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Teaching the Learner with Special Needs

in the General Classroom

Assignment Two
Case Study

Carly Notley
Part One Introduction and Outline of the Special Needs
This report will analyse a student within a year three classroom, whom was studied throughout the
course of placement for the purpose of this assignment. The child will go by the name of Jack; Jack
is in grade three and is nine years of age. Jack attends a prestigious private school located in the
South Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. His entire family attended the school from pre-prep to
graduating in year twelve, including both of his parents. Jack has two older brothers in year nine
and year twelve; he is the youngest of three boys. Throughout the course of placement Jack and his
family travelled to the snow to compete in competitions on the weekend, requiring him to leave
school early every Friday afternoon. After consulting with my mentor teacher, she had severe
concern for his grades, as he was already struggling with the workload. This concern was expressed
to his parents; at the conclusion of my placement as my mentor teacher and I had a meeting with
his parents to discuss the impact it has on his grades. Throughout the course of my placement I was
unfortunately unable to collect school policy documents, as they were private and confidential
material. Being an independent school they advised that they dont send out that form of
information, due to copyright laws.

With consultation with my mentor teacher and the schools psychologist, they had both determined
that Jack had a learning disability, which was characterised as dysgraphia and a slight case of
dyslexia. However for the purpose of this assignment, I will be looking at dysgraphia as this learning
disability has more of a substantial effect on his academic ability. Versa (1983) defines dysgraphia
to be a written language learning disability that provides a negative impact on the formation of the
students personality within the primary school environment. Children who experience dysgraphia
have significant difficulties with their motor and processing skills, which make it difficult for the
learner to put their thoughts to paper, even when they are able to understand the content
(Pechman, 2010). Furthermore Lupuleac (2014) states that dysgraphia severely affects the students
written word, as they have developed inadequate fine motor skills, making it difficult for the
student to develop their literacy skills. Deaul (1995) articulates how dysgraphia originally was
associated with dyslexia; many scientists believed that it was a different component of the
disorder. However, it has now been differentiated from that component and is recognised as a
writing disorder, represented in the learners spelling and handwriting ability (Adi-Japha et al. 2007).
Fletcher-Flinn (2016) articulates a study that reported an individual with dysgraphia can be at a
normal range in reading, although be well below the spelling expectation. This characteristic was
evident in Jacks schooling from grade one, he is able to read with fluency, however experiences
difficult with spelling. Lupuleac (2014) explains that dysgraphia essentially has a negative impact on
the students schooling success, as they are unable to keep up with the written tasks and
expectations. This type of disability requires attention within the classroom, either provided by a
teachers aid or within a support group, as the student will experience long lasting negative
consequences within their schooling (Crouch and Jakybecy, 2007).

During the course of my placement I was able to analyse Jacks behaviour over the two weeks, I
identified a range of characteristics that strongly supported his diagnosis of dysgraphia. Throughout
his worked samples, there were random lower and capital letters placed within a sentence.
Additionally, he experienced great difficulties when writing within a lined notebook, as he had to
focus on writing on the line. My mentor teacher would often allow Jack to write on a plain piece of
paper, as the lines would cause him distress, however the psychologist suggested the
implementation of lined paper within his individual activities may benefit his condition.
Furthermore, his writing was well below average with regular spelling mistakes and would often
complain about pain in his hand and wrist when writing. These characteristics are evidently
associated with dysgraphia, however he was formally diagnosed late 2014. There are various
characteristics that are identifiable for students who have dysgraphia, however it is essential to
consider if a student portrays these characteristics they arent necessarily diagnosed with the
relevant learning disability. It is vital that the student participate in testing to receive a formal
diagnosis from the relevant professional. Furthermore Pechman identifies common characteristics
that can be identified in the early stages of its development. It can be represented as poor
handwriting; they can experience difficulties with the sizing of letters and writing their letters on
the line (Pechman, 2014). The student also may have an awkward pencil grip; additionally they
twist their body uncomfortably and get tired during writing and drawing activities (Pechman, 2014).
Pechman (2014) articulates that students with dysgraphia often rush writing activities so they are
able to get it over with and they actively avoid writing if possible.

Jack often appears embarrassed of his learning disability, as he frequently hides his work from his
peers and avoids answering questions. However, in terms of his social needs. He has a broad range
of friends within his year level and doesnt appear to experience issues out in the playground.
Although, his learning disability affects his emotional state as he often becomes frustrated with
himself as he is unable to write his ideas on paper. This also has developed a poor self-image for
himself, where he has come to grow a hate towards his schooling and calls him self stupid and
dumb on a regular basis. In terms of his learning needs, his teacher has altered his workload
where his expectations are below standard and has an extended amount of time to complete the
task. For example; the class would be asked to compete a spelling test every Friday, whereas Jack
would only have to spell five of the thirty words and he would commence other activities while the
students continue.

