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cutiecrystalmom
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27 Apr 2011, 11:25 pm

Do any of your kiddos have problems with creative writing? My son (8.5) just can't get the sentences formed in his head or on paper without major prompting and guiding. For example, his assignment at school today was to pick a grade three class at any school in Canada and write them a letter. First he got stuck on finding a school and then he just couldn't get going after that. He ended up in the hallway crumpling up his paper. Tonight I told him about the school I went to in Grade three and our family's history there, but pretty much had to prompt him all the way through the letter (I scribed it for him). Last week he had to write a paragraph describing "happy" and using key words such as laughing, jumping up and down, etc. He didn't even know where to start, even when given suggestions of events that happened where he was quite happy! We ended up doing another Mario comic that incorporated all the words he needed. We don't have any support in the classroom other than the teacher, who is doing his best, but I think the patience is starting to run out. We already know he has written output issues, processing speed delays and his fine motor skills (printing) are very delayed. He is given the opportunity to use the computer and have some scribing, but the problem is he just doesn't know where to start.

Any suggestions on how to convince the school to give him more "concrete" writing assignments that he has a frame of reference for? Or maybe just let me know I'm not alone with these challenges with writing? thanks in advance.

cutiecrystalmom



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28 Apr 2011, 12:59 am

This isn't really all that uncommon for children his age. If it's just that he can't organize the thoughts in his head, translate his feelings to words, has anxiety that he won't do well, or some or all of the above.

It might help him to read more books.



DW_a_mom
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28 Apr 2011, 1:15 am

If he doesn't have to follow a prompt, can he create a story? If so, he has the elements for creative writing, just as my son always did. The problems probably are (a) having to create a story about something he can't relate to or is completely uninterested in, (b) having to do this at a specific time and not when the muse has visited, and (c) having to go through the multi-task process of recording to paper.

To help him learn to write you eliminate as many of the obstacles as you can, and slowly put them back in when he seems ready. Allow him to dictate instead of write, reduce the rigidity of the parameters, and so on.

At least, that is how it was approached with my son, and he now writes to prompts very well. Because we knew he had the imagination, it was pretty obvious the creative part wasn't the problem.


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psychohist
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28 Apr 2011, 1:38 am

cutiecrystalmom wrote:
Last week he had to write a paragraph describing "happy" and using key words such as laughing, jumping up and down, etc.

Did they specify those key words? That seems rather unreasonable. What about people who get jumping up and down mad, but are only happy when they can be quiet and contemplative?

And when would anyone have occasion to write letters to complete strangers they know nothing about, in real life?

I agree, more concrete writing assignments would make more sense. Have you tried talking to the teacher?



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28 Apr 2011, 3:04 am

DW_a_mom wrote:
If he doesn't have to follow a prompt, can he create a story? If so, he has the elements for creative writing, just as my son always did. The problems probably are (a) having to create a story about something he can't relate to or is completely uninterested in, (b) having to do this at a specific time and not when the muse has visited, and (c) having to go through the multi-task process of recording to paper.


This is my problem. I write stories and am naturally a creative person. I love writing, writing is my life. I'd die if I couldn't write. If I couldn't write down the million ideas in my head everyday, I'd go insane.
However, when I am given a very short, abstract prompt I'm stumped. I feel restrictive in my creativity. I feel I am forced to write something I really don't care about or I feel restrictive on how I should write.

My brother, J bird 14, has a different problem entirely. He likes words. A little to much. He will repeat words he likes alot. And won't get anything done because he fixates to much on the sounds of the words and the words themselves. His writing assignment end up being incoherent messes of sentences being repeated over and over again. Without assistance, his essay would look like word vomit. I mean he has some amazing ideas. But he stammers in writing.

My suggestion for your son is to allow him to have fun with the assignment. Its how I got through school. Yeah, the teachers didn't like it. But I was tired of being stuck. I fed loopholes through them and they coulnd't go against me.

Like I remember one essay "Write your Opinion on Heroes". Well the assignment isn't concrete enough. It just write my opinion. If I write a differing view from the norm, technically I'm following the assignment.

"Find a school and try to write a letter to them", I'd choose the school I am in now. Dear [insert school] I tried finding the best of the three choices you gave me. However, none of them suited my fancy....

You get the point. Sometimes you have to twist logic around for your own entertainment and creativity. Feeling less restricted.



