In today's episode, Kelli Fetter, owner of Handwriting Solutions, shares how the discovery of her daughter's dysgraphia has changed the trajectory of her life. https://www.handwritingsolutions.org/post/developmental-teaching-order
She offers a free 15-minute consultation.
Reach out to Kelli at Handwriting Solutions Freebie: Developmental Teaching Order
If you are listening to the episode after November 2022, check out the replay in the Community.
Learn more about Cheri
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What is The Writing Glitch: Hack Dysgraphia No Pencil Required?
The Writing Glitch is brought to you by Dotterer Educational Consulting. Our Founder and Owner, Cheri Dotterer, is the host.
Build clarity, community, and competency to help students thrive and grow leaders that transcend a lifetime, regardless of dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia, using sensory-motor processing and neuroscience-based instructional interventions. No Pencil Required!
We interview teachers, therapists, and parents about how they have seen a transformation in children having these disabilities and co-morbid conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). They share how they help students grow and prosper.
We believe that together, we can grow 110 million leaders by building skills, applying knowledge, and transcending futures. Join us to hack dysgraphia. No Pencil Required.
Each episode contains one intervention to help you support students with writing challenges the next day you are in your classroom. These interventions are explicit, systematic, cumulative, and multisensory. They are designed to support ALL students through targeted, daily visual-perceptual, visual-motor, and memory interventions. These interventions benefit all students and harm none.
All students have access to writing regardless of their status in the classroom. The interventions were created to take up to 30 seconds to 2 minutes of your classroom time. Strategic lesson planning increases classroom engagement.
All interventions can be adapted for students with physical disabilities because they support the Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) and well-being of all students. In addition, these interventions impact all subject matter classrooms. Whether you are teaching English language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, music, or art, these interventions will benefit your classroom atmosphere across ALL grade levels.
You have put your blood, sweat, and tears into investing in your education and children. Don’t let a misunderstanding about this disability stop you from providing best practices.
In case you don’t know me. I’m Cheri Dotterer, 2022 Dysgraphia Expert of the Year. This honor was bestowed on me by Global Health and Pharma Magazine. In 2023, they awarded my company the Best Dysgraphia Professional Development Program.
It took challenges at home and on the job to wake me up to the impact dysgraphia has on all students. Struggling my entire life with communication issues, I was mistaken that only students with learning disabilities could have dysgraphia.
My thoughts shifted when my gifted daughter asked for help with spelling. My son struggles with handwriting. Then, a parent asked me why her child could read and have trouble writing. Finding answers became the drive that gets me out of bed in the morning.
It’s a big shock when you discover how pervasive writing difficulties are and how little people know about how to help–even OTs. I used to think I was the only OT who struggled with understanding dysgraphia. It turns out many have questions.
Occupational, physical, and speech therapists are not trained to teach. Teachers are.
Occupational, speech, and physical therapists are trained in neuroscience. Teachers are not.
Let this podcast be your first line of defense to help your students transcend their learning disabilities. Show your school district how much you genuinely care about all of your students by sharing it with your colleagues.
After each episode, I challenge you to share your key takeaway from the podcast in our FREE yet private community. Share your student wins. Get support on the challenges.
Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, depending on when you're listening to our podcast. The podcast is available on several platforms, including Spotify and Amazon. I'm Jan Orcutt, along with Cheri Dotterer, an occupational therapist, and dysgraphia expert. Welcome to The Writing Glitch. Hacking Dysgraphia, No pencil required.
In this episode, Kelli Fetter tells the story of her experiences with dysgraphia from the perspective of an occupational therapist and then as a mother. Kelli owns Handwriting Solutions.
It is an in-person and virtual tutoring company out of Florida. The goal of her company is to teach children and reach children who are falling through the cracks about handwriting skills. Covid has impacted handwriting so much with students heading into second grade this year. This may be the first year they receive explicit instruction.
She is going to be sharing some insights about tutoring services for handwriting. I am interested in learning how her daughter's dysgraphia impacted her understanding of dysgraphia and handwriting skills.
Hello, Cheri, How are you today really,
I am looking forward to getting started and learning about what Kelli has to share with us today and how she is helping students in Florida learn about handwriting, and how that has impacted her as a mother. Kelli, how are you, really?
Thank you, Cheri. I am doing well.
All things considered. We are transitioned back to school. With that said, my daughter is actually home this week with Pink Eye, but I am optimistic about the school year. We just have had a little bit of a bumpy starch.
Kelli, have you ever had anyone ask you that question and add really to it before?
Very rarely has that happened, but yes, it does. And I always appreciate when people do ask because, in general, most people just do the casual. How are you? Good. Fine. I like it to dive down a little bit deeper.
I do as well. Kelli. We were talking on the phone a week ago. You said that you've been stalking me for several years, and that we talked when I first released my book. Honestly, I did not remember that conversation.
