Seeking Advice from Other Parents of a Child with Dysgraphia

Updated on March 28, 2008
K.G. asks from Chagrin Falls, OH
16 answers

My 10 year-old daughter was recently diagnosed with dysgraphia (difficulty writing) and I wonder if anyone else has a child with this learning disability who can share what has worked well for them -- and what has not worked well. My daughter does not have a "motor" issue, but rather a memory retrieval breakdown which makes writing more difficult than it should be. Also, if you have approached the schools about this issue, I would be interested in your response. Did you implement an IEP or 504 plan?

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D.A.

answers from Cleveland on

Hello, I have 2 children w/ dyslexia. I know it's different but the school situation is much the same. Get an IEP. It's way more specific about what a teacher cannot count against her grades, i.e. my kids' spelling doesn't count for in-school tests and essays. My 12 yr. old daughter gets more time for some tests and some assignments.
As far as help w/ the dysgraphia, have her keep practicing! I remember when I was told to have my kids practice reading and I thought it was strange advise. But it works because they develop their own system to compensate and learn to work around it. Really! Both of my kids are straight A students in regular classes!

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H.H.

answers from Cincinnati on

Hi K.,I am a mother of three. they range from 7,5 and 9 months old. I am going through something like that right now with my son. He was having problems reading and it finally clicks but now we are having trouble with his hand writing. you don't want to let go. I have been through it! he is in 1st grade now and I am having him tested. The school is giong to give him an iep test to see if he has a learning disability in reading. He is very smart in math, sience and social studies. I had to keep on the school about this! My friends son had this and had to do an extra program after school to a speicalist and he is now fine. Hes in the 2 grade. you will have to see what special services the school has?. Good luck! H. h.

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L.C.

answers from Dayton on

Hi, K.,

My son, Chris, has a written expression learning disability. He was diagnosed at approximately the same age as your daughter and was put on an IEP plan. As part of his disability he has difficulty putting the imformation that he knows on paper. If you were to ask him for a verbal response he could give you an articulate, well thought out answer to any question you asked. If he were to have to write that same answer on paper, it would be disjointed and difficult to read. I don't believe his is a motor issue either. Although his handwriting is horrid, it is just a bi-product of the bigger issue of taking that thought to paper almost like a victim of a stoke having difficulty putting thoughts into words. The IEP has been invaluable in helping to accomodate his difference in learning and expression, however it is only as good as the teacher who honors it. You will be your child's greatest advocate for the rest of her educational experience and at times it will be hugely frustrasting. If I knew then what I know now this is what I would do better or differently:

I would ask for a scribe for major tests or at least for achievement testing that is done each year. I would communicate with my son WHY he was getting a scribe (so that all he had to concentrate on was what he knew, not what he could write down).

I would make sure I knew in detail how the accomodations on his IEP would translate to the classroom. In other words I would find out specifically how the teachers were going to implement the IEP. Would they pass on making him write down the questions as well as answers? Would part of his spelling test be oral? Would they allow him to test seperately to allow more time to write answers out?

I would sit down with him and ask him what HIS frustrations were. When everyone around you seems to be flying through their homework and it is taking you longer it is hard not to feel inadequate. Chris spent alot of time feeling stupid when he didn't need to. I didn't know what I was doing, so I helped him the best I knew how, I just didn't understand the depth of his low self-esteem.

As soon as it was possible, I would have a psychometrist come in and run intelligence tests that would help figure out where he excelled so we could play to those strengths. We did that this year and it turns out in other areas he is gifted. This would have been great to know BEFORE he was 14 that way we could have spent this time playing to his strengths and implementing his gifted area to compensate for his disability. It would also have gone a long way toward improving his self esteem.

It was suggested to me (and this might really help your daughter as it is not a motor issue) that it might be beneficial for him to learn how to type. Then we could get him a laptop and he could take notes, do homework and even spelling tests from there. It was suggested that when we took the actual writing aspect out of it, we would reduce some of the stress and it would allow him to think more clearly and have an easier time expressing. It would also help him feel more confident about turning his work in or letting someone proof read it.

If you want to talk more, cause we have been through it for about 4 years now, just pm me.

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E.W.

answers from Cincinnati on

K.,
I am an intervention specialist. Although I do not have a child with dysgraphia or a memory retrieval problem, I have a studenet that graduated last year that had a memory retrieval disability. He was on an IEP. He had an average to above average IQ. You need to go through the public school district you live in or are serviced through and request a meeting with the teachers, psychologist, and principal. You are working toward getting your child accomodations in class, on tests/quizzes, and especially standardized tests. The actual diagnosis of learning disability will not follow her to college or anywhere else, after graduation, unless you or she requests it. However, this will allow her to receive accomodations on the ACT and SAT as long as she is receiving accomodations in the classroom.
If you have more detailed questions, feel free to email me. Truly, the dysgraphia can be worked through more easily than the memory retrieval problem.

