Sunday, November 8, 2009

When was the last time you wrote something by hand?

Today I had a meeting with Matthew's teacher(s). Now that they have been going to school for over two months, he has brought home glowing reports twice. But his teachers and his parents (all three of us) agreed that we had to address some issues.

Matthew and Justin were preemies, Justin was the smaller one. He also suffered a stroke shortly after birth that resulted in some mild CP and he has an unrelated hearing loss, which was corrected with aids from 4 months of age and surgically at 2 and 3 years of age. He received services at the Pető Institute and conductors in region (here is an article about an American family that came out to Pető) from birth, and his speech-language-hearing training began at the same time he received his first hearing aids. Through the years he qualified for fewer and fewer services, and he has always been in mainstream education. After our move to Budapest he attended a Jewish pre-school where the alefbet was taught early on, and he learnt to read both Hungarian and English to 1st and 2nd grade level when he was 5.

My kid excells in reading and math. He behaves really well. He participates in class work and he religiously uses his hearing aids--he only needs them in the classroom--so he won't miss anything. He loves talking about his Krav Maga and dance classes, both of which he loves, even if he is not the best dancer out there. He has also improved socially and he loves, loves, LOVES school.

But... yes, you knew there was a but. Matthew has major trouble using a pencil. After two months he still can't draw a straight standing line with a decent sized pencil. Well, mostly any pencil. He has major trouble holding one for long, as his hand starts to cramp, stiffen and just generally... it's torture for him. He can read cursive, he can fingerpaint letters, it's not that he doesn't know them. He just can't WRITE them.

We keep working on his hand muscles, and yes, the idea of using his other hand has come up - Matthew is left dominant; actually he is so left dominant that his heart is on the right side. :-D But that really is not an option at this point, as his right hand is a LOT more spastic than his left.

His teacher is very concerned abiut his inability to write. Yet when I asked her when it was the last time she wrote something by hand that wasn't for her class, she started to think. Yeah, exctly my point. My kid can type. He types way better than I do. He will eventually learn to write. It will take time. And it will take a lot of work. I hope, I pray that we will get some good pointers in Budapest later this month.


  1. Oh, Hevel, I am sorry to hear of Matthew's problems...Here's my two cents: I am sure in Budapest they will be able to recommend you some form of therapy - exercises and such and I also think it is best to leave him use his left hand. I am a left hand dominant and because in ceausescu'c schools they never heard of left dominants, I was forced to use my right hand, and it was (still is kind of confusing). And I also had big troubles with penmanship. Like, BIG troubles. And, belive it or bot, today I prefer to write by hand and not to type.
    So, leave the kid alone, he'll come through...

  2. Na, az ilyesmiben semmi tapasztalatom...
    Remélem a Petőben majd mondanak valami okosat nektek!
    Színezni, rajzolni nem szeret Matt? Az gondolom segít ha kötetlenebb formában gyakorol.

  3. I kind of feel like an idiot now. I always thought Matthew was the one with the hearing troubles.
    I truly loved your comeback to the teacher. How often does anyone really write anything any more?
    I know with your determination, your kids will over come any obstacles.
    HUGS, Jon

  4. Oh dear. I'm certain they could make some sort of plan in the future for typed not written exams. I'm thinking of the extra tools and props hearing or sight impaired students can use. Surely, in the name of equal treatment, it wouldn't be out of the question to use a writing or typing prop.

  5. Bozót, he uses crayons, but you hold them different from pencils. He has large markers and postairon sized pencils which he uses, but doesn't like them.

    Jon, it is still an academic concern if he can't learn to write now, plainly because... yea. It's necessary.

    Ramona, no, we won't force him to write right handed, but he might switch over if it will be easier for him.

    Emm, equal treatment? LOL. Seriously. This is not exactly THAT country. We will get adjustments as long as we have cooperative teachers. He will need to lern to write somewhow before we lose the current teacher in 3rd grade or it's off to special school.

    I do have faith in finding a solution with the conductors in Budapest!

  6. My daughter's first grade teacher was Mr. Klein. This was a wonderful advantage for little kids, many of whom are in need of a strong male role model. He had a lot of empathy for young BOYS who generally have more trouble with fine motor tasks, specifically hand-writing. He was absolutely convinced that the keyboard would equalize things...and this was 25 years ago!!

    I'll be interested to hear more. How does Matthew FEEL about this challenge?

  7. Awww, that's a pity. It is such a hard situation too... I have CP palsy friends that have gone to both special needs schools and been mainstreamed and they both did exceptionally well. I guess it is what at home that matters and you seem to be doing fantastically well with your kids.



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