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ASD and learning to write ???

(15 Posts)
genieinabottle Tue 14-Dec-10 23:22:44

Hi, haven't been posting on here for a while but still lurking.

Some of you may remember we were having/ still have some issues with DS (5, dx ASD) 's school. He is on SA+ in ms reception.

But before i go off on another rant about the school...blush i'll change the subject.
DS is having some big trouble with writing.
Since the begining of term he has been working on learning to write his name (which is only 3 letters), he still cannot do it properly or alone.
If we do a dot to dot line for him to follow he goes absolutely bananas if he cannot follow the line perfectly and since he never does he ends up in a tizz every single time.
If we try letting him write his name free hand he will do such large letters, write it backwards, write it very wonky and again gets so upset because he cannot do it.

I have bought him a practise book, which has straight lines, curvy lines, patterns to follow just to get him to hold a pencil and trace but even with that he panics and tantrums within 30 seconds.

He clearly struggles to hold the pencil. He holds it with both hands or really on its side so cannot write properly. I noticed he also likes to lay his head down on the table when trying to write (not sure if that is relevant).

Teacher says we need to take one step at a time and get him to write the 1st letter of his name properly first.
Ok, but it has benn one term and he has not progressed with his writing skills. It would seem all the other children in his class are progressing nicely with letter writing and name writting though. I can see it as they write their name each morning on a white board when they come in.
Same thing with art or cutting,... he wants to do it just so, cannot manage it well , gets upset then refuses to do it.
Is this a usual problem with children with asd?

Not sure what to do... confused

zzzzz Tue 14-Dec-10 23:53:37

Mine writes MUCH better with a white board [a little one on the table]. His writing is still huge but he can write all the words he can read.
Can he make his name out of playdough snakes?
Can he write it big in sand?
Can he type it on word?
Fridge magnets?
Icing biscuits?

Just do loads of different things. Each of them IS writing and the more he does the better.
Try chalk, crayons, felt pens, pencils, biros, mircopoints.....all different thicknesses and shapes(the bit you hold). Once you've tried it all let him choose which one to use from the whole box and get him to write his name [as big as he likes] every single day. When he's done it he can eat his favourate raisins/see his favourate tv show. You will see a miraculous improvement. Don't wait for school, just save all the bits of paper in a file and you will give yourself a real boost flipping back through it in a few weeks.

sparky258 Wed 15-Dec-10 04:00:10

yep-i agree with zzzzz.
i had a terrible time with
my daughter and writing and unfortunatly-this problem lasted for 5 years[shes a older child].

i origannally did what zzzzz has suggested to you but i realised the bigger problem was
not the actual writing[although she couldnt write]-but the trying to get everything perfect.

every letter had to be the same height-the same spaces apart and [for instance]all the cs had to look the same ect ect.
as you can imagine-this is impossible so she used to scream the place down.
even the pencil had to be the "right"pencil
with the right "sharpness"!!

this was a nightmare and i decided to forget about the learning to write so much-and concentrate on helping her with the "perfection"bit!
it got to the point that i wasnt bothered whether she could read and write-but i was bothered about seeing my daughter in such a awful state everytime she had to write something.

anyway-this took a very long time[years]
but im pleased to say that now-
her writing is still all over the place-but she can spell and shes a terriffic reader-
she loves books and through this she has gained a interest in history and science.

so-yep-learning to read and write is important but personally i would concentrate on the perfection bit aswell.

i hope this makes sense genie-its nearly 4 am and my wonderful daughter is [loudly]singing her head off[groan]smile

IndigoBell Wed 15-Dec-10 08:06:02

This sounds to me like more than one problem.

But the problem which is very easy to correct as he is not physically strong enough to hold a pencil or to hold his body in an upright position while he writes. Ie this is not ASD it is classic dyspraxia.

You need to do 10 minutes OT exercises every night to
- strengthen his hands
- strengthen his shoulders
- strengthen his core muscles

it won't be quick to fix these problems. But until they are fixed there is no way he'll be able to write.

Spinkle Wed 15-Dec-10 08:58:24

Shaving foam writing is fun. You need to show him how difficult it is for an adult to do 'nicely' too.

Clearly he's a really visual chap and has some rigid thinking.

A blank piece of white paper is actually quite scary if you are worried about 'getting it wrong'

Try coloured paper to see if it helps.

Keep writing sessions really really short - literally try it for 30 seconds a time.

We found bath crayons good fun.

Dot-to-dots are good for making lines and curves (esp good if your little fella likes numbers)

Mazes also good.

Lots of writing with a 'magic pencil' in the sky.

I've seen plenty of 5 yr olds who are reluctant writers who are NT who do eventually get it. My DS (6, ASD) was very reluctant to start with and is OK now. One term is a very short time to get your head round this stuff, especially when so new to school.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 15-Dec-10 09:07:33


Is your son having any assistance currently from an OT?. This is the sort of help he should be receiving as well.

