Podcast Season 2, Episode 19: Writer's Block Wesley: A Case Study


Wesley was brilliant in so many ways.  He could read and comprehend grade-level texts.  He understood math.  And he was reluctant to write ANYTHING!


He would sit for an hour staring at a blank page.  If anyone asked if he needed help, he’d say no, “I’m thinking.”


Spelling was difficult for him and he had fine motor difficulty as well.  I know this was PART of his writing reluctance.  It wasn’t the whole story though.


Wesley just couldn’t figure out how to put his thoughts into words.  I suspect he thought in pictures and emotions more than in words.


What worked?

It took a variety of strategies to help Wesley.


To start with, we’d supply sentence starters when he was stuck.  As he got better at it, we would question him so that he could be the one that was creating the sentence starter when answering a question.


I would also offer idea choices.  These are those suggestions that most of us are already doing.  I tried to do it based on conversations we’ve already had.


Having conversations with Wesley was very helpful.  We’d talk about the question he was trying to answer, the essay he was trying to write, or anything related that might provide information or background knowledge.  I would ask questions to get more information on the topic, and also just to try to get the ideas flowing!


I would usually scribe for Wesley, writing down for him what he was saying.  This was because he had difficulty with spelling and with fine motor tasks such as forming letters.  


These difficulties made the task of writing significantly MORE difficult by requiring concentration and use of additional skills that he hadn’t yet mastered- splitting his attention and making it harder to focus on the already difficult task of thinking about what to write!


Besides my scribing, Wesley also had access to Voice Typing whenever he wanted to use it, but this was rarely sufficient.  He needed help in getting his thoughts on what to write.


There were times, however, when all of these supports just weren’t what Wesley needed.  Sometimes, he did just need time to sit and think or for the writing assignment to be put aside for a while.  


Do you have a kiddo who struggles to come up with what to write?  What works for your child?  Please share!


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