Autism Advocate, individual with ASD
By Kelly Mahler
My first impression of this book—incredible! I HATE TO WRITE gives the reader a very comprehensive view of writing difficulties often experienced by individuals with ASD. There can be so many underlying factors impacting writing success; it can often be overwhelming to figure out how to help students with ASD reach their full writing potential. This book has a nice way of dissecting the underlying skills needed to be a successful writer—emphasizing the sensory, motor, language and organization demands of writing. I HATE TO WRITE provides many typical Teacher Concern areas such as “He can verbalize his answers and thoughts, but can’t get them on paper” or “His writing is so small and floats above the lines” or “He seems to be listening, but sometimes he completely misunderstands the assignment”. Following each Teacher Concern, there is an explanation of `why’ that writing difficulty may occur and evidence-based teaching strategies to support that particular skill area. Finally there are `Take it and Use It’ forms following every Teacher Concern. They can be copied and used right away in the classroom!! That is really convenient. This resource is a must-have for anyone wishing to make the writing process easier and more successful for individuals with ASD!!
I wish more books were laid out like this. Each section presents a different problem which the student may or may not be having. It then gives an explanation for what is causing the problem, a plan for helping the student, and even sample worksheets/trackers. You easily find and use what you need and skip over the sections that you don’t. Perfect for any educator or parent who wants to help their student on the spectrum!
Writing is challenging for my child. This book has offered me many strategies to help him write for school. We use the “Film Strip Paragraph” worksheet every time he has to write. It helps him organize his thoughts into sentences. I was also so happy to have the Occupational Therapy’s suggestions. Doing some physical exercises before writing really seems to help him focus. Thank you for this valuable resource.
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
* 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
* 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
* 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.
Barbara A. Smith, M.S., OTR/L is author of The Recycling Occupational Therapist and From Rattles to Writing: A Parent’s Guide to Hand Skills