A lot of people believe a gifted child can’t also have learning difficulties. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hundreds of thousands of gifted children have additional needs – they are known as ‘twice-exceptional’ children.
One of the most common issues is dyslexia, one of the writing difficulties, which can be linked with anything from problems with handwriting (“dysgraphia”) to numbers (“dyscalculia”) or even issues with motor control (“dyspraxia”).
These difficulties can appear in a dozen different ways, and can affect all kinds of areas. However, there are some useful methods you can use to help improve writing skills.
Using sloped writing boards can be a simple but helpful change. All these do is provide the child with an angled surface on which they can write – giving their arm much more support and making it more comfortable for them to write. Although this doesn’t sound massive, it may be very useful for a child with writing problems. You can find these for purchase online, although it’s very easy to make your own at home.
Outside of handwriting, however, using technology is one of the most efficient ways you may help your child. If they’re having trouble with the speed of using a pen – one of the most common issues is the child thinking faster than they can write – then becoming familiar with a keyboard can offer what they need. It’s also incredibly easy to change size, font, and color of words when you’re typing, so you can adjust and experiment to find what’s best.
Computers also offer software that can help a child express themselves more easily. For example, ‘concept’ software lets you write your ideas in a simple form – such as mind-maps – then can convert those mind-maps into an essay structure to follow.
Other software, such as PenFriend (penfriend.biz) can predict what you’re trying to type and auto-complete words or even whole sentences. There are also programs that spot words that might be easily confused for another (such as ‘bought’ vs. ‘brought’) and offer help.
For tougher problems, there’s voice recognition software available that turns your speech directly into the text. It’s important to recognize that this is never 100% accurate, and will always require some editing. It requires some dedication to learn the system enough for it to become truly useful. Regardless of the initial hurdles, however, it can be a very useful service for young people who find it near-impossible to write.
On the other hand, you could try Text-To-Speech software that reads words on the screen out loud. Although most commonly used for the blind, there are programs specifically for dyslexics that read back any words as you type them, which can be a massive help in spotting errors (especially those that standard spell-checkers wouldn’t catch).
Whatever you choose, it’s essential that you support your child and assist in learning at his own pace. Some of what we describe above can take a long time to learn. A lot of people use examples of a very high standard – like the professional writers at papersasap.com – and expect their child to be able to write in the same way.
It can take a lot of dedication to get that far. But as long as you keep your child’s writing difficulties in mind and recognize that you might need to make changes, you’re already making a huge difference in helping them.
If you’d like to take a peek into what it’s like to be dyslexic, you can watch this video.