This past fall we made the decision to seek out occupational therapy (OT) for Caroline. She was struggling a great deal with the act of writing and we also suspected she had some midline issues. With her permission, I’m going to write about our experience with occupational therapy for dysgraphia or writing problems.
We strongly believe in letting Caroline develop at her own pace. This has been true since she was born. She was very early on some milestones and on the later end of others. We simply gave her time and knew she would do things when she was ready.
We took the same approach to writing. Eventually, though, it was clear that there were issues that weren’t going to clear up simply with more time. So shortly after she turned eight, our pediatrician referred us to an excellent office nearby at our request.
OT for Dysgraphia
Caroline was very nervous about going to OT. When I asked her why, she said she was worried people would make fun of her. Not being able to write well when other kids your age can is hard. Even though she had been with me many times at my PT appointments, she was still naturally concerned with something new and unknown.
We were blessed with a wonderful occupational therapist named Jen. It took a few visits, but Caroline warmed up to her and grew to like her and OT very much. Jen’s assessment was that there were issues going on, but they were very fixable with some work.
When I asked Caroline to describe what she did at OT, she said they did drawing, coloring, puzzles, pick up activities, and swinging. She enjoyed all of the activities, but especially being able to work one-on-one with Jen. She absolutely loved the swing!
Caroline had fourteen appointments in all. At first we went weekly, then every few weeks. We also did almost daily figure eight and alphabet work at home. This involved tracing large sideways figure eights on paper in order to create more connections between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. After doing three figure eights, she would write a letter of the alphabet and say it aloud. Then she would continue with this through the entire alphabet (three figure eights and a letter). At first it was very challenging, but over time it became natural (as it should be).
Truly Remarkable Results
We are thrilled with the results. It took a bit of work for it all to kick in, but once it did the progress was significant. My hope when we started was that by the end of the school year Caroline would be writing independently and regularly. We are just about there.
In the past, Caroline would do anything and everything to avoid writing. Now she is constantly writing on her own, asking me how to spell words, etc. The week she finished OT she decided on her own she wanted to write a letter to Jane O’Connor, the author of the Fancy Nancy/Nancy Clancy books. (Caroline says to tell you she highly recommends them and she even had a Fancy Nancy birthday party once!) I was so thrilled for her that writing was something she wanted to do now and it no longer overwhelmed her.
I’ve wondered if we should have sought out help sooner, but I honestly think we did it at the right time. The way everything fell in place in terms of getting the referral, getting an appointment right away, insurance paying for almost all of it (since we had maxed out our deductible with my issues), and the desire on Caroline’s part to fix what she knew was a problem indicates to me that we did it at the right time.
I’m so thankful. Issues with writing hold a child back in almost every area. I’m so glad for Caroline’s sake that she took on this challenge and overcame it.
Dysgraphia: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Dysgraphia and Helping a Dysgraphic ChildSmart but Scattered: The RevolutionaryThe Dysgraphia Sourcebook: Everything You Need to Help Your ChildDysgraphia: Your Essential GuideTerrific Teddy’s Writing Wars (Understanding Learning Differences) (Volume 3)Smart but Scattered Teens: TheTeaching Students with Dyslexia and Dysgraphia: Lessons from Teaching and ScienceWhen Writing’s a Problem: Understanding Dysgraphia and Helpful Hints for Reluctant WritersHelping Students with Dyslexia and Dysgraphia Make Connections: Differentiated Instruction Lesson Plans in Reading and Writing