6 self-advocacy sentence starters for grade-schoolers with DCD

By The Understood Team

It’s important for grade-schoolers with developmental coordination disorder (DCD) to start working on self-advocacy skills. Here are some ideas you can use to help your child practice saying these kinds of things to you and to teachers.

1. “Can I get a bigger space to write in?”

Situation: Your child fails a math test because of trouble writing the answers to the problems on the correct line.

Your child can talk to the teacher after class and say: “I know the answers, but it’s hard for me to write in that small space. Can we make it bigger somehow?”

2. “Can I have more time to copy from the board?”

Situation: The teacher erases the spelling words from the board before your child can finish copying them down.

Your child can talk to the teacher after class and say: “It takes me a long time to write the spelling words down. Can I have a copy of the list to keep at my desk?”

3. “The substitute teacher doesn’t understand my challenges.”

Situation: Your child bumps into other kids in line and the substitute teacher says, “Stop clowning around.”

Your child can go up to the substitute and say: “I have trouble keeping my body in my own space. I usually stand at the front or back of the line.”

Your child can ask you to talk to the IEP team: “Can someone at school talk to substitutes ahead of time so they know I need to be at the back of the line?”

4. “Can I have a little more time to get ready for recess?”

Situation: Your child keeps missing recess time because it takes a long time to change into outdoor clothes.

Your child can speak to the teacher and say: “I’m working as fast as I can to get my stuff on, but it’s hard for me. Can I have some extra time to get ready? I don’t want to miss recess.”

Your child can ask you to talk to the IEP team: “I don’t like having to keep asking for extra time to get dressed. How can we make sure the teachers know?”

5. “Can I have some extra help with the dance moves?”

Situation: Your child is having trouble following the choreography for the annual winter concert.

Your child can talk to the music teacher after class and say: “I want to be able to do this like the other kids. Can we work on it together without the other kids around?”

Your child can talk to you or the IEP team and say: “I’m really worried about messing up at the concert. Could I stand in the back, so people won’t see if I do?”

6. “Can you help me figure out what to say to other kids about my DCD?”

Situation: Another kid asks, “Why can’t you cut along the lines in art class?”

Your child can talk to the teacher after class and say: “Kids are asking why I can’t use scissors the right way. I don’t know what to say to them. Can you help me?”

Your child can talk to you or the occupational therapist and say: “Kids are telling me I don’t know how to use scissors. Can you help me practice?”

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    About the author

    About the author

    The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Mark J. Griffin, PhD was the founding headmaster of Eagle Hill School, a school for children with specific learning disabilities.