Listing all posts with label autism. Show all posts.
  1. 10 Tips to Help Children with Dysgraphia

    Does your child struggle to write on the appropriate lines provided? Do you know or teach a child who is challenged and/or frustrated with simply forming basic letters and words? A child or student with these issues just might be challenged with dysgraphia.

    Dysgraphia is a neurological disorder characterized by writing disabilities. Specifically, the disorder causes a person's writing to be distorted or incorrect. In children, the disorder generally emerges when they are first introduced to writing. They make inappropriately sized and spaced letters, or write wrong or misspelled words, despite thorough and apporpriate instruction.

    Children with the disorder may have other learning disabilities; however, they usually have no social or other academic problems. Dysgraphia in adults generally occurs after some trauma. In addition to poor handwriting, dysgraphia is characterized by wrong or odd spelling, and production of words that are not correct (i.e., using "boy" for "child"). The cause of the disorder is unknown, but in adults, it is usually associated with damage to the parietal lobe of the brain.

    1. First, CHANGE the paper used for writing.
    A person with dysgraphia experiences significant challenges in the writing process. These challenges involve the inability to organize information that is stored in memory AND getting words on to paper by handwriting or typing them.

    These 2 challenges prevent dysgraphic persons from understanding the spacing between letters, words, and sentences. In order to help your child visualize the space and to minimize frustration, first consider replacing your child’s lined paper with graph paper or turn the lined paper sideways, with each letter getting its own block/space and leaving an empty block/space between words.

    You might also try using various kinds of highlighted printing papers. There are a few online sources for such supplies. (Please see FREE downloadable templates available via the link provided below here, too.)

    Also, consider changing the color of the writing paper. A particular pastel color for paper may help alleviate some of the visual stress caused by white papers. Just the "right" colored paper for your child could make a positive difference, if only in the way he approaches the writing task.

    2. CHANGE the writing tool or instrument your child uses.
    Dysgraphia affects fine motor control. Because of this, gripping a pencil or pen lightly isn’t natural. Encourage your child to write as if she were holding a feather, or take it a bit further and give her an actual quill and ink. Feathers are delicate and children tend to handle them much more gently than they do a solid object like a pencil. If a quill is not readily available,consider using chalk, as it will crumble when pressed too hard.

    As for writing surfaces, the bigger, the better! Use an easel or a large sheet of white poster board. Another option is to use sliding glass doors on which to write (with washable markers or transparency pens) as they are huge and the glass surface naturally encourages my children to write much more softly than they would on other surfaces. An added benefit is that these large glass doors can easily and quickly be washed.

    In addition, adding a soft and comfortable pencil grip or holder to the writing tool currently used can provide much support for a struggling writer. These types of pencil grips can be found online from various special needs sources.

    3. TEACH your child to type and effectively use a computer keyboard.
    To help eliminate much of the stress of repeated writing difficulties, allow your child to express his ideas and thoughts with a word processor or computer keyboard. Providing this option can relax and enable your child to make more progress in learning in all content areas. Another option for this purpose is a portable keyboard/word processor called AlphaSmart. Although an older type of assistive technology, the AlphaSmart keyboards can provide the needed typing tool for a challenged writer and is available online either new or used.

    4. INTRODUCE your child to gross motor skill exercises.
    Show your child a few gross motor skill exercises to strengthen the arm and hand. Then incorporate these exercises into your child's daily routine. Make them fun, combining them with rhymes or your child's favorite kind of music. A good resource for these types of exercises is OT Mom Learning Activities (please see "gross motor" link below here).

    5. INTRODUCE fine motor control exercises.
    Introduce fine motor control exercises to strengthen the fingers and wrist. Add these to your child's daily activities as well. By combining these exercises with some relaxing instrumental music selections, your child may relax a bit more and be able to concentrate on the exercises more successfully. A variety of fine motor exercises can also be accessed via many special needs or OT websites such as OT Mom Learning Activities, too (please see "fine motor" link below here).

    6. CONSIDER by-passing printing & proceed directly to cursive writing.
    The move to cursive, too, can significantly reduce the levels of frustration experienced by many with dysgraphia, allowing them to relax and become better able to write. This might be a temporary by-pass of printing, or it could become more permanent, depending upon the results observed with the cursive writing.

    7. DEVELOP & UTILIZE narration or speaking skills whenever possible.
    Dysgraphia causes some individuals to experience a block between thinking something and writing it. Narration is an excellent tool for helping your child record her thoughts. Saying letters and words aloud as they are recorded on a small tech device (mp3 player or the like) or with a text-to-speech program will also be a benefit when it is time to write down those words. A handy list will have already been created.

