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skrink
02-25-2016, 05:46 PM
Not handwriting. Writing essays, stories, etc. I have tried everyone's magic curriculum and none have worked. I even tried a real, live tutor, but she was scared off by dd's blatant hostility to the process. (Seriously - she ditched us 20 minutes in. I guess I need to find someone who deals with special needs and/or has a backbone if I want to go that route.)

I don't know how to approach this. Dd is an Aspie but has always had strong language skills. She is a voracious reader, and on her own has written some beautiful things (this is a while ago now), so I have always dismissed the idea of any kind of LD. When asked to write anything at all these days she freaks out. It's a true meltdown trigger. I am thinking that anxiety has to be a big part of this, but I'm wondering if there is some other type of processing issue going on. I don't know how to evaluate that, and I am reasonably sure she will not cooperate with any evaluation that is focused on what she perceives as a weak area.

Anyone have suggestions? I am truly at a loss. I'm wondering if I should just let it drop for now, but writing is incorporated more and more across the curriculum as she gets older. I've reworked things so it's at a bare minimum but I wonder if I'm doing her a disservice.

fastweedpuller
02-25-2016, 06:23 PM
Hmm. So much of writing (I have discovered, with teaching dd) is about scaffolding information. We have a "teacher representative" that DD needs to email every week as part of our parent-partnership thing. She was about to send off the most disorganized "this is what i did" email to the teacher last week...I had to stop her. I *know* she was excited to tell Mary about the metallurgy class she's taking, and the process she used to make the copper pods she made. But. It was a mess. She knew what she wanted to say but had no real idea how to say it.

IEW has been helpful but it's def not THE program if you know what I mean. She seems to be able to organize her thoughts into words for what she has to do for history or science but if it's something longer, like a report, yeah, it's a huge struggle. I tried simply to back the hell off until this year (beginning of 6th) with a formal writing program. I am in your boat paddling with you, I guess is what I am saying.

So...do you think it's a matter of organizing (in her head or on paper first) and getting it down simply? (outline >> paragraph?) Or is it more about real sentence structure, flow, etc.?

atomicgirl
02-25-2016, 07:02 PM
My daughter, who's also on the spectrum, left school in 5th grade terrified of writing. She would just shut down and stare past me if the subject came up. I had no idea what to do, so I didn't do much. We just forgot about writing for a year. She went from doing several 3 to 4 paragraph essays a month (and once, four 2 paragraph essays a day for the entire month. O. M. G.) to a few short answer (1 sentence) questions a couple of times a week. The next year I talked her into NaNoWriMo, which she loved, but when we tried to get back into essays, the catatonic stares returned. By 7th she started to do more writing, and now in 8th, she's a pretty driven author. She just completed her 3rd novel of the year (all in free time) and regularly writes 5 paragraph essays for science, history, and literature.

I don't know how things work with your daughter, but with mine the solution is often to just wait it out until it's her idea. During the years she didn't write I'd occasionally remind her that the key to some goal she was sharing was communication or academic success or whatever, and tie that back to writing. Then I'd just let her think about it.

Now, her writing is not perfect. She needs to work on organization and transitions in her expository writing, and descriptive techniques in her fiction writing, but she's prolific and the effort is unforced, so we've hit a point where we can work on it together. She has her own goal of getting published, so I just gave her "Writing Magic", NaNoWriMo's editing material and a few old copies of writing magazines, and told her to edit. She read most of "Writing Magic" last night and gave me a synopsis over lunch.I have hopes for a solid piece of writing at the end of this.

For us, everything depends on getting through that layer of anxiety induced paralysis (math, science, history, writing--everything is like this to some degree), but patience with that process has paid off. So far.

skrink
02-25-2016, 07:10 PM
She has difficulty summarizing info. When we used to attempt narrations it was similar. She has a hard time picking out main ideas and not including everything. I have had her using graphic organizers to help with overall organization and to get her to narrow her focus but she gets very upset at having to limit herself to a sentence or two for each box. We're using BYL and one of the things she needs to do often is a science biography, which is pretty much just filling in a fact sheet, no further writing and pulling together required. She wants to research each section to death "in case I miss something important." Sigh. It always ends in tears or yelling.

She's told me she doesn't like that there's no easy way to define right and wrong with writing. She does get so very anxious if she thinks she's not doing everything right.

Mariam
02-25-2016, 07:17 PM
Scaffolding is a huge part of writing. But what you may want to consider is to do something else that develops the same skill set, but is not writing. Instead, create videos or audio stories / podcasts. You can create podcasts that do not have to be made public.

Creating a video takes the same composition skills that writing does. Planning, storyboards and the like.

I have been using this to help DS learn about composition and he seems to understand it better than when we talk about writing.

With DS I am think that we might be able to get some writing later, by working backwards from the video and translating the story into text.

dbsam
02-25-2016, 07:29 PM
Maybe you should try another real, live person; someone who fits better with your daughter's personality.

