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laptops in school for dyspraxia

(12 Posts)
nsure Wed 03-Oct-12 11:05:46

hi, my son was finally diagnosed yesterday with dyspraxia (dcd) , by a private OT, ( he is on waiting list for nhs 0T). My question is how easy is it to get schools to agree to using laptops in school , do they have to , will the fact that it is a private 0T recommending it go against it. He has only been there 3 weeks (year 7), and I know from their form for the OT thay they do not see any problems with my son despite the fact that he still clearly holds pen like a baby would grasp it. Also how easy is it to use laptops in class allthough my son can type faster than he can write ,it is still pretty slow.

porridgelover Wed 03-Oct-12 12:20:15

IME schools are usually fairly open to using laptops where children have difficulty with writing. Your OT should have done standardised tests including handwriting speed. If his handwriting speed is so slow that it makes it impossible for him to attain educationally at a level with his peers, then he needs additional support.
Most OTs will talk to school as part of the assessment so that any problems can be clearly explained directly to the school (and so be an advocate for you and DS).

I would advise that you consider though if a laptop is the best option at this age...they are fragile creatures (!), are not discreet so 'mark him out' and are valuable (target for stealing). Thats not advising against it either; just consider if that is the best option for in school.

Other things to consider are: an Alphasmart or an iPad. Both are smaller, more discreet. Alphasmart is more robust and you can get it to sync with his PC or laptop at home.

There are lots of resources for typing not least online from the BBC. However, if his hand/arm/shoulder strength and co-ordination is so poor that his pencil grasp is at a very immature level, it is likely that he needs OT to develop his strength for typing. Hope that helps.

nsure Wed 03-Oct-12 12:37:54

hi, thanks for replying . He did all the handwriting tests and his writing speed is very poor and also the way he grips the pen so tightly causes him pain when he writes , but allthough better his typing speed isnt very good either .The ipad seems like a good idea (he wont worry about looking different in class , he likes to be different), but I am worried that touch typing is going to be even harder for him. He is really quite bright but looking at his work you would never believe he is 11.

porridgelover Wed 03-Oct-12 13:45:46

Did your OT offer an opinion as to why his grasp/writing is so poor?
Is it a muscle strength/tone issue? Or is it a sensory issue? A combination of both?
Typing is slightly easier than handwriting but is not a panacea. Kids who have poor core strength/postural problems/shoulder girdle stability issues will also find typing difficult because the forearm has to be even more stable for typing than for handwriting.
He may find writing on a sloped surface (about 20degrees from horizontal) makes handwriting and typing easier. Something like this. It would also be usual to look at where and how the child sits, as a chair with more support might also help.

nsure Wed 03-Oct-12 14:14:07

I havnt seen the full report yet , but his writing grasp seems to be a bit of both and the fact he has ehlers danlos syndrome probably doesnt help either. The ot said because he is now 11 and has allways held his pen like this ,it would be really difficult to change that now. my son really doesnt get on with the different kinds of pens that would correct his grip, for some reason they make his writing and pain even worse, which I think is why she thinks the laptop or ipad is the wat to go.My son is certainly able to use spaces and capital letters correctly when typing but doesnt when writing .

nsure Wed 03-Oct-12 14:16:04

sorry forgot to say thankyou and the sloped surface looks like a really good idea for when he does has to write.

bochead Wed 03-Oct-12 14:35:26

Talk to abilitynet. They are brilliant. It's not just the hardware (laptop/alphasmart/ipad etc) but what's on it that counts. Typing isn't the panecea for everyone as some find it as hard type as to hand write. How would your child print/access his school notes for homework? (Google docs is free and would mean docs could be downloaded for use at home but does the school network allow this?).

Some people choose to use a digital dictaphone + voice-text software (dragon speak is the most popular but not best suited for everyone) for class notes and lectures instead of trying to type to keep up. The tech keeps improving so it's really worth seeing what's out there before putting in a formal request. Free mindmapping software is also available that is quicker than typing full sentences but gets the info down for future reference.

A dictaphone costs as little as £30 + perhaps £50 for a software ed licence so perhaps you could make a small investment too that would demonstrate your committment to helping your child. Nessyfingers and other touchtyping tutorials can be as little as £20 - how fast can your child type and do they need help to improve? Do you also have a compatible laptop at home or would you be asking school to allow you to bring expensive equipment to & fro.

I know some would say school should pay for everything, but I'm one who thinks sometimes it's worth picking your battles. If you have a costed solution with perhaps evidence of a parental £ contribution to show willing and can demonstrate how it will work it will perhaps give you a more persuasive argument than asking a possibly technophobe SENCO or teacher for permission & leaving them to think through all the implementation details iykswim.

bochead Wed 03-Oct-12 14:38:39

Forgot to say - for homework an old sloped school desk from a charity shop might be as cheap to buy as a perspex writing slop and can help him keep his school books organised. I got one of these over the summer for my own child as I realised that inkwell aside they are set at the 20 degrees slope the £40 writing slopes are. DS likes the desk in his bedroom, and you occasionally see adult sized ones on ebay.

nsure Wed 03-Oct-12 16:52:07

thx thats really helpful. I dont mind paying for equipment for him if it helps, buts thats just it, as much as he hates writing and finds it really hard , I am not sure typing is any easier for him ,it does stop the pain he has though.I think he could improve the speed of his typing , but I have no idea how the laptop / ipad works in school with regards to homework/different lessons/ teacher marking work etc . would be good to hear someone whos dc does this at secondary school.

mrsbaffled Wed 03-Oct-12 17:44:50

My DS uses an Alphasmart in school (he's 8) even without a specific diagnosis like dyspraxia. He has fine motor problems which get in the way of writing quickly. They were very willing to get him one and encourage him to use it.

porridgelover Wed 03-Oct-12 21:21:46

nsure I am shocked that with a diagnosis of ED that school are ignoring his handwriting issues. I presume he has hypermobile joints as most do with that condition....and it's not going to change hugely even with muscle strengthening so he needs whatever accomodations are available. I am a bit <<grrrrrrr> at your school ....it wouldn't take much googling to find out what ED entails.

i second what bochead advises re Dictaphone for taking notes/homework and to start looking at one of the speech-to-text programmes. Those are strategies that will help him into secondary and further if he chooses.

nsure Thu 04-Oct-12 10:41:57

thx, he has only been at new school for 3 weeks , but your right I cannot believe they think everything is ok, his last primary school ( he was only there for year 6)never questioned his writing grip or anything else for that matter either, they were only concerned about lack of punctuation , spaces , and his lack of being able to think of stories and then writing them down. His primary before that however (sorry bit confusing) had him on a better move on programme for poor motor control, but never once mentioned dyspraxia to me until I asked them if he might have it , this was year 5. I do believe someone should have spotted the potential dxspraxia ,especially since I used to mention his poor pencil grip since reception.I only knew of dyspraxia when somebody asked me if he had it , and then googled it. He was even under cahms for a year for anxiety issues and nobody picked up on all the sensory problems he has that the OT did. sorry this is a bit long but I do feel my ds has been let down a bit.

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