Part Two Classroom Environment and Observations

10-Minute Observation with Links to Selected Disorder
Observation Notes Link to Dysgraphia
Covering his work Poor self-image doesnt believe in his
Continuously changing his response to the Poor self-image doesnt believe in his
question answers/responses.
Scratching head x18 Disengaged with writing activity
Playing with stationary x10 Disengaged with writing activity
Shaking legs cant sit still Disengaged with writing activity
Pretending he knows the answer, puts his Poor self-image doesnt believe in his
hand up and says he forgot his answer. answers/responses.
Begins the task early, so he has more time to Rushing to finish the writing activity as it
complete the task. frustrates him.
Yawning x 6 Getting extremely tired when writing
Looking at others work and compares it Poor self-image doesnt believe in his
Swings legs cant sit still Disengaged with writing activity
Writing is messy and not on the line Poor handwriting, difficulty sizing letters and
keeping them on the line.
Sitting awkwardly Twisting the body uncomfortably disengaged
Stretching wrist x13 Difficulty with fine motor skills
Continuously erasing his answers Excessive erasures
Staring at the table Disengaged with writing activity
Relies on the slideshow for spelling Poor self-image doesnt believe in his
Covers his work from peers embarrassed Poor self-image doesnt believe in his
Whispers his answers to the teacher Poor self-image doesnt believe in his
Finishes the work early but doesnt want to Rushing to get the writing activity over with
read it back and check for mistakes. Quickly and actively avoids the task.
(Pechman, 2014)
Part Three- Recommendations
With discussion with my mentor teacher in regards to where Jack is seated, I believe it is the best
position to be placed within the classroom. It is clear from any possible distractions outside as he is
away from windows; he is also placed in the front row ensuring the teacher is able to keep him
engaged throughout. By placing him at the end of the row this ensures that he is clear from any
possible disruptions, additionally he is seated with his best friends and they often support each
others educative strengths and weaknesses. With the support of his best friend and being
positioned away from distractions provides an optimal physical environment for Jack within the
classroom. Furthermore, there are many common strategies that can improve Jacks learning within
an educational setting. These strategies include the use of writing paper with raised lines, providing
additional time for writing tasks and reduce the amount of writing tasks within his individual
education plan (Kay, 2007). The learner will also benefit by encouraging them to correct their pencil
grip, posture and constantly utilising hand exercises when the student begins to show signs of
fatigue (Learning Disabilities Association of America, n.d). Key strategies that can be utilised in the
classroom can include the use of a word processor; additionally the encouragement for the learner
to partake in oral exams, providing valuable benefits for their learning, as they are able to
communicate their ideas vocally (National Center for Learning Disabilities, 2007). There are many
key strategies that can be utilised within the classroom to support a student with dysgraphia,
however it essentially is centred on the teachers resilience and patience towards the learner. Once
the learner recognises that the teacher is agitated, they become frustrated and upset with
themselves unable to progress with their work (National Center for Learning Disabilities, 2007).
Adi-Japha, E., Landau, Y. E., Frebkel, L., Teicher, M., Gross-Tsur, V., Shalev, R. S. 2007, ADHD and
Dysgraphia: Underlying Mechanisms, Bar-Illan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel. Accessed 5 September

Crouch, A. L. and Jakubecy, J. J. 2007, Dysgraphia: How It Affects A Students Performance and
What Can Be Done About It. Teaching Exceptional Children Plus, 3, (3), P. 1-13, Education Source.
Accessed 12 September via Deakin Library Database.

Deaul, R. K. 1995, Developmental Dysgraphia and Motor Skills Disorders. J. Child Neurol. 10 (1).
Accessed 5 September 2016 via

Fletcher-Flinn, C. M. 2016, Developmental Dysgraphia as a Reading System and Transfer Problem: A

Case Study, Frontiers in Psychology, School of Psychology, The University of Auckland, Auckland,
New Zealand. Accessed 5 September 2016 via Deakin University Library Catalogue

Kay, M. J. 2007, What is dysgraphia? Accessed 17 September 2016 via

Learning Disabilities Associations of America, n.d. Dysgraphia. Accessed 17 September 2016


Lupuleac, V. 2014, Physical Education for the Correction of Dysgraphia in Primary School
Pupils [Educaia fizic n corectarea disgrafiei la elevii din clasele primare], Palestrica of the
Third Millennium Civilization & Sport, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 122-126. Accessed 12 September
2016 via Deakin Library Database.

National Center for Learning Disabilities, 2007. Dysgraphia, Accessed 17 September 2016 via

Pechman, RR 2010, 'D is for..', Scholastic Parent & Child, 18, 2, p. 93, MasterFILE Premiere.
Accessed 8 September 2016 via Deakin Library Database.

Versa, E. 1983, Dizgrafia si terapia ei. In Lupuleac, V. 2014, Physical Education for the
Correction of Dysgraphia in Primary School Pupils [Educaia fizic n corectarea disgrafiei la
elevii din clasele primare], Palestrica of the Third Millennium Civilization & Sport, vol. 15, no.
2, pp. 122-126. Accessed 12 September 2016 via Deakin Library Database.