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  • School and handwriting issues

    Hi all,

    My soon to be 5th grade son has always gotten decent grades in school and has never had any behavioral problems at school. He is only a C student in handwriting and we have not been able to improve that grade. I tell him to be more careful and show him how to make the letters more distinct, but nothing seems to change. I always overlooked it as he is just not very good at writing. He hates art class too. HMMM???
    With his recent diagnosis of TS just this past week and reading in the literature that TSers sometimes have handwriting difficulties, I was wondering if I should make mention of this to his new teacher. He does put forth the effort in shcool and I hate to see him continually have his handwriting grade pull down the rest of his A/B average. I don't want the teacher to be easy on him and not expect him to try, but he does seem to struggle with the handwriting issue. I can't even explain to you the odd way he holds his pencil. I've tried to help him hold the pencil the correct way, but he says it hurts his hand to hold it that way. Should the TS and handwriting issue be mentioned to the teacher or should I just let things be. He is not failing in handwriting, but I am sure the teachers have a difficult time deciphering his work as I do. Thank you.

    Grammy

  • #2
    School and handwriting issues

    With his recent diagnosis of TS just this past week and reading in the literature that TSers sometimes have handwriting difficulties, I was wondering if I should make mention of this to his new teacher. He does put forth the effort in shcool and I hate to see him continually have his handwriting grade pull down the rest of his A/B average
    Grammy this definitely needs to be shared. From my experience and from what I have learned through my dealings with OT, that once the kids are in grade 5 it is almost impossible to correct what is happening in how they grip their pencil and create their letters.

    Has your son been referred to Occupational Therapy yet? This is their realm of work. There is a writing program called "hoops and loops and other groups". Many of our kids with TS really struggle with handwriting and opt to print. This is due to pencil grip as well as the pressure they apply to the pencil and even more of an obstacle is that many of the kids have some ODC issues when writing. This often presents as the need to retrace letters to make then perfect yet to others it looks worse. This is why many OT therapists will often recommend the use of a laptop at this stage.

    Your son's teachers must be made aware because he should never be penalized due to his penmanship
    Janet

    TSFC Homepage

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    • #3
      School and handwriting issues

      Thanks Janet for the information. I think I will share the handwriting situation with his new teacher. I am also going to researsh the writing program you mentioned. He does not have an OT. Nothing was said about that at our first visit with the neurologist and I wasn't aware of it. Our next appt. is in October. I can ask then.


      Grammy

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      • #4
        School and handwriting issues

        Grammy,

        Have a look at this Forum posting that discusses handwriting
        Steve
        TouretteLinks Forum

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        • #5
          School and handwriting issues

          Grammy

          Although my son has a very high IQ his has always had slow fine motor abilities. The first sign we saw was his handwriting.

          I like Janet do recommend letting the teacher know. Your son may also find other positions to write that could cause disruption in the class in the teachers view point like mine did.

          We have resolved the issues by getting him to use the computer instead of writing everything out.
          Now that your son is going into the fifth grade he may be able to provide most of his book reports using Microsoft word as long as the margins and spacing meets the teachers requirements.
          With the writing concern he may also be provided more computer time at school.

          My son is a very fast typist yet if he had to do the same thing on paper it would be messy and that of a much younger person.

          Take care.
          PJK

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          • #6
            School and handwriting issues

            now I don't know much about much about tourettes affecting hand writing but maybe there is something else to be looked into like OCD I dunno

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            • #7
              School and handwriting issues

              Hi PJK,


              What are some other signs of slow fine motor abilities? With this being new to me I am interested in seeing if any other abilities might be affectd that I am not aware of.
              I tried today to get him to sit down an do a little handwriting with a more proper hand position. (AAAHHHH!) After 5 years of school, he is used to the way he writes. It looks so uncomfortable to me. I asked him if it hurts his hand to write that way and he said no. I guess his muscles are trained that way.
              I don't know if this means anything, but he seems to have very lax ligaments between his joints. His finger joints bend much farther back than I could ever bend mine. He can also bend his elbows forward went held down by his side whereas mine lock at the point of straightness (if you can picture what I mean). It doesn't hurt when he does this. As a matter of fact, he thinks it's funny to gross people out by doing this occassionally :roll: . He also has very flat feet which I believe means he has loose ligaments there also. His feet pronate inward. So, what I am trying to get at is maybe this has something to do with the odd way he holds his pencil? Thanks.