E. W., M.ED.
20% off your order of $40.00
www.marykay.com/elissaward
[email protected]____.com

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J.K.

answers from Columbus on

Go to your district and request an assessment...since she already has a diagnosis start with the Special Education Coordinator, she'll have to qualify but services and accomodations through an IEP are much more in depth than a 504 plan. I am an intervention specialist at the high school level and have three kids with dysgraphia in my program. One student was able to get a laptop with the program software "dragonspeak" installed. It is software that will type what you say to it, but may be a little complicated (and expensive) for your daughter's age. Also check with the Educational Service Center in your county. They have consultants that work with the districts --also I know Knox Cty has a parent advocate program

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B.H.

answers from Columbus on

Hi, my name is Debbie. I'm an Orton-Gillingham Tutor. I have a favorite site that you may want to visit to obtain a clear answer to your quandry. I do hope this helps: http://www.ldonline.org/indepth/writing

Hugs, Debbie

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A.H.

answers from Columbus on

I do not have experience with this as a parent, but have had children in my classroom who have had this issue. I would recommend a IEP or 504 plan. This will put in writing what modifications your daughter needs to be successful and establish clear goals for her education. Most importantly in my opinion, it can provide her with a scribe for the Ohio Achievement Tests, which should help with extended response issues. I taught younger students, and for them, I provided copies of what they were trying to write from the board so they didn't need to look up, try to find their place, look down, and try to remember...I also shortened writing assignments, allowing them to dictate if necessary and possibly allowing typing on assignments in lieu of preparing a final copy. However, I will tell you that this was quite difficult in a class of 30 and I couldn't scribe all the time. I hope this helps. If you have any more questions, please write!

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M.F.

answers from Indianapolis on

I am a mother of three children. My first child, though very bright, had a horrible time writing neatly to express all of the thoughts he wanted to share. I searches several years ago and found the program Handwriting Without Tears. We never had any diagnosis, as ours was truly a fine-motor skills issue. However, in recalling what you're mentioning, I thought the program was used for dysgraphia, as well. I've googled this morning "Dysgraphia" and "Handwriting without Tears" and there are those researching dysgraphia that have recommended HWT to help the child. Tools in this program are not too expensive, although back in the day, $13 was a lot to me! :) The great thing about HWT is it is kinesthetic...using more than just one of our senses and multiple media.

http://www.hwtears.com/educators/therapists/childrendisab...

They will have a display at the IAHE convention for homeschoolers April 18 and 19. Great programs and products. There is an entry fee into the exhibit hall, but you can call the IAHE office for a recommendation of the fee and when the least busy time is to shop or meet a representative in a booth.

You would probably get great help calling HWT directly, too.

###-###-#### In. Assoc. of Home Educators
http://www.inhomeeducators.org/iahe/

In my experience, after having used a public system to assist in speech therapy with the IEP, I would NOT do so again. Basically, it's asking for government dollars to be invested in helping your child, but then has you sign contracts from time to time... I just feel it's an invasion into our parenting. Just my personal thoughts.

Lord bless you through helping your precious daughter!

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M.A.

answers from Muncie on

Hi ,
My son (13 now) was diagnosed with the same thing about three years ago. As far as the school is concerned, as long as you have a diagnosis from a doctor (not a school psychologist) outside of the school, you just ask the school counselor or psychologist about what the next step is for iep or 504. My son was struggling and I asked before I did anything else. The school did their own testing and I had to fill out several papers and questionaires. Then they told me to get a diagnosis from an outside source. I chose the pediatric psychologist at a local childrens hospital. After that there were a few meetings with teachers and the speech therapist at the school (my son did not have a speech problem but this person was a important advocate for children with this issue), and we all decided what was best for him. This can be modified at anytime and at different grade levels.
I will say, I know people who have tried to get help with their children and were not directed in the right direction because of their school. I advise everyone to get their own diagnosis. By law the school has to respond and get the iep or 504 started. Our school was wonderful but I have heard that some schools do push it to the limit with time frames and sceduling problems. They have a certain amount of time to respond to you and get the process in motion. It did take several months before it was all an official documentation. We chose the iep because it stays with your child for life. If they need it in college or the military, it will be there. Good Luck. I am a mom of 3, 13,9,3 and I am 37.

