Self-advocacy is important for kids with dysgraphia in middle school. But kids this age can sometimes feel embarrassed about speaking up. You can help your child by rehearsing some common scenarios and responses.
1. “Can I use assistive technology?”
The situation: Your child’s language arts teacher says, “I can’t accept this draft. It’s a mess and practically illegible.”
Your child can say to the teacher: “I know how to write the five-paragraph essay. But I’m having a hard time with handwriting. Do you have any thoughts on how I can show you my ideas without using handwriting? For example, could I type it or use a text-to-speech program?”
Your child can say to you or the IEP team: “Can we talk about accommodations or assistive technology that I can use to express my ideas more effectively?”
2. “Can I get a copy of the teacher’s notes?”
The situation: Your child couldn’t write fast enough to keep up with the teacher’s lecture.
Your child can say to the teacher: “It takes me a long time to write neatly, so it’s hard to take good notes. I don’t want to miss important things you say. Could I make a copy of your notes?”
Your child can say to you or the IEP team: “Can we add something to my learning plan that says I can get a copy of the teacher’s lecture notes? Or that it’s OK to record the lecture?”
3. “Can I have extra time?”
The situation: Your child couldn’t get all her thoughts organized and written on her essay test.
Your child can say to the teacher: “I know the material, but it’s hard for me to organize it and get it all down on paper quickly. Could I have extra time on essay tests?”
Your child can say to the IEP team: “Writing by hand and figuring out my thoughts is hard for me. Is there something that can help me organize my ideas?”
4. “Can I be graded on the idea and not the writing?”
The situation: Your child gets a bad grade on her science project because she misspelled so many words on the poster.
Your child can say to the teacher after class: “I know I have trouble with spelling and handwriting. But I did understand and use the scientific method correctly. Can you grade me on what I did do right? Or give me a chance to do it again with a dictionary or spelling list?”
5. “Can I do this a different way?”
The situation: Your child is struggling in social studies because she’s having trouble reading the maps in the textbook.
Your child can say to the teacher: “I’m having trouble reading the maps in the textbook. Is there a website I could use or another way I could work on this?”
Your child can say to you or the IEP team: “My ideas in social studies are good, but I’m struggling with the maps. Could you recommend anything to help me show the teacher what I know?”