Teaching your child with special needs how to write.

I wanted to share a great tip for teaching your child with special needs how to write.  When you break down the actual action of writing, you break it down into vertical lines, horizontal lines, and circles.

Parker is perfectly capable of making lines and circles.

Unfortunately he would rather throw his writing utensil rather than use it.

Drives. Me. Nuts.

Recently Parker’s OT through Alpine School District told me that Parker clocks in at about an 18 month old in regards to fine motor skills.  I’d comment further, but this is a family blog.

So I’m doing what Special Needs Mamas the world over do when the so called (ahem) experts tell them their child will never be able to do something……….

I’m taking matters in my own hands.

a white board marker with velcro dots for sensory experiences

We are using a simple student sized white board.  You could use paper if you wanted.  The white board just means that I don’t have to worry about running out of paper.

I purchased a set of square handled white board markers.  Then I put the rough sided velcro dots where Parker’s forefinger and thumb needs to go.  The extra sensory for him is a good thing, plus I don’t have to continually rediscover those sweet spots, I just need to look where the velcro dots are.

pre writing skills idea


I put green dots at the top of where the vertical line will begin, and another at where it will end. This lends itself to a lot of goodness, such as a visual reminder for Parker as to what a vertical line is, plus where it stops and starts.  We also talk a lot about ‘up’ and ‘down’ as we make these lines.

ideas to teach your child how to write

I’d do the same thing with horizontal lines, except switching up where the dots would go.

From Parker’s beloved Miss Linda:

Do the vertical line first, then the horizontal line going left to right, then a slant left and a slant right then a circle starting at the top going counter clockwise. That will cover all the alphabet strokes. Be sure you have clear defining beginning and ending spots.

After Parker completes a board of lines, he has to erase his work himself.   This in itself is a bit of OT thrown in for extra measure.  It also reinforces the idea that you clean up after yourself when you are done.

Ideas to entice your child with special needs to write

As a reward for finishing a board of lines, he gets to play with is mardi gras beads.  I like finding ones that match the seasons and holidays.  I grabbed these 4th of July ones from Hobby Lobby using my 40% off coupon.

Yes, I’m cheap and I’m proud of it.

After a minute or so of reward time, Parker is expected to give the beads back and get to work again.  We use a set of verbal commands for this with our hands open to receive the beads.

1.  Parker, it’s time to work,  give me the beads please.

2.  Parker, give me the beads, please.

3. Give me the beads.

If he listens the first time, then I don’t need to use the next two commands.  If not, then I move on to #2 and so on.  Surprisingly enough this has worked wonders for him not hucking the beads across the room instead of giving them back.

You have to do this several times a day.  It’s takes effort and time and there will be days when you would rather gnaw your toes off instead of repeating this exercise again.  And again.  And again.

One day you’ll notice that your kid is beginning to draw the line himself.  Yes, you may still need to tape the marker to his hand (no, this isn’t child abuse, it’s what you’ve got to do sometimes) but by golly, the lines….. he’s drawing the lines on his own free will.

And you are so planning on posting this accomplishment on your Facebook page that you know several of your OT’s co-workers read.

Yes, we Special Needs Mamas absolutely will tell someone we told them so.  Doctors.  Teachers.  Neighbors.  Therapists. Complete strangers.  It matters not.  A sacred line is crossed when you blow off my kid.

To paraphrase Scarlett O’Hara, With all of Parker’s blog readers as our witnesses, my kid WILL be making his straight line letters by the end of the summer.

Never underestimate the potential of my kid with special needs……or his Mama either.


  1. Kerry May 29, 13
  2. Cheryl boucher Jun 4, 13
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