Graphomotor issues in a gifted child?

Meg - posted on 03/24/2009 ( 13 moms have responded )

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We just went through a battery of tests with our 9 year old who is having some difficulty in school, and he's off the charts. The word 'brilliant' was used repeatedly, both by the district psychiatrist and by the special ed evaluator. The OT report showed no physical problems, but noted left-handedness and a need to teach more comfortable paper positioning. What it came down to was, as the psychiatrist described, a 'bottle-neck' effect when he tries to get all that knowledge out on paper. He's in 3rd grade, and testing out at 5th-11th grade on every test not involving writing. In written tests, he's at 2nd grade. He's social and happy and creative in so many ways, and he wants to be a writer when he grows up.

Watching the worry drain from his teacher's face as she got actual proof that he's learned everything she's taught and more was worth masses - I can tell she feels less pressure to make him write, so he feels under less pressure, so writing is easier for him. He says school has eased up some now, but I know it's still an issue. How do I help him overcome this graphomotor glitch and show the world how smart he is?

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AmBuer - posted on 09/28/2009

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My daughter age 6 just now really started writing because she was so frustrated at being a lefty and her teacher trying to make her a righty in kinder. They were so focused on how you have to form your letters, top to bottom, left to right etc. I finally said forget it and started working with her in a big bowl of play sand. I would write my letter, say "B", and I would tell her to make hers like mine. And when she started to go from bottom to top, I ran with it. Once she started knowing how to make letters and form them into words she was interested. then I started to teach her how they are written correctly, and she is okay with it now. She practices her handwriting, and she is doing really well with it. It also helps that they have tables and chairs and not desks in her class. Because then she can sit whatever way she is comfortable. And the teacher put her on the end where her left arm is on the end, so she Is not bumping elbows with her neighbor. The teacher also keeps clipboards in the classroom in case she would rather sit on the floor, couch, or bean bag to do her work. Thinking outside of the box has made all the difference in the world. Oh, and I found that legal pads work much better than notebooks for her, and also single loose leaf paper, and then put it in a binder if that is what the teacher requires. Most teachers should be willing to allow those small accomidations. Good luck!

Lisa - posted on 09/20/2009

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Sometimes that brain is working WAYYY faster than it can actually process the actions it takes to write! Since the left side and the right side are working together at the same time, it can also cause problems. My kids love to work on their fine motor skills in fun ways that are not necessarily writing... eye droppers with colored water, play dough,softened clay, tonging,tweezers are all cool things to work with to develop fine motor. Also, try having him dictate to you while you write for him. It will allow creativity and relieve some of the pressure of having to WRITE! Good luck! Time and patience will change everything little by little:)

Lisa - posted on 09/10/2009

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My just-turned 6 year old hates writing. He never wrote before he started school - could barely write his name. The first time I asked him why he didn't like to write he said "it's all up here (pointing to his head) - why do I need to write it down?"
So that was that.
His teacher has discovered that he writes almost perfectly when someone (a teacher or aide) is with him and when he is writing on the whiteboard. We are going to trial him writing on a personal whiteboard at school - the teacher thinks it might be something to do with the thickness of the marker or the angle of the board, time will tell, but at least he will be writing.
They also decided to let him use a computer at school which allows him to get on with his extension activities (he was initially not completing them becasue of the writing involved).

Sandra - posted on 08/30/2009

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My 5-year-old doesnt like to write either. He will occasionally write a sentence in his journal. We tried Leap Frog's Mr. Pencil, but he dislikes that as well. The only thing I see him showing interest in is mazes- which should help a bit. I hope it will change in time.

Sounds like the OP has some progressive teachers who are willing to use a keyboard. Maybe being left-handed is more of an issue than most think?

Kelli - posted on 08/30/2009

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I have to agree with you Jennifer. My nearly 5 year-old son is just not interested. He reads like crazy, has many interests, and tells wonderful stories, but writing is just not on his list of things to do right now.

Jennifer - posted on 05/13/2009

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I was advised to encourage my 3 year old to work with clay (could also do cake decorating, making bread), and practicing writing with just a finger in shaving cream on a table. Personally I think that it is an issue of boredom (there are some very real exceptions to this). Writing takes practice, and for gifted kids, most things don't.

Stephanie - posted on 04/08/2009

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My 12 year old has always been like that.  My family has a lot of gifted kids in it and all have the same problem--fine motor problems and awful writing.  I had that same problem.  What fixed it for me was being given a journal to write anything I wanted in.  I wrote in it daily and doing so improved my writing dramatically.  Since your son wants to be a writer, try introducing the idea of a "free write" to him and hand him a journal.  Handing them a keyboard or laptop isn't going to help them work those motors.

Meg - posted on 04/06/2009

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We've seen a big improvement with just a steady reminder to reposition his paper!  I also think he's got more self-confidence because of the evaluation; he has the test results -right there- that show how smart he is, so he's not going to get stuck on writing this one little word. Thanks again for all the help.

Ellen - posted on 04/02/2009

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As a Sped teacher I would agree to the use of a typing device until he learns to better control the bottle neck. OT service would be great too. You might find some great stuff to try on line if it's too expensive to hire outside support. He might be one to brain dump through graphic organizers and then go back later to do the actual writing. Sounds like you had great evaluators!

Meg - posted on 03/26/2009

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Thanks everyone. The school has given him a Kidsmart keyboard to use at his desk, which could well help. He loves playing violin, which has a fair amount of hand-eye stuff involved. I think the suggestion of fine-motor centered crafts is a good idea.

Sonja - posted on 03/26/2009

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It might be worth having an eval with a private OT as they have broader evaluation parameters. Our son has some mild difficulties that did not qualify for OT with our insurance coverage either. We paid out of pocket for private OT which made a world of difference for our son this year. He used a writing program with the OT called handwriting without tears. You can actually purchase it online without an OT. It might be helpful to try.

Juliet - posted on 03/25/2009

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We are dealing with the same issues here-- Max is also left-handed, and his writing skills are not up to par with the rest of his skills. It's very frustrating knowing that he has the ability to comprehend much more advanced work, but does not have the motor skills to actually do the work.



We've been told to have him write every day this summer, and to do lots of crafty things that require cutting, lacing, tracing, etc... to help him overcome some of his difficulties. Good luck!

Robin - posted on 03/25/2009

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Having a similar (but far easier at this stage) problem with 4.5 year old.  Won't write because of the frustration.



I have no long term solution but if he can get a "writing" disability allowance from someone could they not allow him to use a Notepad or small laptop and let him type?  If not through a disability service, perhaps there is another source of funding.  Point out that few people could read Einstein either and it didn't hold him back!



Good luck with this and congratulations - I am trying to imagine just how that teacher felt.

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