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  1. #1

    Default 9 YO With Dysgraphia

    Hi Everyone
    This year I am full time homeschooling my boys for the first time. My oldest is believed to have dysgraphia. The schools refused to test him as they said the label would do nothing for him? Our doctor says there is nothing physical and our psychologist says an OT needs to do the assessment but we can't access OT services as homeschoolers (it is only available through the schools here). My son REALLY struggles with printing, it is physically painful for him to write, he forms his letters is really strange ways and any writing results in a major meltdown. He is also very advanced. Our psychologist did a psychoeducational assessment and he tested 5 to 7 grade levels above his current level in achievements and above grade 12 level in literacy. The only exception was math, where he was at grade level. Since the assessment math became a major issue and he fell very far behind in school due to the difficulties he has in writing. It got so bad he developed a severe anxiety disorder prompting us to pull him from school.

    So now we are homeschooling. I'm wondering if anyone else has been in a similar situation and what you found worked the best to help children like this?

    He is going into Grade 4. For curriculum we have Beast Academy for math (we are starting with grade 3), Pandia for History and Science, Handwriting Without Tears for Cursive (hoping if he can learn cursive it might help?), Typing Instructor (hoping he can type longer writing assignments), and Critical Thinking Co for Reading/Literacy. We started with cursive and typing last year after pulling him from school and although it was ok, it was not something he loved. We just started homeschooling yesterday and I want him to love learning again. I would love any tips.

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  3. #2


    He sounds so much like my son who also is in 4th this year! Handwriting without Tears cursive has been going so awesomely this year, I'm astounded at it actually. He said it is much easier for him. I make it very positive, so much cheering and encouraging and zero pointing out of flaws and he is eating it up. We started with typing this year too but he didn't like it so we stopped after one day. We do lots of books on tape and use the Overdrive library app for audio books. I read to him a bunch but he has really started to want to do that more too. I take lots of dictation from him and tend to do the writing as we get nearer to the end of the day when he fatigues. We take a 30 minute walk after 2 hours of school time and I make sure he eats whenever he wants.

    It's a bit different for us since he's always been homeschooled so while he does have anxiety about writing and reading it's not nearly as bad as your experience I assume since I have been modifying stuff for him since the start and have never pushed too hard. My suggestion to you is to really come along side him and do what you can with and even for him while he gets excited about the topic. Then slowly and carefully have him take over but when you sense frustration back off. You are probably needing to deschool while setting up an environment that is much more supportive for him.

    You can do it!!!! It's ok to back things way down for awhile. I've worried for years that going slow was going to put my son wayyyyyy behind but I am suddenly seeing a blossoming in him that has me very happy. Slow and steady with lots of love wins the race.
    Alice, mom to

    Our Home School Blog

  4. #3


    If youre looking for the diagnosis, Id ask your pediatrician for a referral to an OT for evaluation. Or I suppose you could just call an OT office and ask for one. (Depends on your insurance.) With a diagnosis, insurance will pay part of the costs of therapy (although as little as possible if theyre as stingy as Aetna is).

    Good luck!
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  5. #4


    Thanks for the responses! I'm in Canada so our system is different here. Even the public OTs are only available with school referral.

    Thankfully my son is a voracious reader, well above his age. It's just the writing that is so hard for him. Thanks for the encouragement! I'm hoping I can get him loving learning again.

  6. #5


    My DD struggled with writing and had OT services partly to deal with this issue. She was never labeled dysgraphic and at 13 is only slightly less neat than other kids her age. I don't know if any of these tips will work (DD's issues were fine motor and visual processing), but I thought I'd share anyway:

    1. Graph paper. I was using it for math with her (actually it was special "math paper" with a larger than usual grid on one side), because she couldn't line up her addition and subtraction problems on standard paper, and her math scores were plummeting because of it. Then one day we were working at the library and I only had the math paper with me, so I had her do a writing assignment on it. I was totally shocked because her writing was about 100 times more legible and she was able to write faster. The next day I switched out all her school notebooks with graph paper notebooks and our lives were suddenly easier. The OT was surprised at first, but researched it and found out that it's a known phenomenon for some kids with writing issues.

    2. Doing math on the whiteboard. The act of standing and making big movements took the pressure off of her delayed fine motor skills and let us focus on the math concepts separate from the writing.

    3. Aggressive keyboarding training. Even in first grade some minimal amount of typing practice was non-negotiable every day. Being able to express herself was life changing and keyboarding really opened that door. At 13 she types faster and more accurately than I do, and she writes novels for fun.

    4. Drawing practice. Drawing helps develop the fine motor skills while avoiding the anxiety of writing. A friend has her son color in these really intricate coloring books with technical pens.

    5. Pencil grips. Buy every kind you can find and have him try them all. There was only one kind my daughter liked and the OT had gotten the original as a sample at a conference. We guarded it carefully until I found another in teacher's store.

    6. Theraputty. We buy the heavy grade stuff so when she plays with it (a lot--I allow it as a fidget when we do readings together and some discussion based activities) it really helps strengthen her fingers, which seems to have a positive effect on fine motor skills. You can get it on Amazon.

    Also--My son also hates to write, and at 8 is probably behind grade level expectations, but he's bright in other ways, so I don't press to hard. Up to now the only math I've gotten him to do without a fuss (because of the writing aspect) is Khan. He does all the work in his head, but it gets done and he's working a couple of grades ahead. However, I put my foot down this year and we're doing Beast Academy, too. He's really enjoying it. The math is more intense than other curricula, but the writing is minimal. I hope your son enjoys it.
    AtomicGirl--Mom, old enough to know better
    Athena--13, 8th grade, home schooled, 2E, wicked cool
    Monkey King- 8, 3rd grade, home schooled, future owner of the galaxy

  7. #6


    Hi SPF and welcome!