My children are seeing a retired teacher for a once a week writing lesson. My daughter doesn't like to be told what to do and can be defiant. My son is a people-pleaser and is just getting a bit of confidence with writing. This teacher seems to be working well for both of them. (We tried Time-4-writing but my daughter doesn't take an online teacher seriously. My son liked it.)

This teacher is in her late 70's, taught for years at a strict Catholic school, and has a very methodical method to composition. (Exactly the teacher I never thought I wanted them to have:)) She is strict but kind. They, along with a group of friends, see the teacher one hour a week and she assigns homework that they email to her and she emails back comments/corrections. She has no problem telling my daughter "Your paper is technically correct, but I don't think you put much time or thought into it, did you?" My daughter, who is extremely blunt, needs the directness this teacher offers. I was a bit worried she would crush my son but he's been alright.

One of the positives of a real-life teacher is that she can see other issues that might affect their writing. e.g. She noticed some of the kids had grammar errors in their writing so she wants to add a half hour a week for grammar. Next year she would like them to come for three hours so she can cover composition, speech, grammar, and fictional analysis. She feels like they will be ready for high school if they are strong in those areas. I don't know if she is correct; but I know it is more than I was getting done with them! When I asked my daughter to write it was her way or a melt down.

Disclaimer: It's only been six weeks. Things may change as the work becomes more difficult and the novelty of a traditional teacher wears off.

dbsam
02-25-2016, 07:36 PM
I have had her using graphic organizers to help with overall organization and to get her to narrow her focus but she gets very upset at having to limit herself to a sentence or two for each box.


She's told me she doesn't like that there's no easy way to define right and wrong with writing. She does get so very anxious if she thinks she's not doing everything right.

Your daughter sounds very similar to mine. My daughter hates graphic organizers and is also worried about not being perfect.

The teacher my children is seeing is starting them with very basic paragraphs and essays and building slowly. e.g. They started with a five sentence paragraph, later worked on changing the transition words, made it an eight sentence paragraph, changed the type of introduction, etc. I'm not sure if I am explaining it well; it is a slow process.

artemis74
02-25-2016, 08:22 PM
Hello folks, thought I would join this party. I too have a daughter on the spectrum (aspie) who struggles with writing. She is in 5th grade and is 11. We have done most of the IEW intensive which has helped with some things and also do BYL. I feel like the IEW/BYL (because not entirely sure which) have helped her vocabulary so that her writing is much more descriptive however there are still many problems. Grammar and spelling are terrible for her. We still struggle with the run on sentence and it drives me nuts. Organization is also a real challenge. When we write for IEW there are definite rules which help with the organization but this has not been the fix I had hoped for. I had to change the science curriculum (elemental science) because writing the outlines for the biology was taking way too long (like 4 hours for 2 pages too long). Ironically this was one of the reasons I liked this science curriculum - because she would get a lot of experience with writiing. She really doesn't care for writing for school much but does seem to like to write her own stories so I suppose all is not lost. Anyway not sure how to help shrink except to say that yes, I feel your pain. If you come up with a magic bullet let me know:)

atomicgirl
02-25-2016, 08:29 PM
She's told me she doesn't like that there's no easy way to define right and wrong with writing. She does get so very anxious if she thinks she's not doing everything right.

To me, this sounds like more of an "How do you handle anxiety in daily life?" issue than specifically a writing issue. I say that with all the empathy in the world. I think we work on that, and executive function issues, as much as what is normally considered academic material. I know my kid is bright, but it's the rest this "stuff" that gets in the way of her accessing her cognitive potential. How are you treating anxiety? Might that be an avenue to reconsider?

hippiebutterfly
02-25-2016, 08:34 PM
I don't have a child on the spectrum, but I do have 3 kids who've fought me in writing. I was given several tips from some veteran moms years ago. I'll pass along the info here. I know writing is important especially for getting into college, but sometimes, a person is just not good at it and doesn't enjoy it. I personally believe that. Here are the tips I got:

1. Have the child copy paragraphs from great works of fiction. Kinda boring, but as I understand it, it gives a child who doesn't like writing a subliminal education in sentence structure and how to arrange content.

2. Have your child choose a topic to research. It can be anything they enjoy. Go to the library and help them find resources on that topic. Do one step in the research report writing process a week and no more. Maybe instead of a written paper, a collage of pictures with a short paragraph under each.

3. Give them a laptop and tell them to just write about anything they want. No direction. No guidance. Just write. Maybe a journal? Maybe a short story? No definition, just write whatever comes to mind.

4. Let them start a blog. Many blog platforms have security features that allow only certain people to read it. Let them blog about anything they want.

