Hi and welcome to Ask Missy Mondays where I respond to a question from readers. Today’s question comes from Angela who is the mother of a 3rd grader with a diagnosis of autism. Angela asks,
“Hi Missy, I have been reading your blog for a while. Thanks for all the help and advice you provide to us as parents. I’m writing now because I have come to a crossroad for my child. Chris has responded brilliantly to ABA and is doing very well in many areas. He is reading on grade level, he is doing math on grade level, and he is above grade level in science. He continues to struggle with fine motor skills which is common among children in this population. As you probably know, in third grade, children learn to write in cursive. Chris tried this for the first two days but it is going to take him a long time to master the entire alphabet. Who knows how long it will take him to put letters together to form words? What do you think about this? Should we keep working on this even if it means he may fall behind in reading and math? Thanks in advance for your help on this.”
Hi Angela, and thanks for writing. It is ironic that you emailed with this question. One of my current clients went through this exact issue just a few weeks ago. As a supervisor, I always take the family preferences in to consideration.
Right away, the first thing I would do is ask the parent (in this case, it is you), “How important is it for you for your child to learn to write in cursive?”
The next question I ask is, “If your child does not learn to do this skill, will it be socially stigmatizing for him?” In this same area, I have to also ask, “Is it going to be socially stigmatizing for him to learn how to do this skill? Will his friends laugh at him if he doesn’t learn it as fast as they do?”
Essential Life Skill
The next question I ask is, “Is this skill essential for your child to do in order to be independent?”. Some skills are absolutely necessary. Handwriting is not one of those essential skills. I cannot tell you the last time I wrote in cursive. Even my signature is a scribble more than a signature. So, your child will need to learn to sign his name but he is allowed some creativity in doing this. I honestly don’t think the majority of people use proper D’Nealian when signing important documents.
I hope this helped to answer your question, Angela. I also want to point you to some other blogs on this same topic (listed below) as you may find them helpful too.
If you have a behavioral question for me email me directly at askmissy at applied behavioral strategies dot com. Thanks!
- Is Cursive Handwriting Dead? (robincoyle.wordpress.com)
- State Board of Education will debate role of cursive handwriting on curriculums (kansascity.com)
- Mass. Among States To Still Require Cursive In Schools (boston.cbslocal.com)