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aspiecat
04-26-2014, 12:13 PM
DS has been thinking about his future career options. He was looking towards a music degree, majoring in classical singing (he is very talented), but he wants to do something more practical, and is now looking at law. He's been humming and hawing for a while about law, and has pretty much decided he'd like to do that. Which is fine. He turns 15 tomorrow and has a good year or so before he really has to look at study paths for his tertiary education, so I'm prepared for him to drift back towards singing, or something else.

Thing is, one has to be rather good at creative writing when aiming at a career in law. Aside from a professional writer, there is nothing more verbose than a lawyer - they kinda have to be that way to confuse everyone - and a good skill in writing is required. Now, DS has the grammar side down pat, so that's not an issue, but when asked to write a page of something, he gives the bare minimum and usually stops after a paragraph or two. He simply states he cannot think of how to "flesh it out" in any way, and while I can look at his writing and come up with a plethora of ideas...he simply cannot.

Are there any creative writing courses that he could do come the upcoming school year that could help teach him HOW to write more creatively? He does want to, but he is typical of the type of Aspie who is more a fact-finding and fact-giving creature...once the basic information is there, he cannot see how else to build on that, no matter how many examples he is given.

I should add he does not read. He CAN, but does not read for pleasure. Only basic info for something he enjoys, and even stories about his hobbies (video games, swimming, science fiction and music) are of no interest to him. I have told him successful writers also read a lot, and that is one way to become a better writer, but he cringed when I told him this fact. Interestingly, he is very good at poetry, and always got 100% for his poems and his self-analysis, as well as his analysis of poems he studies. So it's clearly not a lack of creativity per se, or at least I don't think so.

Aspie

farrarwilliams
04-26-2014, 12:37 PM
I disagree that creative writing is the path to legal writing. They're very different. In fact, everyone who I ever knew who went to law school felt that legal writing was a thing in and of itself - a thing you specifically learn in law school and nowhere else.

Obviously to get up to law school and through it, you have to be able to write, but I really don't think you need to be able to write short stories or creative nonfiction or poetry. While I think all students should be exposed to writing those and have the opportunity to try them, I don't think they're a must in this world. They can be left to the artists and the people passionate about them or interested in them.

freerangedad
04-26-2014, 01:42 PM
Like Farrar, creative writing conjures up story telling. I believe he needs to practice expository writing. The ability to present a certain position by comparing and contrasting differing ideas will be very useful to him. There must be some good introductory books or web sites to outline the general practice. I would start with that and then have him practice, practice, practice. 15 is a great age to formulate and defend positions on some of the issues presenting themselves to our society.

Should the use of stem cells be legal?
Bioengineering?
How valid was the Citizens United ruling?
Should we begin building nuclear power plants in an age of global warming?
etc. etc.

Or you could combine it with his interests.
Who made the most significant musical contributions of a certain era?
What was one of the most significant turning points in history?
etc. etc.

We are still at, "Who was your favorite character in the movie and why?".

aspiecat
04-26-2014, 01:55 PM
Farrar - I guess it's more a case of getting him to not panic every time he has to write something more than a couple of sentences. And while you're correct that the ability to do well in creative writing is not the path to studying law, it's more a case of getting him ready for the inordinate amount of writing that will be expected of him at college. If he was heading for a degree in an area of STEM, there would be far less writing expected from many subjects than in an Arts degree, simply because the majority of technological subjects do not necessarily depend upon verbosity. I did a electronics diploma before my BA, and there was a huge difference in the output of work required between these courses.

Either way, the ability to do well at college depends on being able to deliver what is required of you, and the prospect of doing more than a page of writing already has him anxious - never mind the fact there will be copious 5,000+ word essays to do. He has never been able to write stories - unless regurgitating something he's read himself (that was how he did story-writing as a wee one - simply rewrote a story he already knew).

As for short-story writing - well, when it comes to report writing, it's the same process to an extent - research, thought, mixing what you find with what you dream up. And he also cannot write reports past a couple of sentences. I use short-story writing as my main example as report writing makes him panic even more, with the huge amount of information on the Internet. The idea of researching scares him silly.

dbmamaz
04-26-2014, 02:24 PM
I used Help for High School with my son, spread out over 2 years actually, and it was fantastic - this is a product from Bravewriter which is written to the teen, but I needed to break it down to daily assignments for him as he's not self-directed at all. It has great exercises for finding your voice, and the second half is more about essays. I think you could go through the entire program every year for 3 years and continue to grow from it.

