For years my son struggled with creative writing. Grammar was not the issue… he understood grammar mechanics very quickly and was very adept at editing other people’s paragraphs.
But, he struggled to put his own words into written or verbal form. About 3 years ago, he started this odd speech pattern where he repeated phrases, not quite ever completing a thought, but repeating the first few words of a sentence or idea.
I kept thinking he would grow out of this difficulty. But that wasn’t the case. Instead, the situation continued to get worse. As a homeschooling mom of a gifted child, I simply couldn’t understand why spoken and written language was such a struggle for him when he had learned to read at such an early age.
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Several years ago we sought help from a speech therapist on what turned out to be a type of stutter. During that time, it was also revealed that he has social pragmatic communication disorder (SCD).
“SCD is characterized by a persistent difficulty with verbal and nonverbal communication that cannot be explained by low cognitive ability. Symptoms include difficulty in the acquisition and use of spoken and written language as well as problems with inappropriate responses in conversation. The disorder limits effective communication, social relationships, academic achievement, or occupational performance. Symptoms must be present in early childhood even if they are not recognized until later when speech, language, or communication demands exceed abilities.” — American Psychiatric Association
Communication Disorder and Creative Writing
About two years ago the speech therapist randomly asked me one day, “How’s his writing skills?” I explained that writing has always been a struggle.
He has wonderful ideas, and understands grammar and context, but simply doesn’t seem to know how to take his own ideas and thoughts and put them together in a cohesive way.
We spent YEARS trying so many different curriculum. I think many of my product reviews were done because I was trying new writing curriculum in order to solve his problem. But, time and time again those methods would end in tears for him, or me, or both. That’s because I was working to solve a symptom rather than understand that there was an underlying condition.
So when she asked about it, and then said… “I can help with that… “ I was stunned. I mean, a SPEECH therapist can help with writing struggles? That’s a thing? Yes! Because writing is a form of communication, and speech therapy focuses on communication!
What she knew that I did not was that the communication issue was based on an underlying condition. It wasn’t about his attitude, or laziness, or even an unwillingness to do the work.
She began working with him. He’d start a project for her, but never finish it. He’d write a paragraph or two but never get beyond that. But, he got interested.
He started imagining stories he wanted to write, and even outlined a book, and then a series of books. He’d start the writing, but then change the story entirely. Never completing any of his attempts at writing.
And, while this may seem to be unfruitful what I discovered was that his brain was beginning the process of learning to organize his thoughts and be able to relate them through communication.
My goal wasn’t for him to write the great American novel, but rather, to see him be able to take his knowledge and share it with others.
Since beginning speech therapy I’ve seen vast improvements in his ability to communicate. His stutter is barely noticeable, if at all. And, he has presented a few Bible devotionals at our church for the congregation. That meant he had to write, practice and deliver his lesson in a speech. They were well thought out and presented well.
Many gifted children have twice exceptionalities. Asperger syndrome, Autism, and ADHD are often diagnosed either alongside gifted abilities, and sometimes misdiagnosed.
While there are many similar characteristics between these disorders it is important to note that Social Pragmatic Disorder (SPD) doesn’t always indicate Autism, or Asperger’s Syndrome. Be sure to do some research to learn the differences.
I recommend Social Pragmatic Disorder vs Autism: What’s the Difference? by the website Great Speech.
Books for Learning More about Social Pragmatic Disorder
But, because there are shared similarities between SPD and various syndromes you might find that doing research using any of those key terms to be helpful.
- Social Skills Training by Jed Baker
- Inside the Mind by Suzanne Morris
- Social Communication Development and Disorders by Deborah A. Hwa-Froelich, editor
- Neurogenic Communication Disorders and the Life Participation Approach by Audrey L. Holland and Roberta J. Elman
How to Find Speech Therapy Help for Your Homeschool Child
If you find that your child is struggling to write, or to talk about his thoughts, and ideas in a cohesive way, you might consider seeking the professional help of a speech therapist.
There are several ways to find help when you are a homeschooler.
Speech Therapy through the Public School System
The first and most obvious way is to utilize the resources at your local public school. Because you are a taxpayer your school district, in most districts, offer support to homeschooling parents for children with special needs.
You will need to contact your school district and ask what is available, how you need to go about getting an assessment, and what their requirements are.
Children’s Hospital or Pediatric Speech Therapy
You may want to begin with your pediatrician or a local children’s hospital. Share your concerns and ask if they can recommend a speech therapist for assessment.
Be sure to check with your medical insurance to determine what costs can be covered and what your out of pocket expenses might be.
Private Speech Therapy
There are speech therapists who work one on one with families and individuals in private practice. This is the route that I went with my son.
Search the internet for a speech therapist in your area. You might also check for children’s therapy groups which offer a variety of therapy options.
Also, don’t assume your insurance will not cover expenses for a private speech therapist. Because speech therapy is a board certified profession, many insurance companies offer therapeutic interventions for both public and private practices.
Be sure to Read:
- Learning Styles You Should Know when Homeschooling Gifted
- Why Homeschooling Your Gifted Child Can be the Right Choice
Disclosure: This article is not written as professional advice. I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist, occupational or speech therapist. Thus, I am not giving advice as to your child’s diagnoses, or therapy needs. I am simply sharing my experience as a parent in the hopes that you can find any help you may need.