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Janna:  My 9 yr old has been diagnosed by an independent psychologist with “Impairment of written expression.” He also has diagnosis of autism and general anxiety disorder. At this year’s IEP meeting the school psychologist told me “Impairment of written expression was NOT dysgraphia and they did not have to provide accommodations for it. However, since he has AUTISM he’s getting accommodations for that.”Our state has changed math requirements to include more sentence type explanations of answers so my child is becoming more frustrated with school. They did not allow for him to have a scribe and would not list his learning disability on the IEP. Please help me educate our school system and make sure my child gets appropriate accommodations while we are privately remediating his writing skills at home. Thank you!

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09/25/2016 8:53 pm

“Our state has changed math requirements to include more sentence type explanations of answers so my child is becoming more frustrated with school. They did not allow for him to have a scribe.”

I can relate.


1. Scribe for your child at home. The better he gets at working with a scribe at home, the more successful he will be in using this accommodation when they try it out at school.

2. Get him enlarged format math worksheets and homework. Again, if you have trouble getting this accommodation at school, start by providing it at home. Stop by someplace with a xerox machine and use the zoom feature. Or type up the assignment or write it by hand — just make sure to leave HUGE amounts of space for your child to write in.

(You can scribe on these sheets too, as needed, and this will be helpful modeling for your child.)

3. Try to train your child to write the answers on a separate sheet of paper. (I said “try” because with a child with anxiety this is sometimes easier said than done.)

4. As much as possible, work directly with your child’s teacher, to convince him or her that these small adjustments enable your child to do his best work.

5. Start your child with learning touch typing. This is a good age to begin. A little bit every day, or several days a week, with BBC Dance Mat Typing, and in 3 to 6 months he will probably be able to type at the same speed as handwriting (i.e. about 15 wpm). Try to get portable word processor for all academics in the IEP under Assistive Tech.

6. It can be helpful to have an ally in the school. Occupational therapist? Social worker? Friendly, supportive paraprofessional? Special ed teacher? Librarian? (In our case, our best ally was the librarian’s assistant!)

7. An OT evaluation might help; an AT evaluation might help. This type of outside eval is much more affordable (if you have to pay out of pocket) than educational psych or neuropsych, and sometimes does the trick.

8. When you are able to show the teacher good work done at home with specific supports, s/he may get excited with you, and give them a try at school.

9. Have your child make an audio recording of his answers to that type of question. You can do this with the computer or with an inexpensive mp3 player, and then email the audio file to his teacher.

10. You can reassure your child, and tell him it’s okay to skip some of the questions. Celebrate the great work he has done on the problems he did work on.

I would try not to get too hung up on things like “listing his learning disability on the IEP” in the short term. This is sometimes a bit like waving a red cloth in front of a bull.

09/22/2016 4:47 pm

Dysgraphia is an impairment of written expression. Schools are not able to usemedical diagnostics in most instances as identified disabilities. They have to identify it by what academic area is being impacted, so your child’s dysgraphia is the culprit and is what is causing the impairment of written expression.

09/21/2016 7:30 pm

Doesn’t sound like your school system is interested in being educated, especially by a parent.

But a school district’s culture is influenced by administrators – the superintendent, building principals – these are the people you need to win over.

09/21/2016 2:20 pm

I suggest contacting your state parent training & information center to seek their help. http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center