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28 Apr 2011, 12:24 pm

At age 8, this can be difficult for many kids, so it's hard to know whether this is a disorder of written expression, or whether it's something else. Some people find graphic organizers, like Kidspiration, very helpful. Others find that it is necessary for a child to get the support of a speech and language pathologist who is skilled at working with students who struggle with written expression - this is a discrete area of speech and language pathology, and some speech and language pathologists are extremely skilled at working with people who struggle in this area.

If the school does not realize how much you are doing, at home, to support your son's writing, they might not realize how much support your son requires. You might need to make them aware of how much you do. You might even need to stop doing it - unless it is specified in his IEP, and he is getting appropriate, similar support in school. It is not fair to him (or to you) for him to get so much support at home that his disabilities become invisible or minimized at school. If you wind up providing him with so many accommodations at home, that school can ignore the issues your son struggles with, your son will suffer more in the long run.



Caitlin
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28 Apr 2011, 3:47 pm

It's extremely common for aspies to struggle with conventional ways of creative writing. If your son is struggling with creative writing at school on more than one occasion, you should discuss making modifications to his assignments. Breaking the creative writing process down into small steps that are predictable regardless of the assignment will also help a lot.


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cutiecrystalmom
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28 Apr 2011, 4:11 pm

thank you, thank you, thank you - your replies are exactly what I needed to hear! He does have creativity in him, in fact, he will on his own sit down at the computer and write a story when he is "in the mood" :) However, writing assignments at school seem to have an element of vagueness to them.

I had asked the teacher yesterday if he could write a letter to his cousin who is in Kindergarten instead, and was told that it had to be to a grade three class. It took a tremendous amount of patience and coaxing on my part to come up with the idea to write to the school I went to. It turned into a bit of a family history lesson as many of our family members went to the same school, and my grandmother also taught grade three there. We even tracked down a photo of her with her class and included it in the letter. I certainly got more buy-in from my son once he was presented with an option that he thought was pretty neat.

To the teacher's credit, he did speak with the Learning Assistance teacher after school yesterday and she did indicate that this is an area where we know my kid struggles and that "abstract" or tasks that really have no meaning to my son are going to be met with more resistance. Lately though, the resistance is increasing and it is becoming more of an issue. I don't think the solution is to stick him in the hallway to complete his work, because they've just given him the ultimate reward for his avoidance of the task.

I like the comment from jat regarding the fact that perhaps I am doing too much with my son at home with his schoolwork. I think I do too much. However, he is not completing the work at school and the assignments don't really change. I am always adapting and modifying because I want my son to do his work and keep up with the class - but you are right, when I do this for him, the school doesn't have to.

We finally have an IEP meeting coming up - this is the creation of the IEP for this year (pulling my hair out with the timing, but whatever). I will bring this up as an issue, because I certainly do NOT want to be doing homework like this for the rest of my life! And the school needs to come up with strategies of their own to help him too. I will hear the same old "we don't have a designation so we can't provide support in class" but the fact is, he might not have a designation next year either, so maybe they'd better start looking at ways they can help him. And so help me, if I go into this meeting next week and hear the case manager say "I just can't figure this kid out" again (it's how every almost monthly meeting starts), I might well get quite angry and remind them it is their job to make an effort to understand him provide him with an education!

As far as modifications to the assignments, I think all they have really done is reduce the quantity of work he is required to do, but not really modified the assignments per se. I did ask that for maths he should be able to use a multiplication chart for multiplying and dividing versus having to draw out arrays and objects to "show his work". I also asked for two "handprint" drawings to be placed on his desk for skip counting (my son doesn't coordinate his fingers well to do this on his own), but (surprise) that hasn't been done.

Okay thanks for letting me vent, and thank you again for all the great information and support.

cutiecrystalmom



Caitlin
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28 Apr 2011, 5:59 pm

If your son's teacher wouldn't let him write to a kindergartener rather than a 3rd grader, when that is a modification that would have helped him achieve the desired learning outcome, then you are likely going to have to educate that teacher in an ongoing way.

The key is to ensure his teachers are all on the same page in terms of a) accepting the fact that your son thinks and learns differently, and b) are willing to make modifications - of any reasonable kind - as long as the desired learning outcome is still achieved. I would address this specific issue in the IEP meeting and gain their agreement on this, because it is a fundamental basis for nearly everything your son will do.


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