Jump to content
ACN Latitudes Forums

Suggestions for improving decrease in writing skills


cdklyn
 Share

Recommended Posts

This morning when I dropped my daughter (4 yrs old) off at pre school, her teacher brought to my attention the recent decrease in her handwriting skills. She showed me a comparison from early January to now and the decrease is significant. We are seeing a ped. neurologist in 3 weeks, but was wondering if anyone has suggestions on what we can do until then. Has anyone had success with occupational therapy to improve these skills? We are in the very early stages of all of this and need guidance from those who have been there:)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, occupational therapy can help improve fine motor skills. My son had beautiful handwriting, i have samples from age 6. Somewhere around age 8, he lost the ease and beauty. By middle school, he could barely write, and what he did write was completely illegible--messy, off-the lines, reversals, and zero spacing. I took him to OT, and in 6-9 months, his writing had become legible once again. He never regained his baseline, but it's functional. I should add that my son has not yet received dx or treatment for PANS.

 

Be prepared for the possibility that an OT may not think that your child needs services yet, as fine motor skills are still so immature in early childhood. My guess it that it might hinge on the before and after writing samples that you supply, and on the level of disparity, too.

 

Some words of advice... Save samples for years to come. I am seventeen years into a mystery illness with my son, and I am SO thankful that I can prove today that my son lost skills so many years ago. Also, do not relinquish your originals. Leave copies with providers, keep your originals.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This morning when I dropped my daughter (4 yrs old) off at pre school, her teacher brought to my attention the recent decrease in her handwriting skills. She showed me a comparison from early January to now and the decrease is significant. We are seeing a ped. neurologist in 3 weeks, but was wondering if anyone has suggestions on what we can do until then. Has anyone had success with occupational therapy to improve these skills? We are in the very early stages of all of this and need guidance from those who have been there:)

 

OT didn't really help us. The school said she didn't qualify (but they never have anyone qualify). We then went through our medical group. Our insurance didn't want to cover the OT, AND the OT with the medical group said we should go through the school. Ughh. The "margin drift" problem that we were trying to unsucessfully address with OT, then got better with IVIG (dd had been on abs the whole time).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would think that OT may have some positive impact, but deteriorating skills are frequently part and parcel of PANs. So as you move through a treatment protocol that includes abx, anti-inflammatories, etc., you should see improvement again. I would think the OT would be most helpful in trying to help her keep her skills at an age-appropriate level, since this is a developmental period and you wouldn't want the PANs-impacted "skill set" to become her "norm."

 

You might take a look at Dr. K.'s web site, along with the White Paper that was very recently posted here. Both of them have examples of deterioration in small motor (writing, drawing) skills during illness, preceded and followed by age-appropriate capabilities in better health. These might be of interest and/or use to your DD's teachers.

 

As someone else suggested, I would also maintain a journal complete with samples (make sure they're dated) so that you have this information available going forward.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This morning when I dropped my daughter (4 yrs old) off at pre school, her teacher brought to my attention the recent decrease in her handwriting skills. She showed me a comparison from early January to now and the decrease is significant. We are seeing a ped. neurologist in 3 weeks, but was wondering if anyone has suggestions on what we can do until then. Has anyone had success with occupational therapy to improve these skills? We are in the very early stages of all of this and need guidance from those who have been there:)

 

A Therapist will probably try different size pencils, rubber pencil grips, different holding techniques, etc. Some of these you can try now.

OT might help but it did not in our case. Part of that was OT was provided prior to proper diagnosis. Part is that my son was on the decline during OT. Big part is my son just didn't care enough to try.

 

I would say that much will depend on your daughter's attitude.

 

bill

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We found OT very helpfu, on a variety of fronts. But once we treated the illness, her handwriting skills suddenly took off.

 

While she was suffering, while I can't really say that OT improved her handwriting - it did help her stamina and confidence. She was so exhausted by writing that it wss a major battle to get her to write. She did this game with a clay - texture kind of like silly putty. We actually had three different strengths of the putty. We had small objects that we'd "hide" in this, and then she would have to squeeze and pull at the putty to find the tiny toys. She loved it, we carried it everywhere with for a while, and it did seem to help. I'd think you could make this at home.

 

Definitely, for us, the best thing was antibiotic treatment. But I am always "pro" things that help kids get through the sypmtomatic stages.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We found OT very helpfu, on a variety of fronts. But once we treated the illness, her handwriting skills suddenly took off.

 

While she was suffering, while I can't really say that OT improved her handwriting - it did help her stamina and confidence. She was so exhausted by writing that it wss a major battle to get her to write. She did this game with a clay - texture kind of like silly putty. We actually had three different strengths of the putty. We had small objects that we'd "hide" in this, and then she would have to squeeze and pull at the putty to find the tiny toys. She loved it, we carried it everywhere with for a while, and it did seem to help. I'd think you could make this at home.

 

Definitely, for us, the best thing was antibiotic treatment. But I am always "pro" things that help kids get through the sypmtomatic stages.