I understand that learning from me has changed your perspective on handwriting over the years. Tell me a little bit more about why you reached out to me in the first place and how it has changed your perspective on dysgraphia.
Sure. When I first reached out to you, my daughter had just received her diagnosis of dyslexia. And dysgraphia. And I feel like most people understand dyslexia, but the dysgraphia went through me even being an occupational therapist. We just aren't necessarily trained heavily in that background.
It threw me, and of course, I am a researcher, and I deep dove and came across you, and we had a very lovely, probably hour-long conversation, and you definitely helped relieve some of my worries and gave me some nice tips and feedback. Since then, I have read, I have taken courses and training, and learned as much as that have been able to on dysgraphia, not only to help my daughter but now to help my clients as well.
Recently we reconnected through the handwriting collaborative. , I'm very excited to be a part of that and to continue learning from you and from everyone, as well as to share my experiences as an OT and a parent.
Cheri, you did it again. You asked Kelli about her real feelings. What insights do you have about emotion in this episode?
The connection between physical events and our emotions is similar to that of a business balance sheet.
Every line item must line up, right? You come from the world of business, right? Jan, I. What that means is everything we do each day has an emotional component. Teaching ourselves and our students how interconnected they are is essential to life success. Jan, I am ready to hear what Kelli has to say.
I love to hear her gold nuggets.
Me too. But before we do, we need to introduce our sponsor. Today's podcast is brought to you by Dotterer Educational Consulting. We are a holistic community-based organization that supports people with dysgraphia from the inside out. We use neuroscience and research-based content to design interventions for the whole classroom that can be completed.
Two minutes each day and thwart this Disability before it becomes a challenge, all without raising the scepter. A pencil. You can find more information about our services by downloading the app The Writing Glitch dot com.
Use hashtag The Writing Glitch and hashtag dysgraphia awareness. Anytime you make a statement about dysgraphia because we search every day for new ways to cheer you. We believe that every person is a king or queen of their own potential. Unleashing that potential starts with effective writing skills.
Effective writing skills. Start by connecting the brain and body. Join The Writing. Glitch Community today.
Kelli, tell us more about handwriting solutions.
All right, Jan. Handwriting Solutions started from my daughter's diagnosis, and I just was inspired by her, and I saw a huge hole in the services that were currently being offered to our kids.
We offer individual private tutoring. We do small groups. We offer camp. Handwriting clubs. We do workshops in local private schools, and we also have a huge well expanding. We are working on a blog, and we're expanding that. And in the process of developing some courses for both parents as well as therapists and teachers.
Wonderful. one of my questions was which came first, the handwriting solutions or your daughter's struggles, and you just answered it by saying your daughter's struggles came first, and that's what got you going. Can you tell us just a little bit more about that?
Sure. Yeah. I've been an occupational therapist for, over 12 years now. I worked in outpatient pediatrics before I had my daughter. Working with pediatrics has always been a part of my career. And then, once I had her, and I became an adjunct professor and an occupational therapy assistant program. I ended up moving to Florida and seeing the need, particularly as we mentioned post covid the need was there.
It just fell in my lap, so to speak.
Kelli, it sounds to me as though you first saw a gap in the industry and decided to jump into that niche area. Is that correct?
Absolutely. Jan, Occupational therapists are obviously trained in handwriting, but we don't necessarily get training in dysgraphia. And that's not to say I work with children with dysgraphia but also a variety of other diagnoses too.
The gap is definitely there, and I'm sure Cheri can speak to that as well.
One of the things that I noticed, the education for the occupational therapist from when I went to school versus when you went to school 12 years ago, is that you are actually getting some information about handwriting.
We are not ever taught how to teach. Does that make sense? the expert in executing. The educational process is the teacher.
That was one of the things that I see it's different between your education and mine. You're mentioning that handwriting is part of the curriculum in OT now? When I was in school, it was not very interesting. And that makes me think, too, maybe my past as an adjunct professor teaching college student somehow has interwoven to provide that similar teaching, but obviously to a younger population through handwriting tutoring.
I noticed you said handwriting workshops were one of the things you offer camps.
Sure. Yeah. I was able to host a few summer camps this year, and these were small group, four students per group. They ran four days a week for about an hour each day. I found that was a good amount of time to get in there, get what we needed to get done without the kids becoming distracted. We always would start with kind of a gross motor activity, and Cheri io has some experience with that, just to get those neurons firing in the brain.
We would work into a more fine motor, visual motor task and then segue into our handwriting lesson for the week. I saw excellent results. I did a pre and a post-screen. The results were amazing after four days. It was very exciting. Last spring, I worked with some private schools here locally to do handwriting workshops, with children.
Fascinating. I noticed you also talked about your blog.
