By Leslie Lindsay
Welcome back for part II of learning to write with CAS. Last “Apraxia Monday,” we discussed ways in which writing can be a challenge for kids with CAS (abstract concept, concentration/attention skills) and some tips that we as parents and educators can help those kiddos master the fine art of handwriting (large arm movements, gross motor exercises to get the arms a’movin’). Today, we’ll jump into the nitty-gritty.
Most kids learn to print their first name first. You can start by encouraging your child to begin with a capital letter and then use lowerp-case letters for the rest of his name. Pretty basic, I know but you’d be surprised how many folks teach their children to write in all capitals first. (Once your child enters kindergarten, the teacher will insist on lower-case, which can be very confusing for children). However, if you are familiar with the Handwriting Without Tears (HWT) program, you’ll see that capital letters are all introduced first. That’s because they are easier to master (they are composed of more straight lines and less curvy ones, which are more challenging to “draw”).
Once your child has gotten a grasp on writing his name in upper- and lower-case letters, it’s time to move on to teaching the rest of the alphabet in capitals. The trick: it’s not necessary to start with A and progress all the way to Z. I know, it sounds a bit counter-intuitive. Here’s the deal: Start with letters that are generally more “straight,” so that your child can experience some success early on. For example, the letter “A” is hard because it has those pesky slanted lines. Instead, aim for letters like E, F, H, I, L, and T.
I’d encourage you to write out the alphabet on your own and dissect the letters into what you feel are easy and hard. It will probably look something like this:
(Easiest letters to write are already listed above).
2nd Easiest: B, C, D, G, J, O, P, Q, S, and U. That’s because most of these letters have some sort of curve to them.
3rd Easiest (hardest): A, K, M, N, R, V, W, X, Y, Z.
What’s The Deal with Apraxia?
As promised, I will tell you. There are no doubt a lot of components that are working here as a child with CAS learns to write.
- Visual-motor coordination
- Motor planning
- Sensory processing (proprioception)
- Cognitive processes, among others
What’s a parent to do?!
Well, you can start with some simple tracing exercises. Get some paper that you can see through (opaque tracing paper, even vellum can work). Let your child practice penmanship with tracing first.
Move along to creating dotted line worksheets. You can do this on your own, or try http://www.handwritingworksheets.com/
You may have to give really specific, concrete directions as I did with my daughter, “Hold the pencil with your pincher fingers….now let’s may the letter K. Big line down. Pick up your pencil…diagonal line…” (poor kid’s name begins with a K, one of the hardest letters to make).
Create letters out of Play-Doh, Silly Putty, Pretzel Sticks, even those Pull’n Peel Licorice sticks work for creating more curvy letters.
We love–and still use–the Kid O Magnatab,which comes in both upper- and lower-case letters, number, too. It’s great because it is mult-sensory, complete with fun sounds as the magnetic balls pop into place by the use of the attached stylus. One can then use his finger to trace over the raised magnet balls and do it all over again. (Makes for a great car/travel toy).
|Image retrieved from Amazon.com 7.2.12|
Also, the paperless Boogie Board has become an all-time favorite around here (for me, too!). http://learningexpressblog.typepad.com/blog/2012/04/toy-review-boogie-board-paperless-lcd-writing-tablet.html
Just with speech, you will need to provide your child lots of practice time and postive feedback. It is likely that it will take longer for your child with CAS to master handwriting than it may a child without a motor planning speech disorder. Be patient. Allow your child to experiement as well.
If you are truly concencerned, you may need to have an occupational therapist (OT) do a formal evaluation of your child’s handwriting and then offer intervention, if needed.
For more information, please consider these sites:
- Sandpaper Letters (provides that propreioceptive/sensory feedback). www.etsy.com/shop.polliwog77
- Handwriting without Tears, www.hwtears.com
- Institute for Multi-Sensory Education (IMSE), www.orton-gillingham.com
- Multi-Sensory Supplies, www.discountschoolsupply.com
- Zaner-Bloser, www.zaner-bloser.com
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