 

 

I agree that treatment for PANS is critical, because handwriting problems tend to fluctuate when the child is sick. I also agree to refer to the 2 sites that KimBallot put in her post for specific recommendations for OT's treating PANS patients.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Our son was young at dx as well, only 2. When he was 3 we had him screend for OT for his loss of motor skills. Our most noticable issue at the time was when he was eating, he would resort to eating everything with his hands like a toddler because using utensils was nearly impossible for him.

 

The private OT we took him too, as well as the OT at the school (he's in special ed pre-K right now) saw the issues, but since they were transient (a classic PANDAS trademark), and since at his age the fine motor skills are still not strong and are continuting to build, neither felt he qualified. They gave us some suggestions as far as eating utensils that would help (bigger, curved handles, that sort of thing.)

 

He's 4 1/2 now, and we still see some of the eating issues when he's in a flare, but we're very concerned about his handwriting - he is behind for his age (and his academic ability) - he can read, spell and do addition and subtraction, but he can't write his name. He still can't draw pictures that look remotely like anything other than scribbles on the page, and he should be able to be drawing what I call "head people" by now - circle with a face with arms and legs coming out of it.

 

His teacher says that he fights her when it's time to write, but that she's using a program called "writing without tears" which is working for him and he seems to enjoy, but unless she pushes him and stays with him, he can't/won't do it on his own. I suspect that his "just right" OCD also has something to do with it - because we see it at home when we try to get him to write his letters, he'll try 1, and if it's not perfect start to cry and get frustrated and quit, refusing to do any more because he "can't".

 

His teacher recommended getting him assessed again at the end of the school year to see if he improves - since he's a late fall birthday, he has 1 more year in that program before he starts Kindergarten, so she's recommending waiting to see if he does improve as his health improves, and focus on OT next year if it's still an issue.

 

I guess my point, is that in our case his age and limited issues was what didn't qualify him for OT becuase they said the skills were still developing, and while there was a regression, it still wasn't outside of the normal range for his age.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We've used the program Airial's child's school is using with him. It's called Handwriting Without Tears and we purchased it ourselves (we homeschool). The OTs my children have seen both through the PS system and private have all used that program. It is a very gentle and thoughtfully designed program (IMHO) and my kids responded very well to it. BUT, neither of them would do it independently, or do well with it, while flaring and success is variable depending on their state of health. For my dd, who had developed her fine motor skills more before the PANDAS kicked in, she goes back and forth between lovely and illegible handwriting, with the determining factor being whether or not she's in exacerbation. For my ds the PANDAS kicked in so young that he never really got off the ground and at 7 it's still just not there (of course, he's not had success with abx and we're headed toward IVIG so hopefully after that we'll be able to make some progress. Interestingly, he got tired of being slowed down and frustrated by handwriting and taught himself to type this year.

 

Anyway, much more I'd like to add about this based on our experiences, so I'll try to return to it over the weekend sometime. We're in full blown CRAZY mode for a couple of days!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

thenmama,

 

I'm glad to hear about how your son has coped, because one of my biggest worries is that my gifted little boy will fall behind because his fine motor skills haven't developed enough thanks to PANDAS for him to keep up once he's mainstreamed!

 

He likes the computer, maybe I need to start working with him on his typing!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He likes the computer, maybe I need to start working with him on his typing!!

 

Arial -- Our DS had horrific penmanship even outside of exacerbation, and in exacerbation, well, forget it. Totally illegible. <_<

 

But he, too, has always liked computers and had his first typing skills class in grade school. He's been happily keyboarding ever since. Took to typing like a fish takes to water, and he's faster and more accurate than most of his classmates now. In high school, they issued all the kids netbooks and most of their work is done via keyboard and computer.

 

Also worth noting: there are a few good, very affordable voice recognition programs available now so that, even if an exacerbation is too tough for decent typing, with the right accommodations, a kid could "speak" his assignment and actually let the computer do a bulk of the typing for him; all he has to do is go in and clean up the punctuation and grammar a bit. Our DS used this in the tougher times when both writing and typing were too much to ask.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh Airial-- never fear-- our kids will get where they need to go! Both of my kids (also both gifted and both struggle with fine motor issues due to PANS) have found ways to overcome the obstacles posed by the PANDAS fine motor skill deterioration. My dd is passionate about art, especially design, and she wants to be a designer when she grows up. Drawing and sewing are her things and when PANDAS impacts her use of her hands it's pretty devastating for her-- but she's found ways to get over/around/past it. Your son will, too.

 

I want to share with you a link to an article about a young woman who really inspired my dd-- a gifted artist, thinker, and activist who has been disabled since birth due to environmental toxins and paints with her mouth. If someone who cannot use her hands can become a successful painter-- we can believe that our kids will also find their way to becoming who and what they need to be, as well.

 

Link here

 

 

Anyway, I do have so much more to share with you given the similarities of our younger children's situations--- but I'm not even supposed to be here right now! Back at it I go...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...