I dont know much about IEW, but some people say its very helpful for teaching reluctant writers to add extras, because it teaches them in a formal, rigid way. I have no idea how you would start that at the high school level.

dbmamaz
04-26-2014, 02:26 PM
And fwiw, I dont think you are really looking for help with 'creative writing' which usually means creating your own story, you are looking for help with a more rich or mature writing style for a reluctant writer.

aspiecat
04-26-2014, 03:09 PM
Thanks to everyone for the advice.

Dad - The expository writing idea is one I have considered, although I have tried that route before and again, he panicked and there were tears... *sigh*. However, I might talk with him about him choosing a subject that interests him, and we can research together until he feels comfortable enough to put finger to keyboard.

I'll look at Bravewriter's Help for High School again, and IEW looks interesting too. It might be an idea to invest in something that is designed specifically for teens who have problems in writing, so thanks for the suggestions, Cara.

freerangedad
04-26-2014, 04:08 PM
Thanks to everyone for the advice.

Dad - The expository writing idea is one I have considered, although I have tried that route before and again, he panicked and there were tears... *sigh*. However, I might talk with him about him choosing a subject that interests him, and we can research together until he feels comfortable enough to put finger to keyboard.
.

You might consider taking it a step further and actually write the first few with him. Lead him through the process. As you do the research, help him learn to put the information into categories that, later, will become paragraphs. You have probably already done this, but it sounds like he needs more of it. I also believe that very detailed outlines are important to young writers. DD and my final writings are not much different than our outlines. The outline breaks the ideas into manageable pieces. Instead of brainstorming the entire argument, your son will be able to brainstorm about one specific part of the argument. Many kids, when given an assignment, will be hard pressed to write more than a paragraph. Ironically, each sentence in the paragraph would make a very good topic sentence for a paragraph.

If he is writing a paper in which he is taking a position, be sure to play the devils advocate.

It's only when you get in a car with a brand new driver that you realize the countless things that we monitor subconsciously when we drive. I think the same can be said about writing. I believe we will all be better teachers if we can monitor some of the thought processes that we take for granted as we write and convey those thoughts to our students.

aspiecat
04-26-2014, 05:27 PM
And fwiw, I dont think you are really looking for help with 'creative writing' which usually means creating your own story, you are looking for help with a more rich or mature writing style for a reluctant writer.

Yeah...looking back at my OP, it is rather misleading, innit? LOL But absolutely, it is help with, as you say, a more rich/mature writing style for a reluctant writer.

aspiecat
04-26-2014, 05:44 PM
Thanks again for the suggestions. I will for now continue with his History of the English Language study - which he is enjoying - and during summer break, which we're going to continue working through, I will look at what our options are for writing.

I just hate to see him in such a state when it comes to writing. With the SPD he has - an added bonus to his Asperger's - it's going to be a hard road, but I think with a more careful, considered approach and a good program in place, we should get things going with his writing.

farrarwilliams
04-26-2014, 07:39 PM
You know, I think freewriting BW style and then picking some to revise, again, the way Julie Bogart talks about that, is really the thing to do. She talked about how kids who have done a ton of freewriting are very up intimidated by timed writing tests and are able to churn out a lot - which is part of what you want to improve. Also, the focus in the revision piece is on improving voice and getting better at your own writing, which, again, is exactly what I think you want.

aspiecat
04-28-2014, 10:54 AM
Yeah...that's kind of what I want. Ironically, having taught writing and English language classes at university for some time to OTHER people's kids (although those kids were, admittedly, in their 20s and heading for their Masters and Doctorates), I am at such a loss as to how to effectively help my own child.

I hope I'm not the only one with this dilemma!

GThomas
05-17-2014, 10:15 AM
I have no opinion on whether he needs creative writing or not but if you are looking for a program we are just finishing up Cover Story and we absolutely loved it. The high school versions are The One Year Adventure Novel and Other Worlds.

For the high school versions you are lead through creating a novel from beginning to end in the course of 1 school year. (Cover Story is about creating a magazine). For Cover Story the teaching is done via video lectures. The teacher is entertaining and dresses up).

I'm not a writer so I cannot give you an opinion about this from a professional POV. But my daughter was throughly engaged in the program, independent in her work and her creative writing abilities grew in leaps and bounds this year.

