My 8th-grade son’s handwriting is illegible. His IEP includes OT, but no handwriting practice.
The school district and OT teacher maintain that handwriting practice is not a function of OT.
If your son’s handwriting is illegible in the 8th grade, you’re right to be concerned.
When children write, they must make a link between their motor skills and their language system. Handwriting is a special skill in its own right.
Your son more than likely needs direct instruction or assistive technology so he can progress in the general curriculum.
Problems that can impede progress in handwriting are not always apparent just by looking at your son’s papers.
The OT should conduct an assessment of his handwriting to include observation of:
All of these skills become increasingly important as your child moves through the higher grades. Teachers use written work to measure how well your son is learning.
When your son needs to write essays, he will have to focus on many different tasks at the same time – handwriting, spelling, grammar, word choice, sentence formation, organization, and planning.
When memory is overloaded, it is even harder to form letters neatly and correctly.
In the list of what an OT does, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) includes:
- Help develop and evaluate handwriting curriculum
- collaborate with teachers on effective strategies
1. Is your son’s OT helping to develop curriculum and effective teaching strategies – like handwriting practice?
2. Does your son’s IEP include handwriting goals?
3. Is it clear in the IEP what services the OT will provide in order to help your son meet his goals?
IDEA requires a statement of your son’s Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance. These present levels indicate your son’s unique characteristics or needs.
An example might be – Handwriting that is slow, labored, “drawn,” nearly illegible due to improper size and spacing of letters and words.
The IEP Team’s next question should be “what is the school going to do about this”- specific OT services.
You may need to request, in writing, an IEP meeting to review and revise your son’s present levels, goals and services.
Your son’s OT should attend the meeting as part of the IEP Team.