Tia hates to write. Her seventh grade teachers have tried coaxing and threatening her about homework that she has never turned in, but Tia doesn’t seem to care. The only reason she is concerned about not advancing to the eighth grade is that she wants to be in the same classes as her friends.
The motor aspects of writing have always been difficulty for Tia. She writes with a very awkward grip; her thumb overlaps his 2nd and 3rd fingers, and she moves her wrist excessively while forming letters. Sometimes she keeps her eyes only one or two inches from the page while writing. Tia’s handwriting is adequately legible, but she writes very little and the effort required to write seems to be excessive. Tia’s English teacher has noted that Tia’s ideas seem to flow much faster than her fingers can keep up. Tia has been having a really hard time in science and history class where she need to take a lot of notes. She can never write things down quickly enough so she has given up writing more than a word or two.
Tia has always been a good reader and has a great vocabulary. She comes up with many original ideas and has a good sense of humor. Unfortunately, she can’t seem to get those ideas on paper. Tia’s teachers have been keeping her after school and making her complete her work, but she does not accomplish much during these sessions. When she goes home, Tia tells her mother she does not have any assignments due.
Tia loves to listen and dance to music. She saves her allowance each week so she can buy the newest CD by her favorite groups. Some day she wants to work in a music store and she wishes her mom would let her start going to some concerts with her friends.
Tia’s mother and teachers are getting frustrated with her lack of productivity in school. Most of all, Tia is getting frustrated. When her teacher asked her what was wrong she just said, “I guess I’m just too stupid for school.”
- Good reader
- Great vocabulary
- Original ideas
- Good sense of humor
- Listening to music
- Dancing to music
- Collecting music CDs
Areas in Need of Improvement:
- Motor aspects of writing
- Completing homework
Possible Management Plan:
Tia is obviously feeling overwhelmed by school. Tia may lack the motivation to do her assignments because she doesn’t feel there is any chance of success. She may have lost confidence and believe that being successful is somehow beyond her working capacity. The first thing Tia needs to understand is that she is not “stupid.” One way to help her believe this is to be specific about the difficulties she is having.
Tia does not seem to be getting good feedback from the small muscles and joints in her fingers, and as a result Tia over uses her eyes to watch and monitor what her fingers and pencil are doing. Tia should begin to learn to use a computer as soon as possible. It is important for Tia to experience some success when writing and to get some help getting organized.
Leveraging Strengths and Affinities:
- If possible, try having Tia use dictation software to complete her writing assignments. With her great ideas and vocabulary, her productivity should increase when the act of writing is alleviated. If dictation software is not available, Tia could dictate her assignments into a tape recorder and then transcribe them on the computer.
- Have Tia choose project and paper topics based on an aspect of music or the music industry. Perhaps there is a dance or drama club in the school that Tia could become involved in where she could be in charge of organizing and planning an event.
Accommodations and Interventions:
- Hand out notes or a typed or written copy of the material being presented so Tia can follow along at her desk rather than having her try to take notes while listening.
- Provide Tia with partially completed semantic maps outlines, handouts, etc. to serve as guides or to use for review. This will decrease the amount of information she needs to copy and will help with the organization of the material.
- Have tape-recorded lectures and old tests or quizzes available in the classroom as resources for her to review.
- Whenever possible, break up writing assignments into smaller tasks. Help Tia think of writing as a multi-step activity. Set requirements and evaluate performance for each step as it occurs (first grade the plan or brainstorming list, then grade the first draft, then grade spelling, etc.).
- Allow Tia more time to work on the computer and improve her keyboarding skills while also completing assignments. Be aware that some students with graphomotor difficulties may also have difficulty learning to type on a keyboard or typewriter.