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Handwriting Difficulties


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Joined: Nov 03, 2005
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Posted May 30, 2001 at 10:45:48 AM
Subject: Handwriting Difficulties

My 8 yr. old son continues to have problems with handwriting. Some problems include: improper pencil grip; letter and number reversals; uneven letter size; inappropriate spacing between letters and words; and improperly formed letters. He hates to do any work that requires him to write. He is especially frustrated because although he can express himself extremely well, verbally; he cannot get the words, thoughts, etc. on paper.

My son has also had problems with spelling. We will study spelling words for his weekly exam, both orally & by writing the word. He does pretty well, but then comes home with most of the words wrong on the test. DS also has a lot of trouble writing words "according to the way they sound." For example, he will have to think of a sentence and write it down. He can tell me the sentence and then after much prodding, start to write. Most of the words are spelled wrong and don't even look like they would sound.

He also struggles with reading, but has shown great improvement over the last year. He is able to read most words in his assignments, but still reads very slowly...haltingly...and without any expression. 2nd grade teacher also feels that DS has trouble staying on task, when not interested in the subject matter.

I have always suspected dyslexia, but was told by the school counselor that he is too young for such a diagnosis. BTW - He was tested for ADHD after much urging from his Kindergarten & 1st grade teachers. The psychologist's report suggested that his IQ was in the gifted range; and that he did not appear to have ADHD. Other LD tests were in the "normal" range but she felt that he may be smart enough to pull the test results up into this range just by guessing or compensating. (IE. school won't provide any services.)

Does any of this sound familiar to anyone?

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Anonymous
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Posted:May 30, 2001 12:17:07 PM

It sounds as if you're describing my own son at the same age who is dyslexic and dysgraphic, as well. Our school was sadly not much help.

Schools say fairly if a child is not reading comfortably in the 2nd grade that it can still happen later and, as a teacher, I've seen that too. But school gets harder and harder while we're waiting for the "light to go on".

If you can, there wouldn't be anything wrong with having a reading specialist or a tutor work with your son to see if his path can be smoothed a bit.

Good luck.

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Anonymous
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Posted:May 30, 2001 9:58:23 PM

Yeah. Sounds like you could be describing our son at the same age. Not so much with reading difficulties, but double so on the handwriting and resistance to write etc... Not excluding the district refusal to address dyslexia/dyscalcula. Sounds very familiar.

Seek outside independent expert evaluation and work from there. Precious time is wasting for remediation and help while your son is still young.

Andy

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Anonymous
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Posted:May 31, 2001 12:49:26 AM

My son was the same way at that age (last year). When he was diagnosed with ADD, his doctor at the time suggested that we have the school do further testing because ADD often masks other LDs. After a long fight, we did get the testing and they said he tested at the same level as his peers who later were found to be dyslexic. We just changed pediatricians and had him do a referral for an independant evaluation. When all was said and done, my son was found to have dysgraphia, but we were told that because his IQ (102 at age 8) was so high he is not dyslexic. They just call it a severe reading disability.

My best advice to you is to seek an independant evaluation if necessary. Don't waste anymore time waiting for the school to do it. Most schools want to wait until a child either fails a grade or gets bad scores on their first standardized tests. And check with your state board of education because the cost of an independant evaluation is often reimbursable, if you want to fight long enough to get it back.

My son will be entering the fourth grade next year and we have already lost roughly two years of reading skills with him (he tested 2.2 on his last evaluation). He missed something in the decoding skills they taught him. He is past Hooked on Phonics, which I bought and didn't need, but still has to concentrate so hard on decoding the words that he cannot make sense of the sentence or paragraph. Next year he will finally get remedial reading, but it took a letter from his doctor to get it.

Also, because of the dysgraphia, he will be using a laptop with a word processor next year for written assignments. His brain to mouth is great, but brain to hand loses something. Even he can't read his writing when it gets cold, so I act as a scribe for him, printing exactly what he says and letting him fix it himself. This also had to be in writing from a doctor, so as I said before, I would get an individual eval as soon as possible, but the school also has to honor such letters from his pediatrician, so discuss this with your doctor also.

