Click here for my original post defining dysgraphia.
A ten-year-old scribe sprouted under the golden sun this summer. Ashi bloomed with creative stories, seven in all; a bounteous book of poetry and a fictional biography. She even founded her own nation bursting with it's own flag, pledge of allegiance, constitution, bill of 'privileges', set of laws, and national anthem. She cleverly designed badges for the President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Bureau of Investigation; the VP badge is securely fastened to my shirt now.
In our culture of gaming and social networking kids, she is a rare and precious bud, but even more beautiful is reaping what we've sown to overcome dysgraphia. Your child can too. Here's how we shifted from whining over one sentence to lazy days of writing bliss:
~Make writing assignments super short. Work on getting one line. Work on getting one line happily.
~Make all writing about their own interests, put everything else to the side for now. If trains, bugs, or WWII are the only things written about for the next two years, so what?! The idea is to get excited about writing what they love. Just meet them where they are, let that be okay.
~After you get one line with a great attitude, gradually work towards two lines. Later, work for a paragraph. It could take months or years, depending where you are. That's fine.
~Be a patient encourager. Patience and encouragement (or lack of) will make or break your writer.
~ Writing research papers, biographies, or recipes uses facts and removes the creative writing aspect for now, save that for later. Creative writing can be the hardest when dysgraphia is involved. Remember, these papers may be just a few lines in length and that is okay.
~Let him dictate his stories to you. If he isn't able to write one line without complaining, then switch up! Have him tell the story while YOU write or type it.
Remember, dysgraphia is one part physical, one part mental. The physical part means it can be painful to write. The mental part means its hard to move creations from the mind to the paper. Dictation can be the bridge.
~ For some people with dysgraphia typing is less painful than writing.
~If you write the story for your child as she dictates, have her type the final draft. Retyping it themselves will often conjure new ideas that they will add all on their own.
~Separate handwriting and creative writing. 10 minutes of handwriting per day is enough. We did use Handwriting without Tears, but we had tears - like a river! Frankly, there is no magic curriculum for dysgraphia, rather it is how you implement it. Your understanding of dysgraphia is more important than the curriculum.
|A word web we made on our white board.|
~Use a word web for writing projects. Simply put the main subject in the center. Use the four corners for "who, what, when, how, why, how much" type questions.
Show your student how to convert those 4 questions into sentences and later develop into 4 paragraphs.
A word web is a useful tool, helps develop an easy writing habit, can be used for any type of writing, and will lead to constructing an outline down the road.
~Have patience, stick-to-it-ness, and good communication. Ask, "does this hurt?" or "do you want me to write for you?" or "be sure to rest if it hurts." Be encouraging and say, "you only have to write one sentence and I'll write the rest for you!" or "tell me how the story goes, I'll write it!" or "I know! I'll write it and then you can type it!"
~Give yourself permission to change up writing assignments. Ashi finally loved book reports when she learned she could write about a book she hated! Let's not think inside a tiny, little, box.
~Give time to develop ideas. Ashi always knows weeks in advance of a writing assignment, it is never a surprise, I completely remove that element. Ashi can simmer and stew on it. Almost always, after a couple of days she's usually on the hunt for resources as her ideas take shape.
~Just let them use the grip and posture they have. I know. GASP, right? I'd give it a good effort to correct these things. But frankly, I have a drawer full of useless grippies, and if I had a dime for every time I've corrected posture, paper positioning, feet placement, I'd be rich by now. I gave up. So many people just do hold their pencils weird and have their own style of writing. Nagging about these things just makes it worse. If you have a student that you are able to correct that is a super thumbs up, but I just don't and I always choose my battles wisely.
"Let them draw. What if their ideas come out better as pictures?"
~Let them draw. Let them doodle. Ashi's scribbles are on worksheets, tests, doodle pads, notebook paper, grocery lists, calendars, the white board, digitally on the computer - they are everywhere! It's great exercise for weak fingers and what if our kids' ideas come out better as pictures instead of words? It's a lot like sensory integration in my mind. Exercise what they are good at to pick up the parts that are hard.
Annie Eskeldson is a homeschooler and author of the Ashi's Gift Series which can be found at Ashi's Gift Website. She has two children with ASD and enjoys sharing tips and therapy ideas. Come by and friend her on Facebook or like Ashi's Gift page on Facebook too.