Yes, the blog is one of my favorite parts about handwriting solutions, which was a little bit surprising to me. But I very much enjoy creative writing, and I enjoy reading, learning, and then sharing. I think my readers are, most of them are parents, but I think I do have some teachers and other therapists that need a helpful tip or need a reminder about child development or even just sharing some pictures of what my clients are doing can be inspiring and helpful for parents and families that are struggling.
I noticed that you actually run your blog with the alphabet, the A, B, C.
Can you share something more about how you do it or why you do it that way?
Sure. Yeah, that was just a fun little thing I thought of this spring just to give some structure to the blog. It's amazing how many parts of handwriting. There's so much to talk about, and there's so much to learn and to share.
That was just a fun way to organize it.
We're at the time in our podcast when we need Cheri to tell us about an intervention.
Thank you, Jan. Yes, Kelli mentioned I have a lot of gross motor activities that I incorporate into my training for teachers and therapists. In fact, one of the things that I offered was to fully extend the body.
One of the reasons that I invite you to try that is because kids are constantly in a fetal rolled-up position. They don't get to counterbalance and stretch their extensor muscles. The extensor muscles are the ones that go down your back. That could be your arms, back of your legs.
The exercise that I shared was to put a book on your hands. Don't let your fingers go over the side to hold onto the book. Your hands stay flat underneath the book. You put your arms up over your head, and then you try to walk on your tiptoes and then walk on your heels.
It's a clever way to incorporate a lot of extension flexion against gravity prone, supine. It's all about those positions. Handwriting isn't just handwriting. It's a lot of these positions that we can get our children into that help make a difference.
One of the things about Extension that I think is important, and I don't know how well I have talked about this in the past, but the reason I feel that extension is important is we don't counterbalance the flexion-extension components.
Kids are constantly, Flexed. They have their hips bent. Their shoulders are forward, they're writing, and when you're writing, you really are using a lot of your biceps and then your forearm muscles, and we don't take enough time to get the rest of those. Muscles working, I think it goes back to my days in adult rehab.
Post-stroke, we have synergy patterns. We have these patterns that a person after a stroke goes through. And one of the things that we really try to work on is getting them to extend. If they're in this pattern of flexion and we try to get them in flexion if they're in this pattern of extension. That made me think a lot about these kids.
One of the things I would love to do is have kids stand along the wall doing handstands. Putting 30 kids against the wall, I can't see that being a safe environment. I tried to flip it around, and that's the idea of putting the book over the head. It's doing a standing-up handstand.
Oh, I didn't get that before. That's so interesting. I had a question too, and that is Kelli. You mentioned a couple of things about extensions and flexing. The question is, have you seen a difference in using either the Body Sentence Alphabet or something similar with your daughter in terms of her spelling retention?
Wait a minute before you answer that. What is a Body Sentence Alphabet?
Oh yeah. What's the Body Sentence Alphabet? I think we have to ask Cheri to explain what that is.
Kelli, do you know?
Can you give me your version? Then I can tell you how well my education process has gone.
You, I've heard of it in different ways.
I believe your strategy is to actually use the body part as the letter. I believe your example, maybe I heard on a podcast or an of recent training, was enough, and you've got your eyes, your nose, and so on. One of the ways that I use it with my daughter is not necessarily for spelling but for multi-step directions and just for giving that direction to a body part.
Do you have your lunchbox? Tap your nose. Your water bottle, tap your chin. Your backpack, tap your head. More of that body learning, but both ways, obviously, are great for learning and getting those connections.
Absolutely. My education process is pretty well intact, I must say. Yes, the idea of the Body Sentence Alphabet is visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. When I was first looking for things years ago, there was nothing that was kinesthetic. The Body Sentence Alphabet was formed.
This has been Jan Orcutt, along with Cheri Dotterer, dysgraphia expert of The Writing Glitch.
We have been interviewing Kelli Fetter about handwriting skills.
Kelli, please tell our audience where they can find out more about you.
Sure, my website is www.handwritingsolutions.org. They can also find me on Facebook at Handwriting Solutions, as well as my email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did I hear that you have a free offer for our audience? Absolutely.
If they are able to get to my website and my Facebook page, they can subscribe to my blog, which is completely free, and they will get access to all of my blogs as well as all of my free training videos. And I have a free printable developmental teaching order chart, which is super handy to have if you're a teacher or a therapist.
As well as an extra bonus just for this podcast, I'm going to throw in a free 15-minute consultation. If anyone would like to reach out to me via email, I would love to chat.
Thank you so much, Kelli. We so appreciate your being here with us. Our podcast releases on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month during the school year.
Remember to use the #TheWritingGlitch when sharing our episodes so we can Thank you. Join the writing community today www.app.TheWritingGlitch.Com www.app.thewrtingglitch.com. Remember, you were put here for such a time as. Transform the classroom before raising the Scepter, a pencil, to Unleash Student Potential
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