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My son needs help with his writing

Published:Monday | March 22, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Q: My son has a serious problem with his writing. He is smart but his writing is what we used to call 'crab-toe'. I can hardly read his writing but his teacher says he answers all questions well and is very smart. He is eight; can we help him?

A: Yes, we can. Your son may have dysgraphia. This is a problem with the ability to write regardless of the person's academic ability. People with dysgraphia usually can write on some level, and often lack some fine-motor skills. It often does not affect all motor skills.Treatment for dysgraphia varies and may include treatment for motor disorders to help control writing movements. Other treatments may address memory problems or other neurological problems. Some professionals recommend that individuals with dysgraphia use computers to avoid the problems of handwriting. Ensure that he is checked by a medical professional to rule out any physical problems.

Q: How do we know if a child has experienced trauma if there are no physical symptoms?

A: A psychologist will interview the child and his family members to determine if trauma has occurred. There are specific psychological tests such as the Trauma Symptom Checklist, which would objectively guide a professional before a decision is made.

Q: My child is deaf. Can his intelligence be tested?

A: Yes. There are many intelligence tests that do not require a child to be able to speak so that you can test if he/she is intelligent or not. These tests measure the cognitive abilities of the children and can tell you if a child who cannot speak is gifted, mentally challenged or has a learning disability.

Orlean Brown-Earle, PhD, is a child psychologist and family therapist. Dr Brown Earle works with children with learning and behavioural problems throughout the island and in the Caribbean. Email questions to helpline@gleanerjm.com or send to Ask the Doc, c/o The Gleaner Company, 7 North Street, Kingston.