On another note SA plus is truly not worth the paper its written on so was wondering where you're at with regards to a Statement.

genieinabottle Wed 15-Dec-10 11:05:37

Thank you for your replies.

Exactly, for a start he has difficulties with holding the pencil properly and do the writing (although he knows how to spell his name and recognizes the letters), then the second issue is that he wants his writing to be straight and level. He gets upset if it isn't just right and as it's far from it, he keeps saying it's wrong and refuses to even try some days. It's a bit of a vicious circle.

Thanks everyone for your tips and advice. Will try experimenting with different writing materials.
We are on the waiting list for OT. List is longgg we have been told.
His paed has picked up that his wrists and ankles are a bit on the loose side. And he was described by another paed as 'gangly'.
Tbh he also has problems with buttons/zips, ... and he trips up easily when he moves quickly. So it is a bit of a generalised problem.

OverflowingMum Wed 15-Dec-10 12:04:56

Hi genie,
Sounds like you've got a lot of good advise from other posters.
I would just add that co-ordination and fine motor skills can often be impaired in ASD children, though not always. Aslo many have various sensory issues.
My DD3 has Aspergers. She's 6, in Y2. She STILL struggles with writing, and for her there are multiple reasons, partly motor controll, partly poor sequencing ability,difficulties with auditory descrimination and processing make spelling hard for her and now also compounded by the fact that we now think she is dyslexic as well. I have been going into school since she was in reception to express my concerns and IMO the school have done very little to help, and she has made minimal progress.
I am now in the process of applying for a Statement for her (have just been refused SA, and am about to appeal) and I must say I wish I'd done it sooner.
On the other hand my NT now 12 yr old DS1 was also SHOCKING at writing when he was in reception. He had terrible motor controll, and it is true that boys do tend to develop good fine motor skills slightly later than boys. That said he has made excellent progress, his writing will never be beautiful, but he is now in top set for everything at his secondary school , and very academically able, so it hasnt really held him back!
I hope you get the support you need for your DS. Good luck grin

OverflowingMum Wed 15-Dec-10 12:06:05

boys develop fine motor skills slightly later than girls I mean!

Tiggles Wed 15-Dec-10 12:57:08

DS1 had massive issues with writing in reception/year 1 when he went to OT their assessment basically said the school had made him phobic about writing, and thereby also completely wrecked his self-esteem about even being able to do academic work.

In the end I home-edded him for a couple of terms where I did all the writing for him - so he could see he could actually do the work, then when he went back to a new school, he went to one where the year 2 teacher thought that even at that age most boys weren't ready to write so she didn't make him do any writing! It was a shock to his system in yr3 when he had to start writing but his teacher was very patient. I spent lots of this summer holiday helping him write and now in yr4 he can do legible joined up writing. Definitely not the neatest in the class but the difference between now and last year is massive.

He was very like your son in reception, got very upset that he couldn't write as well as he wanted to.(Along with issues with zips, couldn't hop, etc). We did try lots of the above examples - writing in the air, massive letters in sand etc just so that he learnt the directions needed when making the letters. When he was in yr1 his teacher made him a laminated letter page so he could practice writing over (large) letters with a washable pen, then it didn't matter if he went wrong it could be wiped straight off easily and he could try again.

genieinabottle Wed 15-Dec-10 22:24:21

Littlemissgreen ..."When he was in yr1 his teacher made him a laminated letter page so he could practice writing over (large) letters with a washable pen, then it didn't matter if he went wrong it could be wiped straight off easily and he could try again."

smile brilliant idea, thanks for sharing. Will give it a go.

skihappy Wed 15-Dec-10 22:52:26

My ds is aged 6.5 years, diagnosed as dyspraxic and being assessed for borderline autism. He struggled terribly with writing in Reception and Yr 1, before intervention by OT. He would hold his head when trying to write and slump over the table. Exercises to strengthen his core have made a significant difference and he now writes legibly (although still dislikes writing as an activity). I can only stress from my own experience, don't force it. The more I tried to encourage writing, the more frustrated my son became with his lack of ability. Intervention by OT made all the difference.

IndigoBell Thu 16-Dec-10 07:59:10

Good point ski. My DS is 10 and is allowed to use a laptop at school because his handwriting is like a 5 year olds.

We have been doing daily OT with him for about 4 months and now he is choosing to write rather than type!

The only reason we were so late starting OT with him is we didn't realise he had dyspraxia

bullet234 Thu 16-Dec-10 10:18:59

Ds2's class uses shaving foam as one of their writing mediums as well. As Ds2 is not ready yet to learn about writing letters, he uses the tray of foam to swirl about in, but it's all good tactile stuff and for those that are learning to write, it encourages them without the need for grips or precision.

MrsMagnolia Thu 16-Dec-10 12:52:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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