I hope these suggestions are helpful. They were for me. My oldest complained and outright refused to write and so I quit pushing it. He went to college and came home telling me he wished he'd not given me such a hard time. I told him I'd be happy to assist him any time. My middle child did what was assigned and no more. My youngest is an aspiring fiction writer, but ask her to do a research report? Nope. So I just let her write on the laptop. :)

Avalon
02-25-2016, 09:31 PM
My son is 13 and has always resisted writing, to the point that I decided it was really interfering. His issue is that he says he doesn't know what to write. He literally can't think of what to write about anything, and he won't write anything down unless it's perfect. About 2 years ago, I got a super simple remedial "How to Write a Paragraph" workbook aimed at about grade 4 level and we worked through that together. It started with sentences, then topic sentences, then simple paragraphs. We spent about 3 months with it, and by the end, he could compose a simple paragraph without too much frustration.

He still hasn't written anything as long as an essay, but his paragraphs are getting longer. He has a major issue with speed - he moves the pencil at about 10% of the speed that I do, and typing isn't better. I'm trying not to panic.

I recommend copywork and lots of scaffolding. Maybe some writing games - you write a sentence, then she writes one, then you write one, etc... If it's meant to be silly, it might help her anxiety.

skrink
02-25-2016, 09:56 PM
To me, this sounds like more of an "How do you handle anxiety in daily life?" issue than specifically a writing issue. I say that with all the empathy in the world. I think we work on that, and executive function issues, as much as what is normally considered academic material. I know my kid is bright, but it's the rest this "stuff" that gets in the way of her accessing her cognitive potential. How are you treating anxiety? Might that be an avenue to reconsider?

We are addressing the anxiety with both meds and therapy. She has made great strides but there are still areas like this that are proving to be more stubborn stumbling blocks. I think she has built up a huge resistance to the whole notion of "writing" and that it has taken on a bigger role in her mind than it deserves. Maybe it's serving as scapegoat for other concerns? Or maybe she's just always coming at it with such a strong, negative attitude that any weaknesses she may have in this area are magnified. I don't know, just thinking out loud.

I like the idea of approaching the required skills in other formats, or in unexpected ways. Once there's a more solid base for the type of thinking/processes involved she may have enough confidence to start writing things down. She enjoys cartooning - maybe we can tap into that. I will also float the whole video idea. We've never done much there, and it could be novel enough to grab her. I do wish I could find the kind of tutor you have, dbsam. Even with different approaches, I'm wondering if she'd be more willing to work with someone other than me.

Thank you, everyone, for helping me look at this from different angles. It's easy to get stuck in a rut and not be able to think yourself out of it.

hippiebutterfly
02-26-2016, 10:32 AM
@skrink

What if you asked her to write music or movie reviews? Do you think she might enjoy that?

dbsam
02-26-2016, 10:37 AM
@skrink

What if you asked her to write music or movie reviews? Do you think she might enjoy that?

That's how my son started writing. A few years ago my children started writing book reviews for San Francisco Book Review. My son liked seeing his review in the publication, so it gave him an incentive to write...and read.

hippiebutterfly
02-26-2016, 10:48 AM
That's how my son started writing. A few years ago my children started writing book reviews for San Francisco Book Review. My son liked seeing his review in the publication, so it gave him an incentive to write...and read.

That's fantastic! What a great experience for your son!

Even if they weren't getting published, it might be a fun way to write. Listen to a new song on the radio or go see a new movie with family and write about it. We once made our own school newspaper. I introduced each part of a newspaper and my kids got to choose what their "assignment" for the paper was. We then emailed a copy of the newspaper to family and friends. It got rave reviews! :D

CrazyGooseLady
02-26-2016, 02:46 PM
My son had an IEP for writing and did a class for kids who could read well but not write well at the local middle school. After one of my forced teacher conferences (the teacher never wanted to meet with me, but when he did I was able to get things moving better,) I realized that my son didn't know how to brainstorm - despite many organizers and such that had been used in the past.

So I started a daily list. He had to write 10 things for each topic. Things that are red, start with N, names for boys, girls, birds, reptiles, towns in our state....one list, every day. Then one day for a class he needed to write several paragraphs about someone he knew (after a month of the lists.) He didn't know where to start....so I told him to write down ten things about the person....phrases. He realized that he didn't have to write down EVERYTHING he knew, just 10, and that would be fine.

It seems like such a simple thing...he can talk you blue in the face about stuff, but has a hard time narrowing down what he wants to write about. Practice with the 10 Things, helped him to realize that though he knew 55 birds...he could just pick a few. And get started, and then get done. I think that breakthrough with the class was one of the biggest things to help him to learn to write.

And that list thing...that was one of the very few things (supposed to be a time filler) that I learned while doing my student teaching that was actually useful. Not a whole lot else really helped, other than the idea of "if it ain't working, try something else."

skrink
03-01-2016, 10:11 AM
Thanks, everyone, for your suggestions. We are having a very stressful patch (life events, not necessarily homeschool related) right now and I've decided to put writing on hold for a while. I have made a list of the ideas I think will work best for dd and am going to take some time putting together a game plan (and back up plans!) so I'm ready when we are all fresher and calmer. I love this forum - when I get into a rut I can come here for a new perspective. :)