It’s almost time for the new year to begin, which means “reading, writing and ‘rithmetic” for everyone~ at school, at home and at church. For some students who have disabilities, writing can be a tedious and frustrating task. This can be attributed to any number of issues: visual-motor integration, problems with attention, sequential or spacing issues, and language disabilities are just a few. (for a great article on reasons why kids struggle with writing, see Dr. Mel Levine’s article, Misunderstood Minds from PBS.)
Whatever the underlying issue may be, neatness is a common “symptom.” Although handwriting is not often a top priority in today’s tech-laden, keyboarding world, kids are still asked to complete handwritten assignments on a fairly regular basis. When students struggle with this, they become acutely aware that their papers don’t look as nice as their peers’; poorly formed letters and eraser smudges make their papers look sloppy. Although we might argue that some of the world’s brightest minds produce the messiest handwriting, the fact remains that turning in a pretty paper is important to children.
One way to assist students in this endeavor is by offering raised-line paper. The lines on this paper are embossed, which raises them slightly. This provides both visual and tactile cues for students who have difficulty with letter formation, spacing and “staying in the lines.” As students write, they will “feel” the lines both with their fingers and through the motion of their pencils. This may help students to form letters and words more accurately, increasing their feeling of success with writing tasks.
When using this kind of tool in your classroom, it’s best to provide it for everyone if possible. This will help class projects or bulletin boards to look uniform in appearance. More importantly, kids with disabilities will have an opportunity to see that they are using the same materials as their peers. Already acutely aware that they struggle with writing, they don’t need to be self-conscious about using different paper than everyone else. In order to save money, kids can use scrap paper or regular paper for writing or dictating rough drafts, and then use the raised-line paper for final copies if necessary.
Raised line paper can be found at The Therapy Shoppe, Beyond Play, and on Pacific Pediatric Supply. ** Simply write “raised line paper” in the search engine on each website to get pricing and shipping information.
Wishing you prolific writing in your classrooms this year…along with pretty papers, and most importantly, proud kids.
**Please note: This post is not an endorsement of any websites, authors, or products.
Well put, Katie. For those schoolteachers out there, graph paper is very helpful when kids with dysgraphia are adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing two and three digit numbers.
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Dear Katie – I am struggling to get my 8 year old special needs daughter to formulate the shapes. She can follow the aids i.e the dotted lines well but as soon as she is asked to copy that she is struggling to understand the shape.
We are in Zimbabwe with little access to resources and I would appreciate any help.
Hey Colleen~ Thanks so much for your comment. I’d love to know more about your daughter so I can recommend some strategies that would be suited specifically to her strengths and needs. Please email me at email@example.com and we’ll put our heads together!