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Hi everyone and thanks for visiting our blog. My wife and I created this blog to chronicle our experience while raising a son with Asperger's syndrome. Since our son was diagnosed with an ASD at age 5, we've had a lot of questions. Lucky for us we have a great support network in place. And our blog gives us an opportunity to share what we've learned with our readers. We hope you find our blog informative and interesting. Thanks again for visiting.


"It seems that for success in science and art, a dash of autism is essential." Dr Hans Asperger 1906-1980



Friday, 3 February 2012

HANDWRITING WITH ASPERGERS

Jacob made it through another week of school.  This week had the makings and potential to be a difficult week.  (Emergency school closure Monday and 2 tests Friday)  But, we are very happy that Jacob received 2 stickers for today.  This is special because Jacob did well on his spelling test this Morning and he did well on his geography test this afternoon.  This brings his weekly reward sticker total to:
   5 OUT OF 8 STICKERS

The one thing that I thought I'd share with everyone is that when Jacob has a spelling test, he doesn't actually have to hand write it.  Jacob's allowed to do his spelling test on the classroom computer.  Our son's school uses this technique to help encourage Jacob to do his weekly spelling test.  In the past when Jacob's been asked to print his test instead of typing it, he's just refused the test all together.  For a time it was hard to determine if Jacob could spell at all.  But when he became able to do his spelling tests on the computer(without spell check) we learned that he could spell quite well.  Next year however, Jacob will be in grade 3.  And that's when students start to learn cursive writing.  I don't know how Jacob will respond.

I've read and heard numerous stories about the difficulties that autistic/Aspie kids have when it comes to hand writing.  And Jacob is no exception.  He has many issues when it comes to printing, and we do make him practise his printing frequently.  We and the school feel that the extra stress of hand writing the test will negatively impact Jacob's ability to demonstrate proper spelling.  But what about cursive writing?  The big question is, does my son need to learn cursive writing?

Now I know that printing is very important and Jacob still needs to improve in that area, but does he really need to learn cursive writing?  My writing is barely legible, but my printing is much better.  Should my son be forced to learn something that isn't that relevant?  As we all know this is the computer age and I can't remember the last time I wrote something in cursive.  More and more schools seem to be adopting this approach.  There are lots of debates on various websites about this very topic.  Many people and parents feel that more emphasis should be put on printing and less on cursive.  Some places have even eliminated cursive writing all together.

It's also evident that the younger generation has adapted to using computers.  Jacob can do more things on the computer than we can.  I remember when I was in grade 4, my school had the first dedicated computer room in the city.  And this was a big deal.  The local paper even did an article on it.  Now every classroom has at least one computer and most households have a computer that a child can access.  It's no wonder that less and less schools are focusing on cursive writing.

We're not saying that cursive writing should be eliminated, but it should more limited.  Maybe they could have an elective course in high school for those that are interested in it.  That way, it would be less of a focus early on.  We're just glad that Jacob's school accommodates him as much as they do.  We couldn't imagine how many meltdowns Jacob would have if he was forced to write cursively.  He certainly wouldn't be getting as many stickers.

I found an interesting article about cursive hand writing and how it relates to those with autism/Asperger's.  It can be found at http://myaspergerschild.com/ We hope you enjoy it.

5 comments:

  1. He should, at least, be able to sign his name. As far as I know High Schools and Colleges do not require cursive for assignments or projects. I have forgotten how to cursive write most letters myself. If I remember correctly, learning cursive stopped in grade 5 for me and afterwards the teachers did not force it.

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  2. Writing will be the death of me. K hates it. Her penmanship is OK, but her hand gets tired very easily and begins to ache, and then that is just a huge trigger for a meltdown. When she broke her arm earlier this year, they let her use the classroom computer. Her behavior got a lot better at school, not having to write, but then when that cast came off---back to the pencil. It confounds me. She *knows* how to write, so that isn't an issue, or something she needs to learn, so imo she should just be allowed to use the computer instead. But no...that would apparently be too easy. I do write for her sometimes, at home, and the class aide will write for her, too, if she gets really upset, but I would still prefer she use the computer. I mean, what kid isn't going to need computer skills? How often do WE even write, paper and pen? And cursive? Please. All cursive did was turn me into someone who now has a hybrid printing/cursive style when I do write...ha! It's pointless.

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    1. I guess we're lucky that Jacob's school id willing to try anything. And your right, honestly I can't remember the last time I wrote something in cursive. It's just not needed beyond learning a signature. As long as kids like K and Jacob are able to write, then why push them into a meltdown?

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  3. Handwriting matters ... But does cursive matter?
    Research shows: the fastest and most legible handwriters avoid cursive. They join only some letters, not all of them: making the easiest joins, skipping the rest, and using print-like shapes for those letters whose cursive and printed shapes disagree. (Citations appear below)
    When following the rules doesn’t work as well as breaking them, it’s time to re-write and upgrade the rules. The discontinuance of cursive offers a great opportunity to teach some better-functioning form of handwriting that is actually closer to what the fastest, clearest handwriters do anyway. (There are indeed textbooks and curricula teaching handwriting this way. Cursive and printing are not the only choices.)
    Reading cursive still matters — this takes just 30 to 60 minutes to learn, and can be taught to a five- or six-year-old if the child knows how to read. The value of reading cursive is therefore no justification for writing it.
    (In other words, we could simply teach kids to _read_ old-fashioned handwriting and save the year-and-a-half that are expected to be enough for teaching them to _write_ that way too ... not to mention the actually longer time it takes to teach someone to perform such writing _well_.)
    Remember, too: whatever your elementary school teacher may have been told by her elementary school teacher, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over signatures written in any other way. (Don't take my word for this: talk to any attorney.)


    CITATIONS:

    /1/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, and Naomi Weintraub.
    THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HANDWRITING STYLE AND SPEED AND LEGIBILITY.
    1998: on-line at http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/27542168.pdf

    and

    /2/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, Naomi Weintraub, and William Schafer.
    DEVELOPMENT OF HANDWRITING SPEED AND LEGIBILITY IN GRADES 1-9.
    1998: on-line at http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/27542188.pdf

    (NOTE: there are actually handwriting programs that teach this way.
    Shouldn't there be more of them?)

    Yours for better letters,


    Kate Gladstone —
    the handwriting consultant who is an Aspie
    Handwriting Repair/ Handwriting That Works
    and the World Handwriting Contest
    http://www.HandwritingThatWorks.com

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  4. For what it's worth, I'm an Aspie who self-remediated her handwriting and rejected cursive along the way.

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