    8. WORK TOGETHER to evaluate & change your writing goals as needed.
    Discuss at least once per week about how the accommodations are working to help your child. Even if your child is young, he can provide valuable input as to what is working and what is not. He may even have additional ideas to add or request, especially after you have begun to show him just a few helpful strategies or accommodations.

    9. DEMONSTRATE and USE large "air writing" techniques.
    Demonstrate and use large "air writing" of letters to develop a more efficient motor memory for the sequence of steps necessary in making each letter. You might also introduce "sand writing" which involves using the finder to write out letters in a sided tray of sand. These multi-sensory approaches often yield very positive results.

    10.MAKE USE of a other multi-sensory techniques.
    Make use of a variety of multi-sensory techniques to further develop handwriting skills. Visit Dysgraphia Resources to access more than 200 multi-sensory activities, tools and other resources to help your child with the challenges of dysgraphia (many of the resources there are FREE, too!)

    Sources & Resources:

    8 Strategies to Beat Dysgraphia from Homeschool Gameschool blog
    http://homeschoolgameschool.com/8-strategies-to-beat-dysgraphia/

    Strategies for Dealing with Dysgraphia by Regina G. Richards, LD Online
    http://www.ldonline.org/article/5890

    BEST Websites for Dyslexia & Dysgraphia from Help for Struggling Readers blog
    http://helpforstrugglingreaders.blogspot.com/2013/10/best-websites-for-dyslexia-dysgraphia.html

    Pencil Grips and Holders from Fun and Function
    https://funandfunction.com/more/write-and-more/grips.html

    AlphaSmart Keyboards
    Portable assistive technology for keyboarding and word processing.
    https://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aalphasmart%20keyboards

    Fine Motor Activities from OT Mom Learning Activities
    www.ot-mom-learning-activities.com/hand-exercises-for-kids.html

    Gross Motor Skill Activities-from OT Mom Learning Activities
    http://www.ot-mom-learning-activities.com/gross-motor-activities.html

    Able Apps for Dysgraphia from Help for Struggling Readers blog
    http://helpforstrugglingreaders.blogspot.com/2012/08/able-apps-for-dysgraphia.html

    200+ Dysgraphia Resources---ALL in 1 Place from Brennan Innovators, LLC
    More than 200 multi-sensory resources to help someone you know with dysgraphia.
    https://www.pinterest.com/brennajn2000/dysgraphia-resources/?etslf=6371&eq=Dysgraphia
  2. MORE Helpful Resources for the Autism Community

    In June 2015, we had the pleasure of publishing an article for the autism community that was written by one of its members, Ms. Kathleen Carter.  She is challenged with Asperger’s Syndrome and authored the article in this blog entitled Empowering Resources for Persons of ALL Ages with Autism.

    Once again, we are pleased to publish here Ms, Carter's latest collection of resources for the autism community.  As our readers may know, there is  a wide range of ways and levels in which people are affected by autism.  Because of this, nearly every autism resource has the potential to significantly impact the quality of life for many on the spectrum. 

    Many of our readers may have witnessed firsthand the very helpful benefits of service dogs, but did you know that these very special dogs can be profoundly beneficial for autistic persons?  Ms. Carter has told us that she herself will soon begin working with an autism service dog, and she wants to spread the good word about the positive impact these animals can have for those on the autism spectrum.  In addition to the service-dog links included in her list below, Ms. Carter and we have also included other resources that may help the individuals who need them.  We, too, hope our readers who work hard to serve persons on the autism spectrum will find them to be helpful in their good efforts.

    Thank you, Ms. Kathleen Carter, for providing this great list of resources!

