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[icon] Anybody familiar with dysgraphia? - River's Run My Flow Of Ideas
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Subject:Anybody familiar with dysgraphia?
Time:06:06 am
At the parent teacher conferences last night, my son's third grade teacher suggested he may have dysgraphia, which is a learning disorder dealing with fine motor skills and manifests itself in the form of really sloppy handwriting.  Connor is the gifted and talented program but still struggles with a lot of his assignments, especially finishing timed test and written assignments.  His teacher mentioned that he was very similar to another boy she had a few years ago (also gifted) to the teacher who used to be the GATE instructor at the school and who now trains GATE teachers for the school district.  She mentioned dysgraphia and apparently it's rather common in gifted boys.

When we got home, I, of course, started doing online research, found an article about 8 signs your child might have dysgraphia and wanted to cry in relief and guilt and frustration because 7 of the 8 were "problems" we've had with Connor for years fit him perfectly... hate of buttons, hate of shoe laces, inability to use silverware properly, dislike of coloring or connect the dots, crying fits and frustration with any sort of writing assignment, huge vocabulary and verbal skills but inability to write a complete sentence with proper capitalization/punctuation.  The only thing that didn't fit was that he loves legos (which many dysgraphic kids hate) but even with those I've always noticed he puts them together in an odd way... almost rolling them and smashing them using the table so I think he's just found a way to compensate for his love of building with them over the years.  Of course, we and past teachers have been on him for years about getting distracted, being a little lazy or unmotivated and if he would just pay attention then he wouldn't have to redo his homework, etc.  Just use your fork right and you won't get food everywhere, hold your pencil properly and you won't have such messy writing, tie your shoes before you trip, and buttons.... my god, the refusal to wear any pants with a button when you cannot find jeans in his size that have a snap.... It's driven me nuts for years now and when we've forced the issue of wearing buttons we've ended up with him peeing himself since he can't get the buttons open fast enough.

So, now I'm looking for any information about occupational/physical therapy we could try with him, any other literature on the dysgraphia and in particular, dealing with gifted kids with LD.  Once again, I found a little on the web about that issue and how the kids find ways to compensate and cover up the problem and are able to struggle through with Cs in school when they have the intellect for As (another one of my frustrations with him).  And now I'm struggling with how do I make him understand he has a problem we need to work around without letting him use it as an excuse for not trying/doing things.  I could just kiss his teacher for finding this and suggesting we apply for a 504 program after the holiday break for him that would allow her to give him his timed math test orally instead of writing them and more time on some of the writing assignments, etc, because we both know he knows the answers, he just can't write the answers in the time allowed.  He's already working with a writing specialist with a weighted pencil, but hopefully she will have other ideas for helping him.  We discussed using keyboards and learning to type now but you can't type everything in life and you need to be able to eat with a fork without looking like a caveman. 

So, anybody have any experience/references they could share?
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indusnm
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-17 04:00 pm (UTC)
No real time experiences with this particular learning disorder, but my cousin had a different one and there are a few things to look out for:

First- kids have a really hard time with the taking finals in a different way, etc. Their friends tend to tease them. That said, when they do a lot better, it's awesome to see them do that. My cousin went from having to partner with someone on games like pictionary to being the one pulling out the Taboo game and begging people to play with him.

But he never went to college. He got so used to people telling him he has a learning disorder that he just didn't think he could handle college at all... If that's important to you, and the way the economy is going it probably is, I'd make it clear that was still an end goal and he'd be fine there, even if he still needs to get some assistance there.
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liketheriverrun
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Time:2008-12-18 03:12 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for the insight! And that's what I'm trying to avoid, that feeling of I can't do it because of my condition or use it as an excuse not to even try. He's smart, very smart, and I think he knows that but he's one to give up pretty easily (something that is common, I learned last night, in gifted kids with LDs). I think it has a lot to do with most things coming relatively easy for them so when something doesn't come easy then it must be too hard so I won't even try. I think he'll be open to testing differently (he was pretty stoked about the idea of getting to use a keyboard in class!) especially since he already leaves class 3 times a week for his GATE class. But I really just don't want to blow this when I've finally been given an explanation for all these issues we've had for several years now.
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indusnm
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Time:2008-12-18 03:24 am (UTC)
If he's in a GATE class, you're lucky. Things will work well. However, if they move to mainstreaming him at any point, watch out. That transition is the hardest.
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sobelle
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-17 06:35 pm (UTC)
No knowledgeable experience to share but I certainly wanted to send great good wishes and a lot of joy that first and foremost you know that there's something going on... especially for your son... so he doesn't have to feel so dumb, particularly since he's so smart.

I had troubles with the tying/buttoning thing with my extra smart boys. They still have crap handwriting but they can type like mofo's =) (we used Velcro closing shoes for years! while my teacher MIL scolded me for ~spoiling~ them)

::hugs you all and your son::
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liketheriverrun
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-18 03:07 am (UTC)
It really is a relief to have a name to put to it and have pretty much every "problem" I have with him narrowed down to one common issue that we can now work to address. And yes, I've thrilled we caught it early instead of when he is a teen and has struggled for years and years with it. Thanks for the good wishes!
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nameles_one
Subject:hi...
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-20 07:35 am (UTC)
Not sure if this will be helpful...

