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Alpha Smart? Writing Slopes?

(9 Posts)
mrsbaffled Wed 12-Oct-11 16:42:25

Hello, we had our first proper meeting with the SENCO (also DS's class teacher) at parents' evening last night. I think it was a helpful discussion, but a lot of it boiled down to "talk to me again once you have seen the paed". Luckily this appt has finally come through for next week (I will be relieved once we have seen her!!)....

I was very disappointed to discover that the dyslexia assessment that was allegedly requested in March by his old teacher, was, in fact, never requested(!), although the SENCO said it doesn't tell you much other than if he has "dyslexic tendencies", which we know he has anyway.

Anyway, she said that (depending on the outcome of the meeting with the paed) there are Alpha Smarts available for his use. Does anyone here have experience of them. Do they really help?... HOW do they help?....

Plus we will probably have to get him a writing slope. We have a wooden one for at home (given by a friend who doesn't use it any more), but would value a recommendation for a cheapish one suitable for school.

We said we have been doing "Toe By Toe", but given up on it for the moment as it's clearly not helping with spelling, and she said we might consider doing "Hornet" (by the same people) - again what are anyone's experiences with this? Is it good, or would another scheme be more useful?

Thanks in advance.

cat64 Wed 12-Oct-11 17:10:45

Message withdrawn

EllenJaneisnotmyname Wed 12-Oct-11 17:15:16

Not sure how an Alphasmart will help with dyslexia. It's basically a robust word processor suitable for note taking in lessons. My DS2 (ASD) used one for 4 years in primary school due to his dyspraxic tendencies. His writing was/is rubbish and very slow so typing sped things up enormously. And it didn't feel like so much of a chore for him. It does have a spellchecking facility but only a simple one.

I can't remember your DS's difficulties, is he seeing an OT? My OT friend recommended the Alphasmart. DS2 only really wrote enough for it to be beneficial in juniors. I assume a writing slope will also help with dyspraxic difficulties. My DS has never had a DX of dyspraxia, but it's so commonly co-morbid with ASD I've never bothered to persue it. Interestingly he's not dyslexic at all...

mrsbaffled Wed 12-Oct-11 17:27:30

Thanks for the feedback. He has hypermobile arms and dyspraxic tendencies, plus significant spelling difficulties on top of the physical problems. He is in year 3.

I am hoping the paed will refer to OT and physio.

I expect it would take DS a long time to get used to it (if they let him use it) - he's not quick at typing(!), but I suppose it might encourage him to write something...he has a strong emotional reation to writing, but this is lessening now as I am not correnting his spelling (I figure it's better to encourage him to write something substantial that's illegible, than not writing anything at all!).

madwomanintheattic Wed 12-Oct-11 17:31:42

dd2 didn't get on with an alphasmart - but i can see that it may be helpful for dyslexia etc as you can only see about three lines of text at a time, so would narrow your field of vision etc. very limited. it was the reason it was problematic with dd2 etc - she needed a full lap top with all the associated features, rather than the oversimplified alphasmart... hers came home and went back to school etc for note taking/ homework, but they gave up on it fairly quickly.

he doesn't need guesswork though. he needs an ot referral.

mrsbaffled Wed 12-Oct-11 17:32:22

*sorry my post is full of spelling errors too(!) perhaps I need an Alpha Smart as well LOL!

mrsbaffled Wed 12-Oct-11 17:35:33

I agree madwoman. I will have a long chat with the paed next week smile

IndigoBell Wed 12-Oct-11 19:07:14

I'm using hornet literacy primer and really like it. I think it's the best spelling program out there for children with auditory problems.

I wouldn't recommend an alpha smart unless your child physically can't write (as opposed to can't spell)

we also use a writing slope. DS likes it I think - but again that's not for dyslexia it's for fine motor skills problem.

moosemama Wed 12-Oct-11 19:26:26

My ds has hypotonia in his core, upper body and arms, poor fine motor skills and finds writing a struggle and painful.

He has an Alpha Smart for long pieces of written work and loves it, but he is totally obsessed with electronics/computers so that may be a factor.

The main problem we've encountered is the actual AlphaSmart malfunctioning and losing his work.

Personally, I don't think it helps with things like considering layout when writing a piece, as he can only see a couple of lines at a time and has to connect it to a pc, put his work into Word and then edit it. Ds is already blissfully unaware of considering his reader in putting his work together and its actually an important part of writing, so editing after the fact is not quite the same thing.

What it has helped enormously with is getting rid of his flat out refusal to write more than a few words, and helping him to remember to put spaces between his words - which is something he has never been able to do consistently, but using the space bar seems to have helped with (although he still doesn't do it when handwriting something).

Ds uses his AlphaSmart for longer pieces of written work eg literacy or project work, but still has to handwrite in maths and for pieces of work that only require a couple of lines or descriptive paragraphs. The school and I agreed that we still want him to work on his handwriting skills and use them regularly enough that his handwriting skills don't deteriorate further.

I also do about ten minutes a day with him on handwriting practise, making sure he uses the correct pencil grip, has consistent letter sizes and is forming his letters correctly. I tend to incorporate this into his spelling homework.

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