    4 Paws For Ability
    http://4pawsforability.org/autism-assistance-dog/

    The Life-Changing Impact of Autism Service Dogs
    https://www.rover.com/blog/autism-service-dogs

    Stress & Anxiety Reduction | Autism Research Institute
    http://www.autism.com/treating_grodin

    How to Handle the 4 Most Challenging Autism Behaviors
    https://www.care.com/a/how-to-handle-the-4-most-challenging-autism-behaviors-1204050236

    The Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759)Low-tech Reading Tools for Challenged Readers 
    From Brennan Innovators, LLC
    Sensory-appealing and customizable reading tools and solutions for challenged readers of all ages. Made in the U.S.A. 
    www.FocusandRead.com/products

    19 User-Friendly Apps for Individuals with Disabilities and Special Needs Children
    http://www.cellphonecity.com/blog/features/19-user-friendly-apps-for-seniors-alzheimers-patients-and-caregivers-individuals-with-disabilities-and-special-needs-children

    Reading Focus Cards Digital Desktop App (Patent 8,360,779)---for Macs & Windows PCs (Price: $5.99)
    From Brennan Innovators, LLC
    This desktop app for Windows PCs and Macs is the digital version of the physical Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759), solutions for struggling readers. The app provides practical support for children and adults with autism, ADHD, dyslexia and other conditions that can affect reading success. It promotes more focused reading of digital media---whether online or offline. The application floats on top AND stays on top of any other underlying application.
    1. Macs (desktops & notebooks): Visit the Mac App Store and search for Reading Focus Cards or go directly to 
    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/read-and-focus/id920617853?mt=12
    2. Windows PCs (desktops & laptops): Visit Gumroad at 
    https://gumroad.com/l/ReadingFocusCards

    A Parent’s Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder
    http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/a-parents-guide-to-autism-spectrum-disorder/index.shtml  

    National Center for Autism Resources & Education
    https://www.disability.gov/resource/national-center-for-autism-resources-education-ncare/

    Source for image: http://rlv.zcache.com/autism_puzzle_ribbon_awareness_poster-r447c6ac7647142f0ae07364edc5fe352_xzptb_8byvr_512.jpg
  3. Empowering Resources for Persons of ALL Ages with Autism
     
    We believe that the right tools, strategies and resources can significantly improve one’s reading and learning success, especially when reading and learning can be difficult for someone with ADHD, dyslexia and other issues.
     
    If you or someone you know is challenged with autism, however, the importance of those tools, strategies and resources may be even more important in efforts to improve the quality of life.  You may already know about the low-tech and digital Reading Focus Cards, effective tools that help challenged, unfocused readers with autism and sensory issues.  We also provide a free list of reading and learning strategies and accommodations to help persons of any age with autism.  The list can be found on this website.
     
    For this article, we wanted to address the third component---resources that can actually help to EMPOWER persons with autism to become more confident, more socially interactive and better able to overcome their obstacles.  In our efforts to write this article, we have received the assistance of Ms. Kathleen Carter, a high-school student with Asperger's (autism) and volunteer-intern-extraordinaire at EducatorLabs.  She assists the organization with its research and outreach activities. 
     
    Ms. Carter has kindly provided the first six empowering resources in our list included here.  We want to thank her for these good resources for autism.  We have added a few more links to the list and hope that because of our combined efforts, these resources may help you or others you know in the autism community to feel empowered to become more confident, more comfortable in social situations and more independent in overcoming the challenges of autism---each and every day!

    Empowering Resources for Persons with Autism

    1.   Autism Speaks Resource Guide
    http://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/resource-guide

    2.   Career Assistance for People with Autism
    http://www.hloom.com/career-assistance-for-people-with-autism/

    3.   National Center for Autism Resources & Education
    https://www.disability.gov/resource/national-center-for-autism-resources-education-ncare/

    4.   AutismNOW Transition Planning
    http://autismnow.org/in-the-classroom/transition-planning-for-students/

    5.   Aquatic Therapy for Children with Autism
    http://www.saveonpoolsupplies.com/landing/aquatic-therapy-for-children-with-autism.aspx

    6.   Autism
    http://healthfinder.gov/FindServices/SearchContext.aspx?topic=81

    7.   Equine Therapy Programs for Children with Asperger's and Autism
    http://www.equine-therapy-programs.com/aspergers.html

    8.   Autism Resources from Easter Seals
    http://www.easterseals.com/explore-resources/living-with-autism/autism-resources.html

    9.   Family Grant Opportunities (for Therapy, Assistive Technology, etc.)
    https://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/resource-library/family-grant-opportunities

    10. Resources - Solutions to Problems in the Autism Community---US Autism & Asperger Association
    http://www.usautism.org/resources.html

    11. BEST Apps for Sensory Processing Issues (iPad, Android and Desktop Apps)
    http://helpforstrugglingreaders.blogspot.com/2015/04/best-apps-for-sensory-processing-issues.html

    12. BEST Apps for Autism-2015 (iPad, Android and Desktop Apps)
    http://helpforstrugglingreaders.blogspot.com/2015/01/best-apps-for-autism-2015.html

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