Hi, there. My son has a high verbal vocab (99.9 percentile) and reads well and gets 10 out of 10 for all his weekly school spelling tests BUT...
He really struggles with writing and will do ANYTHING to avoid it!
The school has always told me his writing is behind others in his age group but that generally he's doing well. They put his lack of quality written output down to his wish to use words that are very advanced for his age. ODS think there might be a learning disorder! Now he has started to complain that writing is painful. He gets headaches from concentrating so hard and cramps in his wrist. He also has trouble forming the letters (especially b,p q ) and tells me he can't spell. At first this puzzled me because he's always top of his class in spelling but then I realised something - he has such a large memory of facts and words that all the words he gets are likely to be ones he already recognises so theres no need to break them down phonetically. (Week 1 of new entrants I was told they wouldn't send anymore words home as he already knew all the words to year 2). Someone suggested dyslexia but I thought that was problems with reading and he's really good with his reading. Again with school books he already knows all the words and the school books are no where near the reading level he's capable of. He often reads textbooks he's found at the library and then will voluntarily give anyone who will listen a detailed account of what new facts he's learn't so reading appears to be no problem. But when I asked him how to spell orange he said he didn't know. So I asked him to write it for me how he thought it might be spelt. Attempt one was oreies and then orwes. Most of his writing is nonsense words full of xx or oos. We have a speld assessment coming up but in the meantime I have a very frustrated boy torn between his boredom for school and his intense dislike for writing. When he was tested last year the ed. psyc. found his receptive vocab was much lower than his information vocab so not sure if this is linked. Basically I know something is not working for him. I can't ignore the fact he says hes in pain even though the school thinks álls well. I'm curious as to what similar experiences others have had and what they did about them! Any ideas would be great!
Dyslexia does sound like a possibility, but I wonder if dysgraphia might be more likely. This is a learning disability in writing, which shows itself as difficulties in putting ideas down on paper, poor handwriting and trouble with spelling (though that last one may raise a question mark for your son). The LDOnline site states:
"Just having bad handwriting doesn't mean a person has dysgraphia. Since dysgraphia is a processing disorder, difficulties can change throughout a lifetime. However since writing is a developmental process -children learn the motor skills needed to write, while learning the thinking skills needed to communicate on paper - difficulties can also overlap.
If a person has trouble in any of the areas below, additional help may be beneficial.
Tight, awkward pencil grip and body position
Avoiding writing or drawing tasks
Tiring quickly while writing
Saying words out loud while writing
Unfinished or omitted words in sentences
Difficulty organizing thoughts on paper
Difficulty with syntax structure and grammar
Large gap between written ideas and understanding demonstrated through speech."
Do any of those sound familiar? If so, this might be another avenue to explore.
The pain in the hand sounds like Dysgraphia. With my daughter we kept being told that it was because her brain went so fast and her hand writing couldn't keep up but things would eventually settle. By the time she got to high school she came out of her yr 9 exams with a big lump out of her wrist and she has tendonitist from trying to hold her finger joints in place. We had her diagnoised with an Occupational therapist and put onto keyboarding. She did the technology class instead of cooking which equated to the old typing class. She has excellent typing skill and got and exemption which the OT prepared so that she keyboarded all the rest of her exams. She is at University now and the exemption was redone for Varsity. My son also has dysgraphia but he was so extreme we were able to get onto things with him from the start of school . He uses drawing to keep improving his fine motor skills and started on touch typing software from 5yrs. We have also done gymnastics with him to strengthen and maintain the muscle tone in the shoulders and arms which also helps with the loose joints.
I would suggest having your child assessed by an Occupational Therapist and taking it from there. Sooner rather than later as the aversion brings with it significant barriers to learning and/or school.
'receptive' means to receive or understanding the words you hear, information vocab is an unusual term which I take to mean 'expressive' or explaining what a word means.
A point about Dysgraphia - many folk gets fixated on handwriting abillities and will practice and work really hard for ages, and have therapy to help correct dysgraphic difficulties. This is fine for youngsters - but please consider giving a child with dysgraphia a laptop, access to the classroom computer, or to a scribe to write for them at least some of the time so that they can express themselves when writing without the frustration many feel. This is specially important for older students [late primary onwards] who need a way to develop writing skills and their self concept outside of how neat their handwriting is, or how well they can spell and express themselves in witten format. Writing should not be painful!
For all of you with older students who have difficulties with writing or who would like to develop their writing for High School or University there are very good books written by an NZ Lecturer called 'Write That Essay" [High School version is available from Whittcoulls, the Unversity one is availabel from University Book Shop.
Using a laptop for NCEA, CIE or IB exams is not generally a problem if it is the students usual means of writing and especially if they have been assessed as having dysgraphia - an Educational Psychologist can do this.
Hi. I suspect my son has dysgraphia. We are in Lower Hutt. How can I go about getting him assessed? We can't afford private as we paid for an ed pysch assessment ourselves as the school was not interested in recognising he was gifted, or had anxiety, or doing anything about his poor handwriting, spelling, and writing...
I totally agree with Alison - I could have easily been the child in the original post and being able to use a laptop for my schooling now makes a HUGE difference - a laptop works with the way my brain works so no struggle and no pain.
There is absolutely no need for handwriting difficulties to be a learning DISABILITY these days.