Does your child struggle with printing? What do you do if you have a gifted child who can mentally work significantly above grade level, but struggles with penmanship? How do you adapt your home learning materials to meet each individual child’s needs?
My oldest son was diagnosed with ADHD and then Autism during his kindergarten year. Printing is an issue that we have been struggling with for the past five years. He is a bright kid, but he would run screaming from the room if you asked him to print. Something had to be done. I had to find a way to enable him to continue learning without it being stressful, while still moving forward with his penmanship.
Due to my son’s autism, his muscles fatigue easily. We were told by an orthopedic specialist that this is very common in children with autism. He had a very hard time sitting up when he was a baby. He didn’t actually sit on his own until after he started walking at around nine months of age. He is the type of kid that needs to lean on something to prop himself up. All of this to say, his muscle fatigue from printing is a very real thing. When he says that printing tires him out, he really means it.
I have spent the past few years making a variety of adaptations for him. Some of them have worked and some of them haven’t.
This past year was spent focusing on strengthening his fine motor skills and requiring only a minimal amount of printing (specifically during penmanship time). This approach was time consuming because it required me or someone else to scribe all of his work for him, but I would have to say that it was the most effective method given our circumstances. By the end of the year, he was taking the pencil from my hand and telling me that he wanted to print his own work.
While I do realize that this approach may not be possible or desirable for every homeschooling family, I think it is important to find something that works and run with it.
We have used many different activities to work on his fine motor skills. Some of these activities include playing with K’nex, Lego, or small building toys. He has also used tongs, to practice his pencil grip, by eating tiny snacks like Fruit Loops. We have enjoyed play dough and plasticine for strengthening his muscles.
To get creative ideas for working with your own child’s fine motor issues, have a look at these websites and the materials that they offer. I have set the links directly to the fine motor sections.
- Achievement Products
- Therapy Shoppe
Do any of your children struggle with printing? What strategies have you used in your home learning to help them?
When Honey is not eating gummy bears with tongs she can be found writing about her homeschooling adventures on her blog, Sunflower Schoolhouse.
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Fabulous post, Honey! I have a child with Autism as well, so I found myself shaking my head up and down all through reading it. Love your ideas!
For a state history class in co-op that my son was taking, they were supposed to write a paper or make a poster for the end of the school year. I was none too excited. Then, I decided to have him write a paper, but that I would just be a scribe for him and type everything he told me. If he had done it on his own, I know it would have been just a couple of sentences. But, with me typing it, his paper was one whole page typed.
Thank you for the link to the Southpaw site. I think my daughter is going to be left-handed, and I have been at a loss as to how to show her how to do anything.
My son is not a big fan of handwriting, but I think that might just be fairly typical boy-ness. I love that All About Spelling lets us learn and do spelling work without being handwriting intensive.
I have a 9yo dd son who can’t make words go from brain to paper, but he can dictate pages of text. Either I will scribe for him on paper or keyboard. There is another thing, which we haven’t tried out yet, but did you know that the Microsoft Office suite of programs has speech-to-text? I recently found out about that. We need to check it out. That would save me a lot of time too. Slowly he is learning how to type, and that will also help later on. We work on handwriting day by day, ten minutes at a time because it’s all he can handle.
Kate Gladstone says
I noted your article “When Printing is Hard.”
As a handwriting instruction/remediation specialist, I thought you and your son might be interested to know about the handwriting program and resources designed by an adult on the autism spectrum (I’m the adult).
If this interests you, and if you would like to cover some of this material on your blog, visit my web-site http://www.HandwritingThatWorks.com — I’d like to know what you think! (If you e-mail me, please put the words “from The Homeschool Classroom” somewhere in the message or in the subject-line, to make sure that I see that message immediately.)
Director, the World Handwriting Contest
Founder, Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works
Co-Designer, BETTER LETTERS handwriting instruction/practice application for the iPhone, iPodTouch, and iPad.
Lynnet Hardwick says
I tutor a boy that has Aspergers and printing was just a nightmare. Because the way he processes things, he struggled and I had a hard time reading anything he had written. His OT therapist started him on Handwriting Without Tears and it was a blessing for both of us. He’s still learning about letter formation, but his handwriting has improved so greatly. We work on formation because he loves to “do it his way”. Years of bad habits and lack of direction have made this an everyday struggle, I’ve been so encouraged by the results.