              Grammy

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              • #8
                School and handwriting issues

                My son, who is going into Grade 6, has had handwriting problems from the beginning. His Grade 1 teacher recommended he see an Occupational Therapist which he did in Grade 2. He saw her twice a month for most of the year. I don't really know if it made much difference in his case or if the improvements would have happened over the year anyway. The fights we had over the extra homework were awful and hardly worth the end result for him. For us it made Grade 2 an awful year -- homework has always been a big issue with my son. His writing is much better now but will never be great. As one teacher said; my son will never go into a job where handwriting is part of the job description. From about Grade 4 on he has been able to use the computer whenever possible. As long as his writing is legible the teachers are fine with that.

                He holds his pen in a strange way as well. Sort of like a claw grip. I also hold my pen in the same way (and I don't have TS). When I was going through school the teachers tried to make me hold my pencil correctly and I was practically punished for not being able to do it. Those memories have stayed with me forever. I would try to hide my hand while writing so the teachers wouldn't notice. Sometime in highschool I remember being tired of the teasing by other kids and started to hold it correctly. So you can teach an old dog new tricks! However, I still find it more comfortable to hold a pen in a claw grip and will automatically hold it that way if I am in a rush. I am glad the teachers at my son's school are more forgiving and have never forced on him to correct his grip. My youngest son seems to hold his pencil in a partial claw as well and he doesn't have TS either (must be genetic). As long as your child's writing is legible I wouldn't try and change his grip at this stage. From my experience it won't work and will only frustrate him further. It really isn't comfortable using the correct grip when you naturally want to hold it in a claw.

                If he is really struggling with handwriting and you feel it is holding him back in school, you could talk about an Occupational Therapist -- it won't hurt. However, my school said my son is too bright to ever be held back because of handwriting especially since computers are the tool we mainly use to communicate.

                Hope this helps and good luck,

                Lisa

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                • #9
                  School and handwriting issues

                  Hi Lisa,

                  Thanks, your post was helpful. My son's handwriting is barely legible. I can make out what he writes, but I am used to it. Actually, his teachers don't seem as bothered by it as I am. I still wish he could bring his grade up in handwriting though. I really don't think it is worth all the whining and carrying on either. I am not going to force him, but I'll tell him to try to hold his pen "more properly" if he thinks of it.

                  Grammy

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                  • #10
                    School and handwriting issues

                    Grammy:

                    Has anyone ever told you that he is double jointed?

                    By the way you have described it certainly sounds like it. In our case their are several family members that are double jointed including me.

                    We use gripper pencils you can find at office supply stores. They are common for students to use but help relieve the pressure used in applying the ink to the paper.

                    The school recognized the fine motor skill concerns with my son early on but did not understand his disorders very well back then. TS was not diagnosed properly until 7 years later.

                    Cutting paper, holding pencils, (we had him use a triangle shape pencil to train his fingers to grip) completing tasks with his hands like gluing paper to poster boards or coloring all showed signs.
                    Combing his hair, brushing his teeth, even buttoning his shirt.

                    We use a lot of snaps, I found a brush he can use with a wide enough surface to speed the process up that is soft.

                    We are still learning ourselves as we were not provided the answer at a young age. We had to learn by reading and asking questions.

                    My son did not receive any therapies for his motor skill concerns as were we lived they did not provide them. He was only labeled and pushed through the system.

                    It was recommended to start him on the computer early and I used a typing program to teach him basic hand position.

