Having a special needs child means, sometimes, that you concentrate so much on the ‘special needs’ aspect of everything that you actually don’t know when you cross into ‘normal kid’ territory.
Part of the Monster’s IEP and pre-K curriculum involves pre-writing activities – this segues into his OT goals (holding a pencil/writing implement for developing strength in his hand) as well as the normal school curriculum for 4 and 5 year olds.
Now, the Monster had a head start when he got to the public pre-K – he already knew the alphabet (both upper and lower case) and numbers. Identification of the same wasn’t ever a problem, so he was able to figure out what was ‘right’ in terms of their shape. Much of the last year, therefore, has been based on getting him to be able to recreate letters and numbers.
His major issue was coming into this school year with what they termed as an ‘immature grip’, meaning that he fists pencils and crayons rather than using the typical ‘tripod grip’. To be wholly fair, I had a lot of trouble with the same, and I’m by no means special needs – I spent most of elementary school with one of those silly triangular braces on my pencils so I could manage them properly. His current IEP does, however, call for them to get him up to a ‘modified tripod’, whatever that means.
This is complicated by the fact that, at almost five years old, we don’t know what handedness he’s going to display. To this point, he’s shown no preference between his hands when it comes to writing implements or, indeed, holding almost anything. Which comes to the very weird question – how do you figure out what handedness your child sports?
I’ve had a feeling for a while that the Monster’s a southpaw.
Statistically, this wouldn’t be weird – 17% of children of two right-handed parents end up being left-handed. Add to that the fact that my father’s left-handed, and there’s definitely potential genetically there for it to happen. But, given his verbal issues, it’s really not a situation where I can ask him if it’s easier for him when he holds the pencil in one hand or the other.
The only real evidence I have is when we were doing his homework last night. Part of each week’s exercises is to have him write his name a few times on the front of the homework, once with tracing over a highlighted path, and twice without any guidance. He can do the tracing with either hand… but several letters are discernibly clearer when he does the free-hand writing with his left hand.
I don’t know why, but somewhere deep down, I think I’m just more worried that we’re going to all assume he’s a lefty, and find out later that he’s not, and that we’ve been doing something to hold him back even further…