Thursday, December 14, 2006

Burst of graphia!

I don't know if it was the multi sensory typing lessons or the arrival of the NEO, but strangely and suddenly my child has declared he loves writing (as in the pencil and paper method). I think perhaps knowing he has accessible alternatives at his elbow has slightly lessened his anxiety or liberated him from perceiving "writing" to be a big barrier.

His ideas still come faster than his hand can output, but the last few days he no longer exhibits the previous resistance and physical discomfort. We have ploughed through so many types of pencils, and he has found mechanical pencils work for him at present because it's easier for him to write 'neater'.

I think learning to type (keyboard) has been a huge boon. It was a very satisfying experience that he succeeded easily at and he emerged each week from the one on one typing class with quite the glow to him. I think the teacher is great. She's young and has a great rapport with him. She is also actively interested in children with learning differences and flexible, which really makes a difference. The idea of learning to type one on one makes more sense for children who feel self conscious often in a group setting or who may be prone to sensory overload when there's a whole group of children learning. When it's one on one it's easier to concentrate. Tonight when my child emerged able now to type all the letters of the alphabet and capitals and punctuation including things I cannot even type like "quotation marks" I realized it's well worth the money we invested.

I would recommend getting your child started with the basics on that BBC typing tutor I have a link to on the right. If they can get the home row keys down, they'll get more progress in the class. If however your child doesn't respond well to that online tutor don't push it. Just find a typing class, preferably one to one if you can, preferably multi sensory. You'll be able to find these courses through your local LD advocacy group or through places/organisations that do psycho educational assessments.

I think the typing has boosted his confidence and I think he's discovered he can tell stories and so now when he sees words appearing on the page he's inspired (and we are very flexible about what appears, I don't try to fix anything at this stage. I want him to feel he can write -- nothing beyond that at this point)

To see this progress is immensely hopeful. I do accept as well, that it may change again and we will continue building the additional skills of typing, we will also embrace the keyboard more and more.


Anonymous said...

I found your son's experience with typing then writing (with pencil) very encouraging. I am noting in my own daughter that she has very good ideas but finds them difficult to express. I have been also noted that when I listen to her, I find her extremely perceptive, she remembers everything but it looks like she needs more fluidity between in and out. I think your suggestion of typing is great. I am interseted in how you veiw childhood anxeity I know my daughter has a tremendous anxeity about our family being the same as others. Do you think pursuing alternatives gives your son the confidence to progress? Is this like accepting a difference?

pumps said...

Thank you for posting these interesting comments and questions.

I think it's critical for children who struggle with written output to feel capable and to have tangible experiences of being capable and making progress. Parents can play a helpful role in facilitating this experience. The present school system in my experience puts a heavy emphasis on output and this can lead to early feelinga of "defeat."
I do think pursuing alternatives has given my son confidence. The typing class was one-on-one and this again was very helpful. Nobody else to compare yourself against: unlike the classroom where you at sat beside four other children who write twice as fast and therefore can output three times as much.
He now has a skill that few other children his age have, so at the back of his mind there rests that alternative and he has proven his capability to himself.
You might be very surprised to see how much more natural typing is for some children.
You may wish, if you have not already explored it, to pursue psycho-educational testing for your child because there could be specific things that are impeding your daughter that this testing can highlight and you can then address. It is expensive, but it's a good investment. It was through such testing that typing was suggested to me.
Brainstorming can also help. There is software called Inspiration, which is very useful for this.
Another thing to try is orally recording stories and ideas or essays, several times and then transcribing them when she finds a version she is happy with.
There's also Dragon Voice activated software so your daughter could dictate directly into a word document.
Another thing you may find useful is to really pay attention to the things that do interest her and facilitate her to explore and succeed as much as you can in any of those areas. That could be anything from playing the trumpet to making teddy bears to looking at birds because when you are passionately interested in something you're more motivated. I have found it useful to see traditional education as part of a much bigger canvas.
I need to ruminate and research further on your question about anxiety because it's a very interesting one.
Hope this helps.