    There are a lot of parents with kiddos like yours on here: kids that are bright and a bit disregulated in their abilities (gifted in some areas, on level or behind in others). Homeschooling fits the bill of really tailoring their education to their needs. We're "accidental homeschoolers" ourselves for this reason, and it's been a fun ride so far.

    Our kiddo had some handwriting/writing issues at your son's age too. We did not go all in for an OT mainly because she can draw anything...but she did have a hangup about writing. HWoT like was mentioned above is a great program, incidentally! Anyway about the same time as we started homeschooling in 3rd grade she discovered Leonardo daVinci in an art class. Oh boy. Mad scientist and artist who wrote with both hands and wrote backward!! SO COOL. Around the same time our shrink mentioned an OT trick of writing loops (like small letter Ls or Es) backward to loosen up the hand. So, well: I had her write something in cursive and then turned it upside down and told her to write it as she saw it. Then we did what Leonardo did and got a mirror and tried the same thing. It did help loosen her up/see differently/realize that the mark on the page can be creative and maybe even fun even if it IS writing with a purpose.

    We started typing classes in 4th grade too. very helpful

    Look at the Groups tabs above; the one group called Nurturing Emotional Intelligence is very active and helpful and lots of tips and tricks and help! can be found there.

    Your 4th grade list looks great!
    Eclectically homeschooling 8th grade dd, who likes science as much as art...

  8. #7


    My 13 year old has dysgraphia (as did my sister who is now in her 40s.)

    I pulled him out for homeschooling this year, 8th grade. He was able to get by up through 6th grade. In 7th he was totally overwhelmed and I pulled him before things could get worse. He also has ADHD and severe executive function issues.

    If there is anyway to get in touch with a private OT I would see if that is possible. They can pinpoint issues. My son went through a very thorough evaluation which showed that there were motor skill issues as well as coordination problems. His handwriting is so bad that he cannot read his own writing and he also has trouble organizing his writing. So it is not only physical but mental. He is very bright but the dysgraphia overwhelmed him so he did very poorly in school.

    The first thing we and the school did was get him onto electronic devices. In school they provided him, at first, with a word processor in elementary school, then switched it up to an iPad in middle school. It made a world of difference. The important thing with electronics is to get the typing speed up so that the fingers can move at the speed of the brain.

    We also found that cursive was easier than printing for him, but he had trouble reading it (probably because he spent so much time simply learning how to write, that he never really learned how to read.) Still cursive was not enough. It is the electronics that make the difference.

    I know that your child hates typing, but that may be because typing lessons are really boring. When I worked with my son on important assignments and he couldn't type fast enough to get his thoughts out I scribed for him. Learning the information was more important that typing in my opinion. As we went on I typed half and he typed half. Eventually he started getting good at typing. I suggest rudimentary typing exercises for finger placement but then use real life for practice. Long papers may be overwhelming to type so doing the typing for him can really help at this early stage.

    How well does your son do with writing assignments - besides the issue of physically writing. In other words is this just a physical problem or are there organization and other writing issues as well. It is not uncommon for dysgraphia to affect more than just handwriting.
    Mom to two boys
    14 year old/9th grade homeschooler
    Non homeschooled son heading to Reed College this fall, and proudly wearing his Reed/Atheist t-shirt.

    I spend a lot of time sitting in an ice skating rink - still

  9. #8


    I'm a little late to this discussion but thought I'd throw my two cents out there. My 9yo son has dysgraphia. When he was 5 his OT worked with him some with Handwriting without Tears and his kindergarten teacher was an angel, very supportive. First, second and third grade he muddled through with much less supportive teachers and has developed such a mental block/resistance about handwriting (he'll only write one sentence in therapy and he negotiates the number of words in the sentence) that his speech and language therapist has told us no handwriting for the next 6 months except for his spelling words. She suggested we train him on Dragon (I got the Naturally Speaking Home version on Amazon) and have him dictate his work on the computer. At this point he needs to further his verbal/literary skills and he can't do it if he's exhausted and distraught from attempting handwriting. We're basically backing off and unschooling handwriting, so to speak.

    Previous suggestions were to try cursive as it's sometimes easier than print, use different types of pencil grips, use appropriately lined paper for handwriting practice and then toss the pencils and paper altogether and practice on a baking sheet slathered in pudding. You could use sand or flour or salt too but pudding was so much more fun and tasty When he used his index finger in the pudding method he would recite the steps aloud to create the specific letter (eg. "make a C then up and down" for his lower case a).
    DS 12, DD 11, DD 4

  10. #9


    Check out this website: Welcome to Child Diagnostics! - Dianne Craft - Solutions for dyslexia, dysgraphia, and struggling learners My sons did the writing 8s for about 9 months and it made a huge difference with my older son who was more dysgraphic. (Younger is dyslexic...did not help for him.) She has some other things too that are a lot like what my oldest did in vision therapy that may help too.

    Otherwise, all the things listed above are things that my 13 year does/did. He currently uses an iPad with word prediction which some days he likes and some he doesn't. He also uses it to take photos of notes on the board for the couple of classes he has. He may well never be a fast writer. If he can be a fast will be helpful.

  11. #10


    Hi Everyone, thanks for all the comments and feedback. I will look into some of these resources. Cursive has definitely been a help. Thanks again and sorry it took so long to check back in. Once we started homeschooling our days just seemed to race by!

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9 YO With Dysgraphia