Good luck and I hope this helps.

Crystal

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Anonymous
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Posted:May 31, 2001 9:14:43 AM

If your son's IQ is in the gifted range but his achievement is only average, then there is a problem. This is the classic GT/LD profile. Schools are supposed to evaluate a child based on his or her own potential (meaning IQ) rather than against grade level standards. Average achievement for a kid with a gifted IQ is not acceptable. I recall some kind of advocacy letter raising exactly this point. It may be found somewhere here on LD Onlin,e but I am not sure. Perhaps someone else will have an idea where it can be located. GT/LD are often denied services because their disabilities mask their gifts and vice versa.

Andrea

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Anonymous
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Posted:May 31, 2001 12:37:41 PM

I have to strongly question what you were told about dyslexia. An average or high IQ is ***not*** a contra-indication of dyslexia. In fact, dyslexia is associated with above-average IQ. The only possible reason I can think of for this explanation is that the test-givers are following some obscure research criteria definitions of dyslexia. Basically, dyslexia simply means difficulty learning to read in spite of normal IQ and in spite of normal environmental opportunities. "Specific reading disability" is the current politically correct terminology for dyslexia. "Specific writing disability" is the current politically correct terminology for dysgraphia.

Hooked on Phonics is sometimes helpful to non-LD children. It is generally not at all useful for children with LD's.

Have you looked at the book, "Reading Reflex"? This is an approach that tends to be highly successful with LD kids, and the book is written specifically for parents. You could likely make a lot of progress this summer tutoring your son at home using this approach. Alternatively, you can look for a certified PG tutor to use, or have your son attend a PG-intensive. PG is quite amazing in its ability to teach decoding skills. The approaches used by schools tend to be quite tedious and slow, and sometimes not very effective. You can waste an awful lot more time waiting for the school to remediate. Personally, I would recommend private remediation using PG. Website is http://www.readamerica.net

Mary

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Anonymous
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Posted:May 31, 2001 3:09:34 PM

Can anyone explain the PG approach versus Orton Gilligham. My dd is in a private school that uses OG. She is going to a summer program that plans to use PG.

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Anonymous
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Posted:May 31, 2001 4:25:35 PM

Has your son ever been evaluated by an Educational psychologisat or an Occupational therapist? You're describing a sub-type of dysgraphia which has characteristics of dyslexia ( reversals, visual misperceptions, etc.). There are a lot of things your son can be doing to help strengthen and accomodate his areas of weakness. I agree that you should seek independent evaluation if the school is not being helpful. My nine year old son has dysgraphia. An outside neurologist recomended evaluation by an O.T., and the school complied. He now receives O.T. once a week through his school. Good luck.

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Posted:May 31, 2001 6:01:18 PM

are often an indication of developmental vision delay. If you haven't consulted a developmental optometrist, you may want to check the listings at http://www.covd.org

I'm not saying that an OT won't help. However, many professionals are totally unaware of developmental vision delays, and it's worth checking out. Developmental vision delays often cause visual/motor integration problems that show up in OT evals.

Dysgraphia also often has elements unrelated to vision and visual/motor coordination. Sometimes a child will test perfectly okay on developmental vision and OT eval's, but still have great difficulty writing.

Audiblox and PACE both have excellent directionality exercises that help with reversals, especially those related to visual processing problems.

Mary

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Posted:Jun 01, 2001 1:41:06 AM

OG teaches in very small increments with lots and lots of review. It also teaches from letters to sounds. It might take a letter combination such as "fr" and teach that this makes the sound /fr/. OG has a very sequential approach to teaching reading. That is, it teaches detail after detail in order to build up to the "big picture" of reading.

