Learning To Write

by Amber

My son was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder last March at the age of 4. Since we received a diagnosis his progress has been remarkable. He has started Kindergarten this year and in addition takes an hour and a half of resource, has speech twice a week and OT once a week. He is doing well, getting along with other children and loving school. He knows his colors, he can count, and identify letters. The teachers are discovering that he can answer almost any question when provided with one on one attention.

The problem is that he can't write. His fine motor skills are very behind and he doesn't seem to be progressing much. He has trouble dressing himself, with hygiene and self care. His writing and coloring looks like something of a 2-3 year old instead of a 5 year old. He can't write his name but if you show him flash cards of letters he can pick out the correct letters to spell his name. I have a meeting scheduled this month with the school to have his OT increased to twice a week. Can you recommend anything that I can do or recommend to his teachers that will help him? If not I am afraid that we might be looking at him repeating kindergarten due to fine motor skills.

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by: SPD

Awwww... poor little guy! Working so very hard, making such great accomplishments but still being held back by one skill. I have seen how heartbreaking this is for them to know the answer, be able to do a problem/task in every way but the one which counts... getting it down on paper.

But, I am encouraged. He is obviously in good hands with you as his advocate and mom! He has been evaluated, he has a diagnosis, he is being treated through therapy, you are communicating with the school, etc. That is fantastic... the progress you and he have made at such a young age. Keep up the great work.

Now, for the problem you are asking about... his writing and fine motor skills. Ah, this is a "solvable" problem. That's good news. It will require a lot of work on both your parts but it sounds like you are up for the challenge. And, from what I am aware of, there should be no reason he can be held back a grade due to poor fine motor skills. That really shouldn't happen.

What SHOULD happen instead is, like you said, an increase in therapy to help him gain these skills. An increase in things you work on with him at home every day to develop these skills. An increase in awareness by the teacher to help him accomplish these fine motor tasks in other compensatory and accommodating ways until his fine motor skills catch up with him. To be sure I am correct that he can not be held back a year in school due to fine motor delays only, you may want to visit www.wrightslaw.com. They are the leading authority on special education, advocacy, IEP's, 504's, school accommodations, etc. See if you can find out more there. If there is anyone else reading this that knows different than what I said, please speak up!

Anyway, improving fine motor skills takes practice, practice, practice and some good OT! It sounds like you are getting the OT part taken care of. So... what can YOU do? To make his progress faster and better?

You will find ideas at the following links:

Fine Motor Skills Activities For Children

Pre-Writing Activities For Children

Scissor Skills And Fine Motor Products

Fine Motor Development Chart (work on skills in this order)

The Handwriting Without Tears Program

Developing fine motor skills can definitely be fun! Pick every game you can think of off the shelf that gets those fingers working. And work on handwriting programs and typing programs too! Just keep doing more and more, as much as his little fingers will tolerate. Be creative. Read the articles I suggested for some more ideas and games to use.

This should be a good start. I do hope he will get his OT increased to twice a week. Sounds like he needs it. Let us know what they decide. And, what you find out at Wrightslaw.com. I don't want to see him held back over that. This would be a shame!

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