I have spent much time at the library and browsing the internet to find information on dysgraphia. I had never even heard the word before I met with a reading specialist. But, I believe Farm Kid1 has some form of it. I have no idea where to put him on a scale from 1 – 10, but he has many of the symptoms. I can read his handwriting, but it is sloppy & he struggles a lot with it. This may explain why he did so terribly on the reversal’s test at vision therapy. Dysgraphia is a neurological disorder and a learning disability. The definition from dyslexia A2Z states:
Dysgraphia means having severe problems with the written word, which is affected by extreme difficulty with fine-motor skills – in spite of having normal intelligence and ability.
I am unsure how severe Farm Kid1’s problem is. It seems minor to me, but it definitely is a bit of a problem. It explains why when I ask him about a journal topic he can ramble on and on and on, but when it comes to actually writing it down he only writes a couple sentences… and it takes him a long while to write those few sentences.
This is a list of symptoms from Eberly College of Arts & Sciences. The ones in red are the ones Farm Kid1 has.
• 1. Students may exhibit strong verbal but particularly poor writing skills .
• 2. Random (or non-existent) punctuation. Spelling errors (sometimes same word spelled differently); reversals; phonic approximations; syllable omissions; errors in common suffixes. Clumsiness and disordering of syntax; an impression of illiteracy. Misinterpretation of questions and questionnaire items. Disordered numbering and written number reversals.
• 3. Generally illegible writing (despite appropriate time and attention given the task).
• 4. Inconsistencies: mixtures of print and cursive, upper and lower case, or irregular sizes, shapes, or slant of letters.
• 5. Unfinished words or letters, omitted words.
• 6. Inconsistent position on page with respect to lines and margins and inconsistent spaces between words and letters.
• 7. Cramped or unusual grip, especially holding the writing instrument very close to the paper, or holding thumb over two fingers and writing from the wrist.
• 8. Talking to self while writing, or carefully watching the hand that is writing.
• 9. Slow or labored copying or writing – even if it is neat and legible.
At this point I’m not going to take him to a specialist to check more into this. We are already going to vision therapy once a week and do daily exercises for that. I don’t want to add something else to our days. But, I actually think a few of the vision exercises may help him with this too. I also stumbled across Dianne Craft’s web site & she has a ton of great information. I’m going to have him quit doing most of the copy work he’s been doing and instead do the writing eight exercises Dianne Craft mentions. I have a feeling this is going to get quite tedious for him, but it says to stay at it for at least 6 months and you will see great results in their writing ability. I have to let him try it. I’m also going to use Dianne’s method for learning spelling words.
I’ve also been doing a little research on ADHD. At this point, this is the least of my worries, but I’ve realized he may have some form of this, too. I feel many of the inattention & hyperactivity symptoms describe him, but not the impulsive symptoms. I’ve read that many kids are misdiagnosed with ADHD, when they really have vision problems. So, I’d rather focus on fixing the vision issues and see if these symptoms improve. But then, I’ve also read that many kids with ADHD also have dysgraphia. So, maybe he does really have it. His reading teacher this summer did mention he was kind of wiggly and had a hard time focusing. Before he started kindergarten, I remember a friend of mine, who taught kindergarten, say to me to not be surprised if his teacher says he has ADD. She told me, though, that she didn’t think he had it… or maybe she just didn’t want to tell me the truth. His vision doctor has asked me a couple times if he always has this much energy… and the answer, is yes.
I can’t express how weird this is for me. Last year at this time I had no idea that he had any issues, except that he reads too slow. I wasn’t overly concerned since the school put him in Read Naturally, which was supposed to help kids like him. I thought he would improve & that’s that. By March, I was beginning to think something else was wrong or if not wrong, just not something the school was fixing – which is when I began investigating homeschooling.
And now here I am with the realization that he’s got far bigger issues than just reading slowly. Whether it’s right or not, I have to admit I’m a little irritated at the school. Aren’t they supposed to be watching out for my kid? Aren’t they supposed to catch any issues he’s having? They never mentioned any of these things. They just said he reads slow, so lets send him to the typical class for that problem. Then when it didn’t work, everyone just told me to have him read more. Are you kidding me? Couldn’t they see there was more to it than that? I did, which is why I’m 99% sure I will continue to home school him next year. I can’t put my trust in a system that didn’t help him or see any of these issues. I don’t care if they are not typical problems. The fact is, they couldn’t help him – so he’s not going back. And, even if they could tell me he had these issues, they aren’t things he can work on in public school. So, then he’d have to struggle all day in school and after that work on all these exercises that actually help him. Meanwhile, I fear he would lose self confidence. At home, he knows he’s working on things to help him get better, but he doesn’t feel bad watching his peers perform better than him. My complaints are about the school system in general. I really love Farm Kid2’s kinder teacher. She’s the same one Farm Kid1 had & I think she did a fantastic job teaching him. I think he may have been worse off, if it wasn’t for her teaching him to read in a way that worked for him.
The struggles of parenting are real. Too real.