                    Now that teachers understand more clearly, his reports are all provided from the computer with his rough copy. He still prefers answer questions instead of having to complete worksheets and homework is a struggle when he is required to do it. Most of it is done in school before the day is over for this reason.
                    PJK

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Getting an OT

                      Hi Grammy,

                      I agree with the others that you may want to look at having an OT do some testing. My younest son (not with TS) has what is known as a graphomotor learning disability, and what that means is, basically, he can't write very well. This spring I requested that the school have an OT come in and review his situation, and they finally did follow through on this. Since she contacted us during the summer, she actually came to our house, did a bit of work with him over three sessions, and we will be receiving her report at the end of the week. As she was hired by the board, if she makes a recommendation that he have a laptop and certain software, it is very likley these will be in place this school year - he is entering grade 6, and I have been fighting for this for 2 years now. (grrr) Now, that said, I don't know how things work in your area (I see that you are from the US) but that was a part of the IPRC and IEP process in the Ontario board.

                      My eldest son - going for dx with the tourette clinic - will be undergoing a 2.5 hour testing with the OT on the Toronto Western Tourette Clinc's team. This person is a member of the team, so that said, I would say that it is a VERY COMMON problem/concern for people with TS. And, in this day and age, with the amount of computer assistance that is availalble, it would be very nice for him to not have work so hard for something that is considered so basic.

                      We actually have a software package called "Dragon Naturally Speaking" that we bought for our youngest son. He talks into the microphone, and the computer uses Word to type out what he says. Let me tell you, homework problems aren't as obvious anymore. He did his speech that way last year, and it was WONDERFUL to not have the nightly fight.

                      Good luck with this - keep us posted.

                      Be well,
                      Jori

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: School and handwriting issues

                        Hi there!
                        My son is going into grade 5 this fall and since last year our school has provided him with a laptop because of the difficulties he has with writing. He too has problems with his grip and also experinces fatigue due to the pressure he uses.
                        The laptop has been a Godsend! I encourage you to speak with his teachers to see what they can do. My son will have his laptop throughout his school years.
                        Regards,
                        MJ

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: School and handwriting issues

                          Originally posted by PJK
                          Grammy:

                          Has anyone ever told you that he is double jointed?

                          By the way you have described it certainly sounds like it. In our case their are several family members that are double jointed including me.
                          This was my first thought as well. My brother would frequently switch from one hand to the other as a kid (not sure if he does it now as an adult) and was double jointed at the shoulders and knees. While his handwritings as an adult are not the most legible documents you will ever come across he is fortunate enough to have grown up in a age where a large amount of communication is done via computers and so his bad handwriting isn't the factor it may have been 20 years ago. As others have suggested you may want to look into getting a laptop to ease the difficult for everyone.

                          You may wish to contact your local Learning Disabilities Association if you need financial assistance in getting a computer as they have a grant program for just this thing.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: School and handwriting issues

                            I agree that it is not worth the hassle to force your child to change his pencil grip. If it's legible and the teachers don't complain then... pick your battles. For those of you who are thinking about a laptop you may also want to consider getting your child an alphaSmart. It can be used for tyoed work yet it doesn't have all the bells and whistles of a laptop and the cost is approximately $300-400 and the school boards ofetn have these available as well.

                            Something to think about!
                            Janet

                            TSFC Homepage

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: School and handwriting issues



                              Hi all,

                              Thanks for all the helpful ideas. I talked with the school counselor and explained his recent diagnosis. I mentioned that he has difficulty with his handwriting and they(his teacher and counselor) will monitor his work to see if it interferes with his grades, such as having a correct answer marked wrong because it was illegible. I have not seen his previous teachers mark answers wrong, but they would mention to him about being more careful. I think the teachers became used to deciphering his writing. He did not have the dx with those teachers either. I have seen his work marked wrong by other students when they would check each others spelling pretests (which don't count for anything). If they think he needs therapy, they will inform me. The counselor was very understanding and helpful.
                              He also started Clonodine a few weeks ago and it was upped this past Saturday, so I mentioned that to the counselor also. They will let me know if he seems lethargic at school. He was having painful shoulder and neck tics, so we decided to give the Clonodine a trial run. School starts tomorrow, so I hope everything goes well.

                              Grammy

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