|Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp
|Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp. All rights reserved.
|about the book
|The Homeschool Diner's Guide to
Homeschooling by Subject
Handwriting Challenges in Home-Schooled Kids
with Asperger’s Syndrome –
How to Turn Frustration into Success!
Copyright 2008, by Sue Ramin-Hutchison, Certified Teacher Consultant
for Physically Impaired Students and by Merri Domer, Special Needs
Technology Consultant, owners of Handwriting Problem Solutions, LLC
< www.handwriting-solutions.com >
Does your child with Asperger’s Syndrome have difficulty completing their
written schoolwork with paper and pencil? Do they have difficulty with
some or all of the following: size and shape of letter formation, staying
within the lines, proper spacing between words, letter/number reversals,
spelling, copying from a board or desk copy, writing speed and/or
legibility? If so – you are not alone!
Many kids with Asperger’s Syndrome experience difficulty completing
their written schoolwork with paper and pencil due to motor or sensory-
motor issues. Since 1944, when Hans Asperger first described the
syndrome that was later to bear his name, it has been evident that these
types of kids often times have overall “motor clumsiness,” including fine-
motor problems that can make handwriting difficult or impossible.
Some professionals feel that computers should be introduced to these
kids at an early age while some feel that handwriting should be continued
to be worked on to determine if it can be improved enough over time to
become a useful “tool” to complete written schoolwork.
In our experience working with kids with Asperger’s who have handwriting
challenges, we recommend that the following things be tried:
Have the child evaluated by a pediatric Occupational Therapist
(OT) to determine whether or not therapy can help improve the child’s
handwriting skills. The OT may also recommend some “Low-Tech”
handwriting solutions to try such as pencil grippers, the use of specialty
writing papers such as slantboards, papers that have colored writing
spaces and/or raised lines, dictation to an adult and then being able to
re-copy their work later if this is possible, use of a tape recorder to
complete assignments orally and the use of graph paper to line up math
problems. A good source for finding a wide variety of “Low-Tech”
handwriting solutions is therapyshoppe.com.
Consider Low-Tech and High Tech solutions. Many times,
handwriting can be improved somewhat through therapy and the use of
“Low-Tech” solutions – but most often, “High-Tech” solutions will
eventually also need to be taught so that these bright kids will be able to
“tell” us everything they know, especially as writing demands increase as
they move through school. A good OT should also be able to tell you
when this is necessary. “High-Tech” solutions involve the use of items
such as word processors, computers and other special equipment and
software to complete written schoolwork.
Some kids with Asperger’s have such difficulty with handwriting from the
“get-go” that they need to use “High-Tech” solutions as early as 1st
grade to complete written work. In other cases where a child is able to
produce some legible writing, once an “Aspie” child reaches mid-third
grade and is still unable to use their handwriting to tell you everything
they know with paper and pencil – it is our belief that it is time to
introduce “High-Tech” solutions.
Handwriting can continue to be worked on – but it should no longer
be the major emphasis to complete written schoolwork. Technological
solutions should be the priority at this time for the completion of written
schoolwork. If a child is able to do some writing, it should be structured
as to when the child will write and when they will use technology. Since
these kids already have fine motor problems, we recommend that they be
taught an adapted method of keyboarding which minimizes the number of
fingers used to type. This is MUCH less frustrating for Aspie kids and
helps them to learn to type much faster with confidence!
Strive for independence. In working with kids with Asperger’s
Syndrome who exhibit writing challenges, it is our belief that these
students should be taught ways to complete their written schoolwork that
will allow them to be as independent as possible. While dictation and
scribing are good temporary solutions, they do not foster a child’s
independence over the long run. Many times, once successful
“handwriting solutions” are put into place, the frustration that these kids
often experience around writing tasks begins to disappear. Many of our
Asperger’s students who previously required a scribe to write for them
and handle their behavioral “meltdowns” when they are asked to write
are now functioning very independently in the school setting using
laptops and special software to complete their written schoolwork. They
no longer need para-pro assistance! It is truly amazing what appropriate
handwriting solutions can do for Aspie kids!
The good news about “High-Tech” solutions is that virtually all
schoolwork, even advanced math and science, can now be completed
without the use of paper and pencil using special equipment and
software! Many Aspie kids who previously had “nuclear meltdowns”
surrounding writing tasks often no longer have these problems! They
become happier and more confident in the new-found ability to complete
finished written products similar to those of their peers!
We have worked with many Aspie kids over the years that have become
awesome computer users and complete all their written schoolwork
without the use of paper and pencil! Many colleges now require that
incoming freshmen have their own laptops – so these kids are already
“one step up” on the other students!
We welcome you to email us for more information, anytime, regarding
handwriting solutions for kids with Asperger’s Syndrome at
Sue Ramin-Hutchison and Merri Domer are Special Educators currently
consulting and teaching in multiple Michigan school districts. They have
specialized for over 10 years in the instruction and classroom
implementation of “Low-Tech” and “High-Tech” handwriting solutions for
kids with a wide variety of writing disabilities, including Asperger’s
Syndrome, High-Functioning Autism and PDD/NOS.
They founded Handwriting Problem Solutions, LLC in 2005 in order to
share their unique knowledge base with parents and professionals
working with kids with handwriting disabilities across the US. Their goal
is always to provide the latest information available that will help kids with
handwriting challenges learn how to complete finished written products
similar to those of their peers.
Sue and Merri have written a resource guide especially designed for
parents of both publicly schooled and home-schooled children entitled
“Handwriting Solutions – Equipment, Teaching Strategies and
Educational Resource Recommendations for Kids with Writing
Disabilities” – which is available for purchase on their website. This
guide includes all of the “Low-Tech” and “High-Tech” solutions they use
in their successful Michigan program – and much more – all in one easy-
Nationwide consultation services are also available. They welcome
you to visit their website at www.handwriting-solutions.com for more
information about their resource guide and consultation services. Please
do not hesitate to call or email them with any questions you may have.