Good luck!

dbmamaz
05-17-2014, 11:12 AM
Is cover story secular?

aspiecat
05-17-2014, 11:29 AM
The One Year Adventure Novel program is biblically-based, I do know that...

dbmamaz
05-17-2014, 12:11 PM
yeah, i realized I was confusing the two . . .at first I wrote "I'm pretty sure its not" and then i realized i might have confused the two lol

momto2js
05-17-2014, 03:08 PM
I actually went to law school. The more important thing about legal writing or any technical writing, is the ability to follow a formula. For example the assignment says: in the first paragraph present the issue, if the next two paragraphs describe the question, in the next two present the applicable case law, in the last paragraph present the conclusion or the answer to the question. Do this in no more than 500 words.

The ability to read an assignment and produce what is being asked with no more and no less, takes time to develop and is a very valuable skill for college and beyond regardless of major area of study.

aspiecat
05-17-2014, 03:37 PM
I actually went to law school. The more important thing about legal writing or any technical writing, is the ability to follow a formula. For example the assignment says: in the first paragraph present the issue, if the next two paragraphs describe the question, in the next two present the applicable case law, in the last paragraph present the conclusion or the answer to the question. Do this in no more than 500 words.

The ability to read an assignment and produce what is being asked with no more and no less, takes time to develop and is a very valuable skill for college and beyond regardless of major area of study.

I am currently designing a program to help DS with this skill, momtojs, so thanks for that advice!

GThomas
05-18-2014, 06:01 AM
I think the teacher has a Christian worldview but there was nothing that we noticed in the teachings that was problematic.

aspiecat
05-18-2014, 09:18 AM
I think the teacher has a Christian worldview but there was nothing that we noticed in the teachings that was problematic.

Maybe it's okay for secular learners, however one of their major pulls is the Bible:

2440

I wouldn't want to take the chance...DS and I simply get too irritated by a Biblical view in education, so we'd not use this. We'd spend too much of our time facepalming LOL.

popsicle1010
05-21-2014, 02:10 AM
I just wanted to chime in and add that I also do not think creative writing is a required or necessarily helpful skill for law school. However, other kinds of writing would be - expository, research, analytical. In my opinion asking him to continue creative writing when it unsettles him and isn't required for his [present] intended field of study might cause more trouble than it will help. It's common with younger kids that asking them to write something creative can be very challenging - not necessarily the writing part per se but the generating an idea and fleshing it out part. I would imagine this would be an ongoing challenge for some Aspies. ?

If I were in your position, I would probably drop the creative writing altogether and seek out a program to help him learn how to express his findings and point of view in writing (research and analytical/expository writing). The other skill that is really helpful in law school is analytical reasoning. Logic studies would be a great idea for him.

Good luck!

aspiecat
05-21-2014, 02:42 PM
Further to DS's issue with creative writing - or, to be honest, writing at all - is an experience he and I had this morning. His father has agreed to pay for a psychology camp that is not too far from here, and DS thinks he might enjoy it - yay! So today we set about with his application, which has several parts: his current GPA, a teacher's recommendation and an essay from him detailing why he'd like to attend the camp. The first two they are okay about letting us miss as he's homeschooled, but the essay of course is important, so that was to be his English lesson today. I didn't think it would be too much of an issue, but...well, it was.

He was clearly nervous about doing this, and I tried to make it easy by saying a simple five-paragraph essay (as revolting as they are LOL) with only two body paras would suffice, then we did a mindmap on the whiteboard. That took around 20 minutes with him saying mostly, "I don't know why I want to go, I just think it's a good idea" and unable to articulate why. We finally got the reasons down and categorised them, and I explained about putting down the key points and expanding on them to create the necessary sentences.

Half an hour later, he had the introduction done, with "My name is S.H. I am 15 years old. I moved from Australia eight months ago and live in the US now. I live in C., Kentucky. I am homeschooled and I don't like young children so want to attend this camp."

That took 30 frigging minutes. I wasn't angry with him, but sad that he is at such a low level of being able to articulate himself. I ended up sitting with him for the next hour until he had produced something more akin to an essay that perhaps a 7th-grader might pull together, rather than a 9th-grader. Still, it had to do.

He KNOWS the rules of writing, but simply cannot put them to any use whatsoever. He is very bright, that is clear to all who meet him, and he knows STUFF...but when it comes to imparting that information, either in written or verbal form, it's a HUGE struggle.

*sigh* not sure where to go from here, apart from maybe hiring a tutor, which is out of the question as we don't have the funds. In the meantime, I have to think how to help him. Otherwise he'll be lucky to have work at a fast-food outlet (I jest, but you know what I mean...).