated by the exam boards so having done a few tests they may have no choice but to say no because the discrepancy they've found isn't large enough and that maybe why they are suggesting a full ed psych report to see if something else can be picked up. Although it had to be said from what I understand scores don't change that much DS has had four done all basically say the same thing.

nvcontrolfreak Tue 20-Mar-18 12:38:10

sooooooonowwhat I would be really grateful for recommendations on EdPsych and OT so if you could pm me, that would be great. Also, if you could share the name of the NHS OT, I will see if can get referred or if they practice privately. I doubt she is hypermobile (she meets some symptoms but not all) and the pain must be a result of incorrect grip and wrong muscle usage. Same for dyspraxia, she meets a lot of symptoms (related to writing/sequencing), but none of the others, e.g. reasonable/good at ball games, learnt how to ride a bike/scooter easily, can ski well, good with Hama beads). That's why I was thinking along the lines of dysgraphia - she mixes lower and uppercase letters, no to tiny spacing between words, difficulty staying on the line, misformed letters, slow writing, struggles to retell a story sequentially, huge discrepancy between verbal and written expression.

Would an EdPsych be able to diagnose dyspraxia or would we need to do a separate OT assessment?

Traalaa I have gone through JCQ requirements and their guidance on use of word processor is actually quite lax - it's pretty much up to the school as long as it's a normal way of working for the pupil. The only thing JCQ says that there has to be a reason other than the pupil just wants to type. The reason could be a specific learning difficulty but can also be poor handwriting. That's why I am so frustrated that our school pushes for an assessment rather than just grant her a laptop on the basis of poor (AND below average speed! - DASH score of 79) handwriting.

I think I reconciled myself to having an assessment, but I want to make sure it's useful and we know what we are looking for and go for the right specialist.

happygardening I think the rules now are more prescriptive - I think they used to be based on discrepancy between the low and high score (or cognitive and processing scores), but now have to be at 84 or below (i.e. full standard deviation below mean). Funnily enough, on some processing tests that school ran (CTOPP 2), DD scored at 80-82, on some (TOMAL 2) at 118-120 so there is no consistent picture on processing. If there was, it would make things a lot simpler.

OP’s posts: |
tiggytape Tue 20-Mar-18 14:02:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mastertomsmum Tue 20-Mar-18 14:17:45

my son has hypermobile upper limbs. According to the SENCO at our school all that is necessary is for them to identify typing exams would help and then establish he is typing tests regularly in school. He will then be permitted to type GCSEs. Not seen Ed psych or physio/occupational therapist since Yr4. Now Yr 7

Traalaa Tue 20-Mar-18 14:35:28

Useful info, thanks! I must have misunderstood the SENCO, as I thought she said it would be hard to get him permission to type. she must have just been talking about the extra time. Good luck, OP. I hope you can navigate it all.

nvcontrolfreak Tue 20-Mar-18 14:47:37

tiggytape thanks! That's exactly how I understood JCQ's approach. That's why I am incredibly frustrated that I am being pushed to do an assessment for DD.

I can't see how they couldn't have misunderstood re extra time as we came to them with a specific request to start using a laptop. Doing tests (processing and DASH) was their own initiative.

The issue is that there is also no written policy re use of word processor at our school (or at least not that I have seen). When I did a quick search online, all the policies from various schools that pop up pretty much mirror JCQ guidance and examples. But what can I do? It's a private school and probably can do as they wish. Why choose "illegible handwriting" as a threshold is quite beyond me, but the question is - do I fight the battle or just do an assessment? The issue with the latter is the cost (which I can live with) and putting DD through yet another assessment (which I am less willing to do).

OP’s posts: |
tiggytape Tue 20-Mar-18 16:28:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sooooooonowwhat Tue 20-Mar-18 17:35:16

nv will message you with OT and Ed Psych details - re the dyspraxia - from what I understand it can take many forms. I was pretty classic dyspraxic - messy, forgetful, disorganised, couldn't catch a ball, couldn't ride a bike until my teens (oh dear I sound great!) - was very academic and did well without any extra help although I do remember my hands hurting and taking breaks/daydreaming during exams because hands were too tired! Ds has learned to ride a bike etc at around the normal time, but OT still thinks he is dyspraxic. His handwriting is beautiful but very, very slow. He reads very slowly too which wasn't a problem for me at all. I think it really does take many forms so don't assume she isn't dyspraxic, I know next to nothing re dysgraphia though so you might be onto something there. Re your other question, yes, an OT report is considered a medical report so is what you need in the case of dyspraxia - an Ed Psych couldn't really diagnose it of themselves. Will pm you the names of specialists and good luck with your dd!

ChazsBrilliantAttitude Tue 20-Mar-18 18:14:11

DS1 has a diagnosis of dysgraphia from a well known EP. His handwriting is partially legible. He handwrites in class but uses a laptop for homework and end of year exams. The school is comfortable it is his normal way of working for exam purposes. He is in year 10 now and I might suggest he uses his laptop more in school for the first term of Y11 to reinforce the normal way of working before his GCSE. This is a London Independent school so I think it is a peculiarity of your DD's school not to allow her to use one.

I will PM you the details of his EP.

nvcontrolfreak Wed 21-Mar-18 17:02:29

Thanks so much to all who replied! I am trying to speak with the school before the holidays to understand exactly what they expect us to do.

I am still confused by what they need to see if we are not asking for extra time. So, if we do go EP/OT route and they say, the handwriting is slow and poor (but not illegible) and she should touch type, would that be acceptable? That's what the school knows already anyway. So do we just need an EP/OT to say this or are is the school looking for more?

I am not convinced DD's processing scores will be low enough to make a difference re extra time etc.

Off to study JCQ requirements in detail.

OP’s posts: |
OnceagainIampuzzled Thu 22-Mar-18 10:02:58

nvcontrolfreak, my DD, who is in her last year of primary school, is having similar problems with handwriting and we are in the midst of having her assessed for a variety of possible conditions, including dyslexia (although she reads very well) and dyspraxia (although she is a reasonably good gymnast). What we have been told, as other posters have also said, is that you don't have to fit the typical description of a condition to have that condition. Not only there are degrees of severity but also the conditions come in different shades—for example, I learned that dyslexia can be auditory or visual (or both) and manifests differently. I'd suggest you have your daughter thoroughly assessed and ask the EP or OT to ensure they specifically include use of a word processor in their recommendations. The school is going to find it much harder to deny you then.

waltzingparrot Thu 22-Mar-18 20:53:12

DS13's (Yr8) handwriting is pretty illegible and I asked his school's SENCO if he could be assessed for disgraphia (he has most of the symptoms) with a view to using a laptop to take his GCSEs. He felt it wasn't necessary to pay out for a diagnosis as we would only end up in the same position of needing to use a laptop, which he is now doing. I was told the school just needed to show that it was his normal way of working in order to be able to use it for exams.

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