December 17th, 2008


Anybody familiar with dysgraphia?

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?