5 self-advocacy sentence starters for grade-schoolers with dysgraphia

By Amanda Morin

Speaking up for yourself can be hard when you’re in grade school. But self-advocacy is an important skill for even young kids with dysgraphia. You can help by practicing these sentence starters.

1. “Can I use another way to show what I know?”

The situation: Your child’s book report sounds vague and confused, even though your child read — and loved — the book.

Before the due date, your child can say to the teacher: “I read the book, and I know what happened. I’m having trouble getting my thoughts onto the paper. Is there another way I can tell you about the book?”

Your child can say to you or the IEP team: “I need help writing the important parts of a book report. Can my teacher show me how to do that?”

2. “Can I have a little extra time?”

The situation: The whole class is ready to leave gym, but your child holds up everyone else because it takes longer to tie sneakers.

Your child can say to the teacher: “I’m going as fast as I can, but it takes time for me to tie my shoes. Can I have a few extra minutes at the end of class?”

Your child can say to you or the IEP team: “I don’t like having to keep asking for extra time to get dressed. Can you ask if the gym teacher will let me wear sneakers without tie laces?”

3. “Can I have more space to write in?”

The situation: Your child’s math homework is illegible because of all the erasing, cross-outs, and slanting numbers.

Your child can say to the teacher after class: “It’s hard for me to write in that small space. Is there a different kind of paper I can use?”

4. “Can I be graded on the idea and not the writing?”

The situation: Your child gets a bad grade on a science project because there were so many misspelled words in the write-up.

Your child can say to the teacher: “I had trouble with the spelling, but I did the experiment right. Can you grade me on what I did right or give me a vocabulary list so I can redo it?”

5. “Can you help me with a problem?”

The situation: A classmate says to your child, “Why do you go with Mrs. Smith during writing time?”

Your child can say to the teacher after class: “Kids are asking why I leave with Mrs. Smith for writing. I don’t know what to say. Can you help me?”

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    About the author

    About the author

    Amanda Morin is the director of thought leadership at Understood and author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.” She worked as a classroom teacher and early intervention specialist for more than a decade.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Jim Rein, MA has lectured on postsecondary options and summer programs for kids and young adults with learning and thinking differences.