My son has ADD and mild dysgraphia. It's possible that the dysgraphia is actually caused by ADD. ADD does effect fine motor skills and depth? perception [whatever it is called that prevents a person from walking into a doorway]. ADD is caused by a neurochemical imbalance. Boyo started taking Adderall in 6th grade and it has helped tremendously, particularly with the easily frustrated to the point of tears and with his penmanship. He's now a junior with a 3.8 GPA. All of his classes have been Honors or AP[unless there wasn't 1 - like Health, Art, or Japanese]. Since he still struggles with English, I asked for a 504, but it was denied based on the A's in every other subject. Boyo may try to offer ADD as an excuse but it certainly hasn't gotten him any accommodations so far.

My son finds it easier to compose on a PC because: 1. revisions and editing are easier and 2. after writing for a few minutes his arm starts aching [though he can draw for hours]. You can pickup an older model Dell pocket PC [with MS Pocket Word a VERY stripped down version of Word] on ebay for < $40 & a foldout keyboard for about $10. I think part of the anxiety in composing is the dread of having to cross out or erase lines.

If your son is having difficulty writing answers for tests, perhaps the school has a PC with voice recognition that would transcribe his answers? Or even just record his answers?

BTW I was diagnosed with ADD at 36. My handwriting improved the day I started taking Adderall & I can't remember the last time I knocked my shoulder into a door-frame. ~_^

Good Luck.
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liketheriverrun
Subject:Re: hi...
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-22 01:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for the info! And I'm so glad to hear that both you and your son have responded so well to the Adderall. If anything, my son is just the opposite of ADD... he has an amazing attention span to the point I started to wonder about his sister not having one. Ends up she's the normal one. *G* And we are looking into gettting him a computer. I had thought of it for Xmas anyway then decided to wait for his birthday in March. I'll probably get him a typing software for Christmas to use on the big computer which he tends to hog anyway and maybe a small laptop/notebook for his birthday.
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mousedm
Subject:dysgraphia
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-02-02 06:25 pm (UTC)
Hey River

I've been so into SPN recently, I haven't visited here for a while and I was astonished to see this. This sounds so like my son who is 11. (He also loves, and is very good, with lego).

Daniel is homeschooled so we were able to tailor our studies around his needs. I just cut him a lot of slack on his writing. It was the one area he fought me in so I didn't push it. He's just been identified as having 'visual/motor integration problems' that is - fine motor control problems. We had him identified because he was accepted into the local community college for math classes. He's in precalculus and I can't teach him any more! There he has someone taking notes for him and he has extra time for tests.

The irony is, he passed the college's writing test because it didn't involve any writing! He can edit the wazoo out of other people's writing, but when it comes to his own, it lacks all sorts of punctuation and grammar.

By best advice would be to homeschool, but I know that isn't an option for many people. Actually as he grows older, he'll find that writing becomes less and less important. I know another kid with dysgraphia and takes his lap top everywhere and has an accomodation that he can take notes and even tests on his computer. People keep assuring us that voice recognition software will make even keyboarding outdated by the time our kids grow up. It's only schools that place such an emphasis on handwriting.

I guess my suggestion for now is to concentrate on his strengths. Let him shine in the areas where he's gifted. The OT gave us some special paper with alternatively coloured lines that is supposed to help his writing, but strongly suggests we concentrate on typing. There are some great programs out there like word prediction software that can help.

Please feel free to email me if anything here interests you.
jsdssam@embarqmail.com

Take care

Sarah

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liketheriverrun
Subject:Re: dysgraphia
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-02-10 03:48 am (UTC)
His teacher has really been great and we just set up a 504 program for him at school that will let him work more at his own pace. I realize that writing by hand is nearly obsolete in modern society, but there are other things that I worry about. Sure he can wear slip on or velcro shoes, but he really needs to be able to eat with a fork without looking like a land mine was hiding in his Mac and Cheese. *G* So I'm looking for possible exercises he can do to strengthen his fine motor skills.

He was typing this weekend for his science fair project and seemed to do well with that. I plan to pick him up a typing training program so he can improve on that and learn the home position, etc. Oh, and his teacher had him write on special paper with raised lines and it made a *huge* difference (I accused him of bringing home someone else's writing assignment because it was so neat. *G*) You might want to check that out for your son.

The problem with typing is that our state requires writing tests at various points in their schooling. The first will be in 5th grade and typing isn't allowed because of the issue with spell check, grammar check, etc. He will be allowed to have more time if he needs it on the 504 program, so that's good. I'm just hoping that we'll alleviate some of the anxiety he has with writing and that will be half the battle.

Thanks so much for the info and I'll keep your email handy in case something somes up!
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[icon] Anybody familiar with dysgraphia? - River's Run My Flow Of Ideas
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