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Kids refusing point blank to out pen to paper!

(11 Posts)
Abbierhodes Mon 17-Feb-14 09:20:16

I wonder if anyone has come across children who won't write. I'm in secondary, and the three students (different classes) are all boys, with significant problems.
One has ASD, one is undiagnosed but under the ed psych, and one has had serious problems in his up bringing.
I am in the SEN department in a mainstream school, and teach all 3 of these boys English.
My opinion is that their self esteem is so cripplingly low that they don't think their ideas are worthy of paper, but I'd love to know if there's any research on this?
Can anyone point me in the right direction/ suggest something I haven't thought of?

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 17-Feb-14 09:33:40

Ds is in year 5 and we are paying for a private ed psych as CAMHS refused to refer him to the ASD unit

It's a perfectionism thing we think

He genuinely can't think of how to start. He will sit crying, hysterical with a own in his hand. If you give him an idea to start or a example that's wrong or cheating

We've found that he is able to produce work if he can either type it on the computer or even better dictate it into a recorder (we use his iPad).

MmeMorrible Mon 17-Feb-14 09:55:54

Are they embarrassed about their writing or lack of literacy skills? I used to know a 15 year old boy who had successfully managed to hide his near illiteracy from his school and parents. If asked read aloud or write anything he would either refuse, not turn up or get his older brother to write for him. It amazed me that not one person seemed to notice that he just couldn't read and could barely write.

Abbierhodes Mon 17-Feb-14 10:07:59

MMe, yes, I think that is what it is in 2 of the cases. We are working with them to try and improve this- in fact one has made some major breakthroughs with his reading very recently. The boy with ASD is very literate though.

Pictures, have you tried allowing him to write in pencil with a rubber available? I have another student (apart from the 3 mentioned) who came to me able to write in pencil, although he rubbed most of it out initially, he normally has something to hand in at the end of the session. He's another with low esteem, and definitely a perfectionist.

Thank you for your replies. I really enjoy working with these children and find it fascinating, but I wish there was more I could do to help them.

madeupstuff Mon 17-Feb-14 10:17:42

(DS - 9yo - HFA)

'Perfectionism thing' / esteem - that fits.

We've been actively working with school and an external consultant with ideas for DS, much effort on 'writing'.

He doesn't want to do something until he knows that he's going to do it well - a real anxiety and fear of failure - this extends to other things as well (tying shoelaces and telling the time for example).

Recent ideas (most of which seem to work to a greater or lesser degree)

Working with an erasable medium, so mistakes can be corrected (erasable pen/whiteboard/typing).
Use structure in whatever is being written, so plan out what's going to be written, so when it comes to producing the text itself, they know what's coming and the 'shape' of the whole thing.
Converting initially hand planned/written to typed - allowing for things to be fixed/finished.
Separate out the different aspects of 'writing' into different tasks -
- handwriting
- creative (writing)
- structure

We figured that if the handwriting was blocking, then we could treat that as a separate task, independent to creating a coherent story (for example).

blueemerald Mon 17-Feb-14 10:18:18

I teach English in a boys' EBD school and this is a problem I would estimate 70% of our boys have. I haven't discovered a 'cure all' yet but individual solutions include:
Writing on paper (lined or plain, different colours too; not in a book (the book is too perfect and permanent to write in)
Writing on a notepad or jotter. Feels more like a draft for them.
Writing in (blunt) pencil, felt tip, crayon, one specific type of pen
Word processing
Dictating to a scribe
Giving everyone starter sentences or fill in the blank opening paragraphs (it's not cheating if everyone has it, not everyone might use it)
Doing storyboards first
Allowing students to tear pages out of their books if they ask first. I think knowing they can get rid of it without any punishment lowers stress levels and they make less mistakes anyway.
I sometimes photograph writing in progress so if it gets destroyed I have a record to share with the student later

Abbierhodes Mon 17-Feb-14 11:09:23

Thank you both- some fantastic ideas there.

Blueemerald, how do your boys react to the photographing thing? I like it, but one of my boys would almost certainly be tipped over the edge, so to speak! One may be OK with it though, interesting idea.

Does anyone know of any research in this area?

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 17-Feb-14 11:10:10

Yes. He prefer much only writes in pencil but rubbers make too much mess.

madeupstuff Mon 17-Feb-14 12:02:34

'Pilot Frixion' pens are interesting - less messy than pencil, although if you need to keep work long-term for evidence (or otherwise) take a copy, as I've read that it fades over time.

blueemerald Mon 17-Feb-14 12:23:05

Everything I do is in discussion with the students, they all have huge trust issues with adults so springing things on them is not a good idea.
Most of them don't mind as long as they know I'm not going to show anyone. Even reluctant ones have expressed relief (when they've calmed down) that their work is still around after they destroyed the original and that, upon reflection, the piece isn't that bad. It seems to give them a level of removal from the work that reduces anxiety.

I'm afraid I don't know any official research just what I've observed in the past 5 months!

Hellosquiffy Mon 17-Feb-14 22:56:57

Abbier Take a look at Executive Function and see what you think, there's quite a bit of info out there which may help.

My Ds has ASD (EFD isn't just found in children with ASD) and along with being a perfectionist he also struggles with his EF, although he had cognitive assessments done by the EP and he was above average with regards to his working memory etc. His difficulties with EF is apparent everyday but at school he tends to shut off if a written task involves too much planning.

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