View Full Version : Dysgraphia and the Middle Schooler

03-05-2015, 05:19 PM

I was wondering if there is anyone who is homeschooling a child with Dysgraphia? My 12 year old was diagnosed after we pulled him out of school February of 2014. I wanted to find out how he was doing academically and had him assessed with the Woodcock Johnson test. What an eye opener that was! He is was well above grade level in most everything except the writing aspects, where he was on the 2nd/3rd grade level. As he appeared to be doing extremely well in school, we didn't realize there was a problem. In hindsight, the diagnosis made total sense considering the issues he had with book reports, tying his shoes, and buttoning and snapping pants.

I'd love the hear the accomodations people have made to help their child succeed. I'd also love to hear any success stories. :)

Accidental Homeschooler
03-05-2015, 06:11 PM
We keep plugging along with writing and keyboarding, just a little bit a day. But we did just buy Dragon voice to text software. We are still trying to get the computer to accept the microphone (and it has been on my to do list for a week now) so I can't give you a review. My dd is nine but there is no way she can write a paper of story or essay if she has to do the writing or typing. I scribe for her a lot but I have high hopes that Dragon will help her be independent with writing. It is very frustrating to her to have ideas and not be able to get them on paper. She uses google microphone for email and using the internet on her iPad.

03-05-2015, 08:39 PM
I have dragon too. It is a royal pain in the butt to train though. We did find that the dragon dictation app for the ipad required much less in the way of training. We even tried it with recorded conversation (playing a recording of J talking) and it worked fairly well. Had to do some editing of resulting transcription but it wasn't too bad. If you use the Chrome browser, https://talktyper.com/ is an interesting site. I haven't used it but did try it out to make sure it did what it said it would, and it seems to.

We also are working with IEW Student Writing Intensive. I am pleasantly surprised how J is actually willing to do it. Mind you, he'd much rather not, but will do it if it is on the plan for the day.

03-05-2015, 08:45 PM
My son has dysgraphia. However, he is a 2e child that struggles with ADHD-PI, so we may be dealing with additional stuff that you’re not. I scribe for him a lot. He also types and uses Dragon.

I am inspired to post not because I have any great advice about dysgraphia, but because Julie mentioned she was going to start her daughter on Dragon.

Before my son started with Dragon, I attended a week-long ‘adaptive-technologies’ camp run by the local LD society, and I got to listen to people whose job it is to train people to use -- among other things -- Dragon naturally speaking. If I hadn’t attended that camp, we probably would have abandoned Dragon in frustration. (It’s a great program, but it has a very steep learning curve. One problem is that while you’re learning how to use Dragon, you’re also training Dragon to recognize your voice, which can be a frustrating experience.)

Anyway, here are some of the points that they told me to help make working with Dragon easier:

- They advised against buying the cheapie student version, recommending instead the next version up. Apparently, in the cheapest version, the dictionary is too small, and you’ll spend forever ‘training’ it to recognize words that are missing from it’s dictionary. (Note that this was in 2012 – I don’t know if that still applies to their products now.)

- Use a good USB headset, not the analog headset that comes with the program.

- Be sure to position the microphone properly – right at the corner of your mouth. Too high or too low, and Dragon gets confused.

- Always sit up straight. Slouching can change your voice (and thereby confuse Dragon).

- Dragon works best if you compose your sentence in your head and then speak it all at once. It uses context to help decode words, and consequently doesn’t do as well if you’re speaking slowly or in fits and starts because you’re making up the sentence as you’re saying it.

- A great way to learn and train Dragon is to use a book and input passages from that book.

When DS started with Dragon, we spent a little time on it every day. I treated it like any other subject – spelling, or math, or (for that matter) typing. It took DS about two months of working with it daily before he really became comfortable with it.

It takes effort, but once you get it figured out (and it gets you figured out), Dragon works quite well.


Accidental Homeschooler
03-06-2015, 12:04 AM
Thank you Carol!! The steep learning curve and taking it slowly is especially good to know and I will abandon this headset and try with a higher quality one.

03-08-2015, 09:02 PM
"They advised against buying the cheapie student version, recommending instead the next version up. Apparently, in the cheapest version, the dictionary is too small, and you’ll spend forever ‘training’ it to recognize words that are missing from it’s dictionary. (Note that this was in 2012 – I don’t know if that still applies to their products now.)"

I have a 2E son with fine motor delay and horrible handwriting, but he is full of big ideas for books and stories, so I was thinking of getting Dragon. My husband is a radiologist and has used all kinds of voice-to-text software at work and said not to bother, because the training of the software is so cumbersome. What you are saying makes a lot of sense, though. I am looking at the website and trying to figure out which version is the next version up from the student version (understanding that it might all have changed since you bought it). Is is the Home version or the Premium version? Home is on sale and is cheaper than the student version right now but seems like it would probably have a bigger dictionary. Thanks!


03-09-2015, 12:05 PM
In 2012, the version that they recommended we stay away from was called ‘Home.’ The one we bought on their recommendation was called ‘Premium.’ At the time, the regular prices in Canada were roughly $100 (Home) versus $200 (Premium).

