Friday, January 15, 2010

Educational Strategies: Addressing Handwriting Problems

I'm not sure how many people know this but some individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have difficulty with handwriting. Fine motor skills in general can be a problem. As you will see in this article, titled Kids with Autism Need Handwriting Help, Hans Asperger noticed that this was an issue with some of his patients back in the 1940s.

This is so true with my son. He's always had problems with handwriting and has had occupational therapy (through the school system) to address problems with both fine and gross motor skills for years now. I can only imagine the frustration he goes through as he has tried to do school work with pen and paper all day.

Only now, through the START program, have (and my team) figured out that his refusal to do school work might be associated with the difficulty he has with handwriting. The two pictures seen above show two possible ways to address handwriting difficulty (besides Occupational therapy--but speaking of that... here is a list of hand strengthening activities).

The first is the P-Touch, a label maker, and the second is a y-shaped pen (that my son hasn't tried yet) which supports the hand better. Both of these can be purchased at an office supply store such as Staples or Office Max for around $30 U.S. With the P-touch, one can type in answers in response to a question on a worksheet, hit print, peel off the back to uncover the adhesive and then apply the sticker to the sheet.

All the teams participating in START received a P-touch after turning in an Action Plan at the end of the two day Module on Educational Strategies. (An action plan is a document consisting of proactive strategies designed to help the student. We have to complete one for every module.)My son's teacher took the P-touch into school.

To be honest, the initial success with the device was modest. His teacher, the wonderful Mrs. S., reported that C1 loved the device and that did use it to complete some work. However, she also said he was still refusing to do work in small group settings and was using the P-touch to type in "no," as in he wasn't going to cooperate!

So the P-touch isn't going to be 100 percent of our solution, although it certainly does help, especially now that my son know understands what he should and should not do in terms of using the device. I'd highly recommend that any team who has a child with autism who struggles with handwriting or compliance to do work, to at least try this device or one similar to it.

Note: My son is doing better with compliance to do work. As of now, he is doing great in the special education room, but has suddenly decided he isn't going to work in his regular fourth grade classroom (which hasn't been a problem before). So compliance still remains to be a problem that must be addressed. This is an issue that cannot be solved over night, but with patience and the persist ant use of the correct educational struggles, I believe this issue can be overcome.


Cassavaugh Family said...

I love it. You know there was a little reluctance to implement the p-touch with S at first. But then they found an appropriate use for him. He goes to a sensory break after the last recess when he returns the kids are already copying down the note they need to put in their agenda. So he is usually behind and its a task that is hard for him. So he takes his agenda with him in a case they got that also has visuals and other things in one container. Then before he returns to class he gets to type up the note for that day, put it in his agenda and then go back to class.

We also got all excited and decided with HAD to have one. We bought one on sale and the kids were all excited about it. However, I haven't figured a way to implement it in an appropriate setting so its just just used for play at home. The positive is that we purchased it prior to the decision to begin using it for the agenda note at school. So when they pulled it out at school he said WOW we have one of this at home! So he was at least familiar and knew what to expect with it.

babyyahyah said...

we have those pens as well.

Corrie Howe said...

Thanks! I've been fighting the school about this for years. He just got keyboard assess and training to type, but I love the label maker idea for worksheets!

Casdok said...

Excellent that your team figured out C1s reluctance and can now be more proactive of how to help him.

Marla said...

Oh my! This is fascinating! I am soooooo looking into this. Handwriting is an issue here. It is exhausting for M on certain days.

Ruby at Science Summer Camp said...

Brilliant! It is really wonderful that you find other ways to make it work for you. So nice that you did not give it up right away.