Not In Jersey: A Writing Disability A Writing Disability - Not In Jersey

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Writing Disability

A Writing Disability (Dysgraphia)

As a parent, there are things that happen that you never thought you would experience. For me, having a child with a learning disability is one of those things. A long time ago, I was a school social worker in charge of organizing and facilitating IEP meetings, and now I’m signing pages and agreeing to services as a parent.

You may recall my concern over Zachary’s reading and especially his writing skills. He has had difficulty with writing since pre-K, when he refused to even make a mark on a paper. As far as reading, he was considered on track until the end of first grade, when he fell behind. This year, it has becoming painfully clear that his difficulty with writing is not normal. As I have been saying, when you are in kindergarten and you write like a kindergartner, it’s normal. When you are in first grade and you write like a kindergartner, it’s acceptable. When you still write like a kindergartner in second grade, it becomes worrisome.

Beginning of this school year – “I am thankful to see my friends.” and December – “This field trip was special because we did a mitzvah.” (He wrote this over from his writing journal).

For reading, Zachary has been going to the resource room and his teacher sends me progress notes. His reading is improving, as in the beginning of the year he read 31 words correctly in a minute and most recently he read 75 words per minute – which actually meets the mid-year goal for second graders. He also has been working with a private tutor once per week. We had his eyes tested at an eye doctor and he does not need glasses. He sees an Occupational Therapist for help with his body awareness and muscle strength, which may be effecting is handwriting. As far as his handwriting, if he concentrates, he can write letters correctly, though when he reverses letters, I am not sure he realizes they are wrong.


It makes me sad that he wrote that it is fun to write, because writing is hard for him. In fact, when asked to write a wish for the Jewish New Year, he wrote that he wished he could write better. His problem is when trying to express himself in writing, he cannot get his thoughts onto the paper in a way that is legible to anyone besides himself. His letters are backwards or in the wrong place, letters are left out or mixed up, and words are spelled incorrectly. Much of the time, his teacher writes his thoughts out for him.

From October, but this is the most recent example I have of an unedited piece of Zachary’s writing.

At our most recent meeting, the team decided that Zachary has a “specific learning disability in the area of written expression.” This means that he is eligible for services through the school district to help him with his ability to spell and to therefore express himself in writing.

I admit that it is difficult for me to know that Zachary has this problem. I do not have experience with learning disabilities in myself or other family members. I hope that the extra support from the school district will help him improve, and otherwise I hope that in the future his teachers will be willing to work with him to support his individual needs. My worst fear would be his school being unable to work with him (since he does not go to public school) but so far, they have been supportive and helpful.

If anyone out there has any advice or has experienced something similar, I would love to hear from you.


Janine Huldie said...

No advice to you, just wish I could reach through here ang hug you. I taught middle school disabled kids before having my girls, but being a teacher and a parent in situations like this is definitely two different things. So not sure how I would feel or handle it either myself to be quite honest for either of my girls if I had to.

tamarsb said...

So glad you have some answers/a route to go. It's tricky with him being in the day school - does the public school offer coming in to provide the services he'd be eligible for if he was in the neighborhood school? Are you drafting an IEP - if he now has a dx learning disability he is eligible. Then you can get supports in place. Really, feel free to email me with any questions!

Sara said...

Collin has an IEP for speech and OT. The OT is specifically for his handwriting which is all over the place. Same issues as Zachary. They think it all stems from his low muscle tone. To me it goes beyond that because he also struggles to place letters on the line properly. Like he can't get them next to each other. So letters will be higher or lower than the letter next to it. It drives me nuts. And, homework is a nightmare because he needs lots of breaks when it comes to writing.

And I'm right there with you. I have no experience with learning disabilities and some times it's hard for me to accept it, but I have also learned to be Collin's biggest cheerleader. The constant praise for his effort makes a huge difference in him at least trying.

Now Luke who is 20 months also gets services for speech (or lack of) and he has a special instructions teacher who works with him on understanding basic commands like stop or bring me. I don't think it gets easier to hear your child is different or special (I cringe when I hear either)but just know there are so many moms who have children that just need a little extra help and your not alone. Just that the teacher is willing to help is HUGE!

Dara said...

thanks for the virtual hug!

Dara said...

the public school offers the services but we have to transport him there and back because we don't live in the same district as our school. Also because of that it's going to be a "service plan" rather than an IEP.

Dara said...


Dara said...

it would make so much sense if Zachary had low muscle tone but I've never been told that is the case. constant praise helps here too!

Lilith Sofia - Life after bord said...

Leo has some problem with writing so at school he gets to use the computer and iPad a lot.

Tamara Bowman said...

I'm glad that he's finding support at school. And I'm sorry I have no advice yet. Maybe he really does think it's fun, and maybe it always will be to him. Especially as he learns to express himself better there.