Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Features of Written Output Disorder

At last here are a list of some of the features or indicators of Written Output Disorder. A big thank you to Sarah Howard, the assessment manager, of The Eaton Learning Centre, who graciously provided this helpful information. I know this information will be valuable to parents worried about their children and considering educational testing. I will create a permanent link to it in the links section, so it will be easily available.

1)Resistance to writing tasks that goes above and beyond the “norm” for that child – this can include a refusal to show math work.

2)Anxiety around writing tasks or opposition

3)Poorly formed printing, difficulty learning to write cursively

4)Forgetting to use capitals and punctuation correctly despite knowing the “rules”

5)Writing all the way up to the edge of a page – seeming not to understand the physical limitations of the page space

6)Very large letters or very small letters or what looks like trying to drive the pencil right through the page – all symptoms of “finger agnosia” where the student cannot get enough feedback from their fingers about the pencil and so they grip tighter and tighter, losing control

7)Aversion towards artwork – not all students are like this – or a hatred of colouring tasks

8)Notable difference between a child’s verbal skills/oral expression and their written work – an example of this would be a student who could tell you everything you wanted to know about the atom but when asked to make a poster outlining the parts of an atom, might write the following: Neutron = part of an atom, Proton = part of an atom, Electron = part of an atom.

In testing, we look primarily at visual processing speed, visual motor integration, and fine motor coordination but working memory and expressive language difficulties as well as problems with attention can also wreck havoc on a child’s ability to write.

Study: Learning disorders might be genetic

Here is the link to the journal where you can read the article discussed in this article below:

LONDON, March 14 (UPI) -- A British researcher suggests a wide variety of learning disabilities might be caused by "generalist" genes.

"Old studies tend to focus on finding the genes responsible for single disorders," said review author Robert Plomin, "but with the new analysis techniques available, new studies are providing evidence that genes can be responsible for a wide range of learning disorders."

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Recommended Reading: Not Even Wrong by Paul Collins

I believe in reading widely on the topic of different learning styles and one of the advantages of this approach is occasionally you alight of a treat on a book like Paul Collins: Not Even Wrong: A father's journey into the long history of autism. (published by Bloomsbury USA in 2005). While I am not personally dealing with autism, there are always parallels in these kinds of journeys, (also it's a very wide spectrum, I would guess most artists fall somewhere along it) so I read voraciously on the topic regardless. Not Even Wrong takes the form of a hybrid of memoir and history. Collins depicts his own experience as his young son Morgan is diagnosed autistic, while he concurrently researches this book, which at times feels pleasingly like a travelogue because he crosses back and forth to England and Europe to complete his research. It's to Collins credit that his writing style is so engaging, he possesses this handy knack of putting these precise, additional details that absolutely put the reader where-ever he's describing. So whether it's the school, doctor's office, the house of eminent autism expert Dr Simon Baron-Cohen or the graveyard, where he's trying to locate the grave of a historic feral child The Wild Boy, it's all very immediate.

This is the kind of book that reminded me of how important it is to remain flexible with whatever life hurls your way. It's a very uplifting book and many parents will take courage from his experience. There are also important historical perspectives and experiences of autistics in the book reminding us that autism has a long history, perhaps one that has yet to documented extensively. A brave and intelligent book -- highly recommended.