Dr. Lisa Rankin


This article was written on 10 Feb 2015, and is filled under LisaRankin.

Handwriting on the Wall

As I have travelled down this road called Autism as a parent and a provider and observed closely along the way I have come to several conclusions about how medical providers, therapists, educators and parents tend to focus their energies. I have decided that there is often alot of time spent on problems that are much less important than we make them and overlook others that should not be ignored.

The exhibit of handwriting is a perfect example. Riley did therapy through early learning and then the school system up until third grade. It was not much just based on school system being strapped and we never did any outside of that. The main focus through all of that was handwriting. What you see now is what we saw years ago and that is with being reminded to slow down while writing. If you stand and supervise you can get ongoing legible writing from him. The other example is mine which is legible but very immature looking and has not advanced much past that of a third grader. You can read it ONLY because I forced myself to write slowly. It is actually very difficult and uncomfortable for me to write for any length of time without it degenerating into scribble.

Having said that I somehow made it through college, medical school and residency with that chicken scratch and I am by no means alone. The reality is that as a society we do not write much at all and this is only decreasing. Do I wish Riley and I had neater handwriting? Of course I do. Am i going to spend additional time and money and frustrate myself and Riley to make it even better? Absolutely not. I am going to focus my time and energy on activities that actually have an impact.

While his handwriting is not good he plays Little League baseball, I-9 football and is taking Tennis Lessons. He can ski and even go over small jumps and can mountain bike on trails just as well as any of the kids I have taken. These skills did not develop from using electronics or spending hours weekly practicing holding a pencil. They came from playing outside with his brother and from Dad throwing the baseball and football and mom taking him biking. It also came from working with therapies that focus on integrating multiple areas of dysfunction at once,like the Interactive metronome, The Listening Program, and now the Brain Mat program.

All of the things that helped Riley are things done at home and supervised by family members and or Diane. I see so many children where all the focus is put on getting this therapy or that therapy whild ignoring the endless possibilities right in front of them. There is nothing magical about what takes place in a therapy session and the majority of it can easily be done by parents and caregivers. Go ahead and take therapies offered in school but do not drive yourself crazy and create a schedule for your child that ignores those things that actually provide a much bigger benefit.


Child with Autism after 6 years of therapy in school

Child with Autism after 6 years of therapy in school

"Neurotypical" adult with no therapy.

“Neurotypical” adult with no therapy.


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