Twice exceptional kid and frustration

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-18-2005
Twice exceptional kid and frustration
12
Wed, 11-23-2011 - 10:12am

M. is driving me to my wit's end.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 07-23-2002
Wed, 11-23-2011 - 12:03pm

My kids have all been slow to develop as writers, and my ds has dysgraphia. As homeschoolers we haven't been beholden to others' expectations, nor have we needed written work for evaluation purposes the way teachers do, so it's been easier for us. But with that proviso out of the way, here are my thoughts:

Has he got an IEP for his vision / fine motor issues? If not, you could explore that. At any rate, I would think a meeting with the teacher would be warranted, in which I would highlight the fact that the current approach is beginning to cast a pall of resentment over all his schoolwork, and you want your 1st grader to love learning, not fight you over it.

Miranda
in rural BC, Canada
mom to three great kids and one great grown-up
unschooler, violist, runner, doc 

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-18-2005
Wed, 11-23-2011 - 1:50pm

*sigh*

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iVillage Member
Registered: 07-23-2002
Wed, 11-23-2011 - 2:27pm
Well, you could still take dictation for him maybe?

And maybe going back to the teacher and explaining that her current approach of "lots of writing and some more writing too" is producing (a) no dramatic improvement in writing skills and (b) dislike and refusal of more and more of his learning work.

And do ask about Handwriting Without Tears. Most OTs are familiar with it, and sing its praises unceasingly. You could say "Okay, we've tried doing more and more writing. It was worth a trying, but at this point it is clearly counter-productive. We need a new approach." Sort of "Thanks for Plan A, but the signals he's sending at home make it clear that we need to think about a Plan B now."

Sometimes, with some kids, it makes sense to push a little just to get them over a bit of a hump. That may have been her thinking. But clearly this is not "a bit of a hump" for M., at least not given the general writing expectations of this classroom.

Miranda

Miranda
in rural BC, Canada
mom to three great kids and one great grown-up
unschooler, violist, runner, doc 

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-18-2005
Wed, 11-23-2011 - 2:29pm
Boy, I really need to find time to update my siggy. The baby in the siggy is almost 3! M. is just over 4 there, and he is turning 6 next month.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2006
Wed, 11-23-2011 - 10:04pm
No advice here...just expressing my frustration that a 5 year old is expected to produce that amount of writing. Totally inappropriate, IMHO. (My homeschooled kid probably couldn't even write all of his letters until he was 7, but now he's taking several college courses per semester that require a lot of writing, primarily English and history...and getting A's.) I doubt that delaying writing for a couple of years would stunt your child's intellectual growth permanently...

Deborah
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-06-2010
Wed, 11-23-2011 - 11:40pm
I think Miranda gave some great advice. I wish I had known as much when my older DD was in your son's shoes at exactly the same age. She went on strike eventually in 1st grade and stopped working for about six months, and I'm certain that the pressure to write played a role.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2004
Sat, 11-26-2011 - 10:05pm
OK, sounds like your son has some of the same issues as mine, only mine is now in 4th grade.

First, you need to have a meeting with the OT and the teacher. The OT needs to explain to both of you what his disability is, and what the appropriate amount and type of work for him is. Perhaps the OT can substitute other writing practice for him instead of doing regular written work.

Ask about an aid at school, another student (even from an upper grade) or volunteer scribing for him. This would be for things like the book report, current events reports. Ask if you can scribe for him at home. I would also ask what the appropriate amount of time is for kids his age to spend on homework each evening. "Until they get it done," is not acceptable. You need to know the amount, and then stop after that time. He is a child and he deserves to have some time that is not school time that he can play which will in turn help develop those skills.

Seconding Handwriting Without Tears. This is standard for kids with writing issues, and the OT should be having him practice when with her. You may need to see about getting a book and doing a page a day to satisfy the teacher that he is getting appropriate practice with his writing. Ask the OT.,

Last year I had my school test my son more for the writing. For him it is partly the generating it, as well as the motions of writing. He ended up qualifying for extra technology, and the school got him a typing device called a Fusion, which does word prediction and typing skills. Your son may be a bit young for this yet, but do ask. Scribe may be better for him right now at his age. There is also a program called something like Dragons Naturally, or Dragons Speaking Naturally, which is a computer program that you have to train that will dictate what the speaker is saying. Again, may be somewhat advanced, and most teachers and OT want the kid to be writing some during this age.

Because we are homeschooling with an ALE in Washington, I was able to pick curriculum for my son. This year I got a book called "Writing Skills for Special Children" that starts slowly with learning to write simple words, then phrases, then sentences, slowly moving up to paragraphs and essays and reports. It is designed for slightly older children than your son, who are behind, but ask the OT. When I showed my OT she was amazed - she had seen parts of the book, but never the whole thing. She said it was perfect for my son, and liked my plan of doing a page a day. Again though, your son is younger.

You may be wise in asking about state testing and accommodations for that. You want your son to do well, but if your tests are more than multiple choice, he will do poorly due to his writing skills. He may need accommodations for the vision too - if it is multiple choice, can he write in the test book, or does he have to write on a separate paper with lots of dots and confusion? Our state tests are combination of multiple choice and written - even for math. My son did poorly on these tests, below grade level for math, and at the cut off on reading. Yet, the week before he did a computer based testing that was multiple choice and scored way above grade level for both. The type of test clearly matters for him. He had just gotten the Fusion at the time of state testing last year, so he didn't use it. This year I know he will do much better as he has had much more practice with the Fusion. Getting a scribe now, or something like the Fusion now, will help him with state testing so that the school can score better, even if he doesn't take the test for a couple of years.

I have to agree with others, that the amount of writing is too much, and I see burn out for all of the kids if this keeps up. I know this is an advanced class, but, really? I predict that by 3rd or 4th grade most of the kids will have rebelled. In reading books like "The Well Trained Mind" and writings by Charlotte Mason (an educator from the early 1900's in England who developed a philosophy of education,) they both do not recommend doing that much writing. Charlotte Mason is more starting doing narrations (probably like the book reports) around 8-9 years old. Susan Wise Bauer, author of "The Well Trained Mind" says that the kids should be writing sentences for narrations by the end of 1st grade, and working on doing paragraphs by the end of the next year. Otherwise, both of these authors advocate advanced knowledge and early reading.

And I am a firm believer that if a kid can do what is asked, 99% will do it because they want to please the adults. If they can't do it, they will rebel, cry, refuse, etc. But, in their hearts, they want to do what is asked. They just can't. Let your son know that you understand this and you don't think less of him. Good luck with getting the teacher to understand this.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-18-2005
Mon, 11-28-2011 - 8:05am

The irony of the whole thing is that his handwriting looks at least as good, if not better, than mine did when I was a good two years older.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 08-04-2003
Fri, 12-02-2011 - 9:55pm
Have you looked into dictation software for him? I would research it and have another IEP meeting and/or talk to his OT. The dictation software could be used in the intern while he gets stronger in his fine motor areas to relieve some of the stress and anxiety from school. DS1 types in school instead of writing.... he has great fine motor skills, but terrible handwriting, it has gotten worse as he's gotten older. They plan on reassessing him for disgraphia/dyslexia in the next semester.
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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-18-2005
Mon, 12-12-2011 - 12:36pm
They starting using Handwriting without Tears with him on their own, before I got my meeting. Seems like they're not sitting on their laurels. M. is pretty excited/happy about it.

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