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Question Seven: Learning Disability in Writing
I am the parent of two children with ADHD. My son particularly struggles with word retrieval, executive function challenges and a specific learning disability in writing. What programs can you recommend to help him with writing?
I feel his teachers have either ignored his disability or tried unsuccessfully to help him, and he just says I hate writing. I believe a consistent, technology based approach would help him. Can you recommend something, before he gets to the point that he will not even try because he is so frustrated and hates it so much? Thank you.
Response: You didn't mention the age of your son, but if he already says he hates writing, it's time to take a new approach. You are correct to identify the need for a systematic approach and empathetic teachers who understand that writing is a very complex cognitive challenge, especially for individuals with attention and executive function difficulties.
All the suggestions posted in our first "Ask the Expert" question may be helpful. In addition, if your son struggles with handwriting and spelling, technology such as word processing, word prediction and voice recognition will go a long way to making writing less onerous.
To address issues with word retrieval, it helps to create a word bank related to the topic at hand before attempting to get thoughts down on paper. The words can be on sticky notes or file cards or on a large piece of paper posted on the wall in front of the where the student is writing.
There are several programs that address the executive challenges of sustaining focus, effort and self-monitoring that make writing so difficult. One is DraftBuilder by Don Johnson, which integrates the use of graphic organizers and prompts to move students from generating ideas to elaborating and organizing ideas to drafting and revising in an organized way.
Another writing program designed specifically to address executive function difficulty is SQWrite.
I hope your son's teachers will welcome these suggestions.
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