PG is really different. For one thing, it starts with sounds and teaches the "pictures" used to represent those sounds. It works on developing 3 skills -- segmenting, blending, and phoneme manipulation. It starts with a few well-chosen sounds that can be immediately blended into words to get the child reading quickly. As soon as the child has these few basics down, it moves the child into text. In many ways, it works to provide the child with a "big picture" of reading first, and then works on details to fill in all the pieces. There is very little drill and review. PG would never teach that "fr" makes the sound /fr/. PG teaches that the sound /f/ is represented by the word picture "f" and the sound /r/ is represented by the word picture "r". They are separate sounds that can be blended together. The child is taught that sometimes there is more than one word picture for a sound, and to run through different possibilities when a word doesn't sound right the first time. PG avoids teaching rules.

Mary

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Posted:Jun 01, 2001 4:52:35 AM

Mary,

I am not completely sure where you have gotten your information about the OG sequence of skills but I think you may be misinterpreting what happens in an OG tutorial. OG isn't as different from PG as you think in theory and goals but the methods are a bit different.

OG teaches students how to blend individual sounds and the letters or letter combinations that represent them into words. The rules are to give LD students a metacognitive strategy for retrieving the information they need to decode when they are stuck. I know PG doesn't focus on the reasons sounds go together the way they do- and I also know that it works for a lot of kids. But- some kids need the rules. It would be one of the reasons that IMHO OG- not the OG programs- but the procedures and strategies in a good lesson- is a more intensive therapy for correcting reading issues. There are tudents for whom PG is a more sensible way to go and I am delighted that it is available for them and that it works.

OG also focuses on segmenting in a very multisensory way- while teaching students the correct orthographic expectancies for the words that they are writing. When there are choices- and there are lots of them- they are taught how to make the choices and what their best bets are.

OG also practices reading fluency skills in a well designed lesson as well as the application of reading skills to uncontrolled text. Comprehension is addressed also. In writing, students practice encoding various representations for the sounds they have been taught, practice blending them into words and then using them in phrases and sentences.

OG is multisensory, thorough, carefully sequenced and has an enormous amount of very reliable research to back it up. PG is relatively new and makes a lot of intuitive sense and there is some research that says it works. It is a well thought out program. It is not for every child. Neither is OG. But good teachers - and I think that you are one, certified or not- have the depth of knowledge to be able to make choices about what will work best for a particular child.

Robin

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Posted:Jun 01, 2001 1:04:28 PM

I agree that PhonoGraphix is a great way to teach children to read.

However I'd like to throw in something else for you to consider. Please read the book "The LCP [long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid] Solution: The Remarkable Nutritional Treatment for ADHD, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia" by Dr. Jacqueline Stordy. It is a very compelling book with up-to-the-minute summaries of scientific research. You can buy the book at amazon.com and probably most bookstores. You can go to her web site www.drstordy.com or learn about ADHD and fatty acid deficiencies at www.borntoexplore.org

My son has been on essential fatty acids supplements since November and we have seen very positive improvements in his attention, reading, handwriting and mood. They are gradual changes that can take months to see; this is not a quick fix. Fatty acids are critical to building brain cells including cells of the eyes. I think that's why they help visual deficits that one sees in dyslexia. I could go on and on. Check it out for yourself!

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Posted:Jun 01, 2001 4:07:02 PM

Robin,

I am just wondering. During the brief time that my dd did OG, she complained that it was very boring. The tutor even suggested she might be ADD/ADHD, because she had a hard time sitting still for an hour of it. Dd complained that she had to do the same things over and over (such as finger spelling) even though she already knew how to do it (this seemed to be the review component of every session). She did practice reading with the tutor, and I didn't mean to imply that OG doesn't include practice reading text. However, it seems to me PG stresses this much more strongly.

I know that my daughter was working on "bl" for awhile with OG. It was taught separately from "b" and separately from "l". While this has significance for spelling, it is not only unnecessary for reading, it introduces additional complexity.

