Innovative Interventions to Treat Children on the Autism Spectrum

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I Hate to Write!

As an occupational therapist with many years of experience working with children on the autism spectrum-including my own son, the title “I hate to Write” not only caught my eye.  I needed to find out what strategies the authors offered that would specifically address the unique needs of these students. The book’s subtitle- “Tips for Helping Students with Autism Spectrum and Related Disorders Increase Achievement, Meet Academic Standards and Become Happy, Successful Writers” describes exactly what readers will learn!

Occupational therapist Cheryl Boucher, MSEd, OTR/L and speech and language pathologist Kathy Oehler MS, CCC-SLP provide the perfect balance of information on evidence-based practices and their own strategies based on decades of experience working with students. The combined perspectives of an OT and SLP create a holistic framework for teachers to understand the challenges faced by students with an Autism Spectrum disorder (ASD)-including impaired

·        Language processing

·        Organization

·        Sensory regulation

·        Motor control

The authors explain that by the end of second grade children are expected to primarily express their knowledge through their writing rather than verbally as they did in earlier grades and to have mastered the mechanics of letter formation and spatial organization on the page. The National Common Core State Standard describes expectations for older students to perform tasks such as writing

·         Narratives

·         explanatory texts

·         longer research projects and

·         using a writing style appropriate to the task, purpose, and audience

Obviously, many students who “hate to write” struggle to achieve the early foundational and more advanced writing skills required to meet the national core standards.  Therefore, the authors begin each chapter with a 1) writing requirement, followed by 2) the teacher’s concerns such as “when I ask him to write, he just sits there” or “he writes in fragments. His writing does not make sense”.

Teacher concerns are followed by 3) the “why” – explanations of brain function that impacts sensory processing, comprehension and abilities to complete tasks. Finally, and most importantly the authors provide 4) numerous strategies arranged according to functional deficits such as

·        poor sensory regulation (i.e. provide dynamic seating or movement activity)

·        decreased motor skills (i.e. scaffold with physical supports that are gradually faced, use technology)

·        organization (i.e. use of graphic organizers such as pictures)

As one would expect, this book is well organized with a variety of adaptations and teaching options for each learning goal- so that teachers can pick the ones most suitable for the individual student. My personal favorites are the ‘Laser Power Letters’ activity and using the backward chaining technique to teach spelling.

Finally the appendices provide, yet more valuable information and resources on

·        brain function

·        glossary

·        tips for the left-handed writers

·        letter formation strategies

·        keyboarding and

·        assistive technology

Although I Hate to Write is written primarily for teachers, I think that therapists, psychologists and other professionals on the educational team will benefit from the concrete, evidenced-based information. Parents, will also appreciate learning about the types of educational strategies that are available.  I recommend this book to help those who hate to write (for whatever reason!) to academically achieve to the best of their abilities.
Order from: AAPC publishing
Amazon or directly from authors: 

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