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Tom can write!

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Student Tom
Age 8
Year 4
School Primary

Tom is fully supported throughout his day by two teacher aides as he works alongside, and with, his year 4 peers. Tom is described as non-verbal, which means that although he does communicate verbally with us, we do not always understand the sounds he makes.

We do, however, understand when he is angry, happy, or upset by the tone of his voice or the physical gestures and actions he uses; for example, dropping to the ground, crying, and so on. Tom’s family and various education staff have spent the past five years modelling and writing Tom’s name as we have encouraged him to recognise, read, and write it. During the past few months, Tom has demonstrated an awareness of writing his name and, for the first time, during this string, we have seen him complete the correct letter strokes to be able to do this.

Tom has complex sensory needs, which can change quickly. At times he can tolerate various materials and sounds, yet within minutes these can be unbearable for him. It is important for us to recognise this and to change teaching materials so that a task will be reinforcing for him. A further concern is recognising the difficulty for Tom to complete the physical act of writing. He uses big pens so that he can grip them using the grasp he has mastered. In the past, he has required weight on his wrists as he writes because of his low muscle tone and lack of body awareness.