Anyway, it seemed to me that OG is very detail-oriented and sequential -- the very things that drive my dd nuts. Would you agree with this? I know that our tutor was not very experienced at the time, so this may have been part of the problem, but it didn't seem to be the whole problem.

It just seems to me that PG should be tried first, in general, because it works so much faster for so many children. I shudder to think what life would have been like had PG not been a choice for us and OG our only option. Also, I know several children who have been doing OG for years and still don't read at grade level. I just don't buy that all of these children have more severe problems than my dd.

Maybe it doesn't help my attitude any knowing that our tutor's 11yo dd still reads at a slow 3rd grade level despite massive doses of OG from her mother (they homeschool). I suspect she's one of those children with a blending problem who is now bogged down with rules, attempting to thoroughly analyze every word before saying it.

Have you seen children make faster progress with OG than PG? I realize that some children are going to need a slow, detailed approach with lots of review. However, OG seems to me to be a lot like Saxon math -- a choice of last resort that works for a few kids when faster, more conceptually-based methods don't.

Although I take the new and promising approaches with a large grain of salt, I also take the tried-and-true approaches with a large grain of salt. Just because they have a long track record doesn't mean they are better! Yes, OG works. Fast, it isn't.

Of course, I have the luxury of being just a parent who can speak my own mind. If I had encountered professionals who knew what they were doing -- when we ***needed*** professionals who knew what they were doing -- I wouldn't be so opinionated now!!!

Mary

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Posted:Jun 01, 2001 4:53:06 PM

Og is certainly detail oriented and sequential. And it is necessary to talk through thise rules. I actually don't think that starting with PG is a bad idea at all- it is simpler way of explaining the system after all.

I have never had a child be bored however- but then I am one of those mean tutors who try to consistantly challenge students rather than going over the same thing again and again:) Most of my kids would look at their passage and at me and say "I can't do this" to which I would respond- try. And lo and behold- they did it. The thing about tutoring LD youngsters is that you have to remember that these are smart kids. They NEED to be challenged and to have their limits pushed- while at the same time they need to have their tutors be fair and not ask them to do things they have not been taught.They need to know that they can rise to the challenge. I suspect that your tutor's inexperience might have been more of an issue than you think. It takes some time and experience to get that sense of how far to push- and how hard.

I have never actually compared OG and PG in terms of speed of remediation- what a graduate study that would be! And I like it that you are opinionated Mary- this would be very boring place to hang out if we couldn't have spirited and useful discussions!

Robin

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Posted:Jun 19, 2001 2:52:43 PM

My son is being tutored this summer using the OG method. I am not familiar with what PG is and would like to educate myself on it. First off what do the initials stand for and how can I read more about it? Thanks in advance!

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Posted:Jun 19, 2001 2:52:59 PM

My son is being tutored this summer using the OG method. I am not familiar with what PG is and would like to educate myself on it. First off what do the initials stand for and how can I read more about it? Thanks in advance!

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Posted:Jun 19, 2001 6:36:57 PM

PG stands for Phonographix, a reading (phonics) method developed by Carmen and Geoffrey McGuinness. They have a reading clinic based in Florida. It is designed to be simple enough for parents to use with their children at home, and they provide a lot of support via training materials and their website. It is not a bad program relative to sequence and methods, and the folks who use it, from whom I am sure you will hear, think it is wonderful. I have a somewhat more moderate view, in that I think it is appropriate for those students whose deficits are not too severe- it is quite believable that this population would respond very quickly to the teaching provided. It is a little weak on the connection between decoding and encoding (IMHO) and spends far less time on the "why" part than OG. There is also not the vast body of research supporting it that OG has- but it is also relatively new so that makes some sense. It is however, a good program and easy to use. For kids who REALLY need to reason words out- that need the "why" along with the more therapeutic intervention, I think OG is a better choice.

Robin

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Anonymous
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Posted:Jun 20, 2001 4:41:38 PM

Thanks for the reply!

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