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L.B.

answers from South Bend on

My son is 10 as well, and has Tourette Syndrome, ADHD and dysgraphia as well. Though we are still working on what works best for him, definitely pursue the IEP or 504 plan. My son currently has the 504 plan which in VERY simple terms means that there are classroom modification made for him. A few of them in regards to dysgraphia are: he is provided a copy of notes that were taken in class. Repetitive work for example, writing their spelling words 5 times each is reduced to 2 times each. Cursive handwriting is not a requirement, there is no grade penalty for neatness in his writing. His writing is based on content only. When possible oral answers or multiple choice options are given on a test. We have begun to teach him some typing skills as well, but since we also have a motor issue it has been difficult. The biggest thing that I would recommend, is that all school systems have an occupational therapist, find out how you can have your daughter observed by the occupational therapist and try some of their recommendations. One thing that we have tried that has REALLY helped is what they call "compression" exercises before he begins writing. For example, he presses one finger at a time and "streches" out his fingers first then he presses each finger against each other and stretches out his hands, he then makes a fist as tight as he can and then releases it. Always remember one of the biggest problems with dysgraphia is not only that the child has difficulty getting the thoughts from their brain to the paper, they also deal with the anxiety of their disorder. Your biggest obstacle will be to help them overcome the obstacle and get all of their amazing creativity out of their brain! In your research, as I found, and I am sure you will find as well, typically kids with these kind of disorders are exceptionally bright and creative....our jobs as moms is to just help them get it out!!!! Good Luck!

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M.R.

answers from Cincinnati on

Definitely pursue either the IEP or the 504 plan. While I cannot speak directly to the dysgraphia issue, I can give you a lot of information about IEP/504s as I am a teacher and have sat in on many meetings for IEPs and have had to fill out numerous reports for students on both IEPs and 504s. There is a distinct difference between the two. As I read your response, I am gathering that you are looking for more information about dysgraphia as opposed to learning more about the IEP/504 process. If you would like to or need to learn more about it - we're talking basic, unbiased information and not opinion - just send me a PM and I'd be happy to help. I have no agenda when it comes to IEP/504...as a teacher, the plans come my way and I follow them as they are legal directives.

The 'scribe' idea is a good one. Also, have you looked into the possibility of using a laptop for writing/note-taking?

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M.N.

answers from Cleveland on

As a teacher, you'd need to approach the school in developing any type of plan, but I'd say a 504 would be best. Though I've never heard of your daughter's diagnosis, it does not sound like she has learning problems. 504's will still enable her to get scribes for state tests and even for tests in school. This is just my opinion based on what I've seen, but have the school take a good look at her and determine what is best. Oh, can she type?? If so, that could open up other options for you.

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C.H.

answers from Cleveland on

I am interested in hearing who diagnosed her with dysgraphia? This sounds like what my daughter who is 15 has. She does have an IEP in place. She was not diagnosed with dysgraphia though. She can tell a story very well, but to put the same story in writing is quite difficult for her. She has trouble spelling as well, but reads way above the normal reading level for her grade. I did have to keep asking for the meetings and they looked at spelling, math facts, organizational skill (which has since been removed) and general writing skills and I was able to get an IEP in place. I think it helps to have the teacher on-board with the process. Her teacher initially said she had ADD, which we had her tested for and was ruled out. I hope you are able to get an IEP or 504 in place for your daughter. I know it has helped my daughter and she does very well in school!

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M.N.

answers from Cincinnati on

K.: You got great advice for tools to help with the dsygraphia issue as LD Online is a very useful site. My 11 yr. old just got a 504 plan this year, after 2 team meetings and 2 previous years of me predicting to the district she was going to falter and I wanted steps in place BEFORE that happened. Now, after 2 "F"s, she has the 504 and we are exploring the need for a more detailed IEP. One caveat to the IEP over the 504 is that you child is then 'labeled' as a disability and maynot get the respect from some teachers that they all deserve. My 5th grader does not have fine motor skill issues either, and can write/use cursive but needs much more extra time. I am going to look into the dsygraphia issue for her. Thanks. Send me a PM if you have any specific questions.

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J.G.

answers from Columbus on

Your description of her not having a motor issue but a memory issue is extremely representative of a potential dyslexic. Dysgraphia is as you might think, a by product of a different issue. Most schools do not test specifically for dyslexia or the ability to narrow down visual or auditory memory issues acutely enough.

I started Dyslexia Institutes of America locally as a result of similar issues with my own child. Please check out www.diaohio.org or call me at ###-###-#### to talk offline.

J.

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L.G.

answers from Lima on

I would very much like to know where or to who you went that gave this diagnosis?? I have a 6yr. old kindergarten girl, who has a terrible time writing. Sometimes with even just writing her name I feel it is a thought processing problem. She knows what to do, but it takes her forever.
Then sometimes they are suppose to write a sentence about a given object/subject and her sentence might be totally unrelated. She has EXTREME difficulty in expressing feelings in writing, which makes it seem like she doesn't want to write at all.

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