I don’t completely trust my memory about the sizes of the dictionaries in each, but I do remember that the difference in 2012 was huge. I seem to think it was something like 5000 words (for Home) versus in the hundreds of thousands of words (for Premium). The difference was substantial enough that I was suspicious it could even be true, and asked multiple people at the adaptive technologies camp about it, but I always got a similar answer.

(Note that if Dragon doesn't recognize a word because it's not in the dictionary, you can teach it the word, and it will know if from then on. But it obviously takes time to do so.)

As far as I know -- though I'm no expert on Dragon -- the different versions all run the same software, but have different-sized dictionaries. The really expensive legal and medical versions have added in the vocabularies for those professions.

To be certain, you could always call customer service at Dragon and ask.


03-15-2015, 05:05 PM
I have a son with dysgraphia and speech issues (and ADHD.) We tried Dragon on an iPad app and it was HORRIBLE. VERY limited vocabulary.

My son has an IEP which I am thinking of dropping. This year they decided to make a "Class for kids who can read well but can't write" after the previous year they wanted to put him in a remedial reading class. (6th grade, reading 11th grade level, umm, NO!) The class is going about as well as I expected, which is, he is a test subject and it is not going really well. All the school biases against homeschooling are there.

"Your son is too distractible." Yup, I knew that. That is why I didn't have him in school.
"He can't write fast enough." Yup, knew that. That is why we did a lot of figure 8s, which DID improve speed. Can he use a laptop in class? "No, they take to long to set up." Hmm, how about he use his iPad with a word prediction app like the OT recommended? "Well, okay." Typing is now faster.

Pulling teeth to get a progress meeting. Finally have it, and teacher says he doesn't know what I could do at home to help. My son is still distracted, but asks to work in the hallway when it is noisy. (Works for me!) He has a hard time generating lists. He has a hard time transitioning from one thing to another when he isn't done with what he is doing. (Don't we all.) I came up with the idea of having my son brainstorm lists at home, random things like "10 things that are brown." Which I have him do by interrupting other lessons then having him go back to them when he is done. Seems to getting easier.

All of these issues, the teacher and counselor implied could have been prevented had he taken "regular" classes before this. Which I tried to have him do at the ALE, but he couldn't because he is special ed and they don't have a special ed teacher. The teacher and counselor (who came from another ALE so has an idea about homeschooling) wanted my son to do the writing test of the MAP test. It is multiple choice. I agreed and said he would do just fine. They nodded, giving me unbelieving looks. When my son did the test, the counselor was amazed, because he had scored ABOVE the highest levels for his grade level (off the charts) for portions of the test. Yup, just what I expected. K12 and the Exercises in English books are great at teaching grammar. The counselor was amazed that I had had him doing that curriculum and I "think" finally understands that my sons issues are NOT because I homeschool him. Sigh.

Otherwise, we have been doing Home2Teach classes. I feel like he is actually getting a lot out of them, even when he had to repeat a class. (They gave him harder assignments.) The format is that they teach a lesson online (all text) and the kids give examples. Then, the kids need to do an assignment - which is like what they did online AND has checklists. He submits it to the teacher, who makes corrections and suggestions. It is like having a private writing tutor. And I have been able to adapt their methods for other things, so win-win!

I am hoping that his speech will be good enough soon that we can get Dragon on a laptop. He still will need to take notes (iPad photos work well for things on the board, just be sure teacher is okay with that.) The app he is using on the iPad is called P-Typing, and seems to be pretty good. Pretty much has most of the words he wants....which is pretty good as his vocabulary tends towards very high level science levels.

03-17-2015, 05:44 PM
I have a middle schooler with dysgraphia. He is interesting because he wants to. Do. The work, but often can't. We used. MBTP with him. I would often orally ASK him the reading comprehension questions as opposed to making him write them. (I would also enter the questions on word document and have him use Dragon)
I made sure we did Grammar every, single day. (We used Easy Grammar) and we still did most of the grammar in MBTP. ) I really pushed him to understand EVERYONE makes mistakes when writing, everyone! Being a good editor is more important in the long run.
I had to teach and reinforce writing in complete sentences. ( this was natural to my 2 older students)
I made writing count for several subjects. If you write a paragraph on native Americans, this can count for English. (especially good if using a curriculum like MBTP because their units work together.)

He is actually going to the local Middle School instead of being homeschooled now. He really, really wants to go to High School and we are working with the school, to get him there. But all our hard work paid off, he has 2 regular classes and even he qualifies for extra help, he does not use it. He has A's and B's in both classes. (Finished the semester off with 1 A and 1 B)

We have to remind to work hard and put out his best effort. (Having a disability means you have to work HARDER.) He still struggles with it from time to time, but he is being moved from the "Special Ed" English class to the regular English class next semester.

05-08-2015, 03:23 AM
My son was diagnosed with dysgraphia. He's only eight, and I do a lot of scribing for him. His writing is so bad that it's almost painful for me to watch him struggle so hard for so little progress. But even a little progress is progress. He has ADHD as well, and a communication disorder so it just seems like he has so much working against him. I'm definitely going to look into some of the ideas mentioned here. Thank you for such wonderful advice.