Not too long ago, Jenise Livesay realized her 11-year-old son had a unique way of writing.
“It looked like, to me, he combined cursive with his print when he wrote sentences,” Livesay said. “The letters would all touch, and he did the same with his numbers.”
Livesay found out that her son, Major Livesay, writes this way because of dysgraphia, a learning disability that affects how children express their thoughts in writing.
This fall, Major will be a student at the Bridge Program at the Vine School, where other students with language-based learning obstacles will be able to receive support and help.
The Bridge Program is a branch of the Vine School, an accredited school for children on the autism spectrum.
The Bridge Program focuses on upper-level elementary school children whose cognitive abilities are within average levels of intelligence but who have difficulty with reading and writing because of disorders such as dyslexia, or trouble reading and interpreting words; dysgraphia; and dyscalculia, or difficulty understanding numbers, symbols and mathematical functions.
“Children who have these language-based learning difficulties have trouble organizing ideas from their mind to paper,” said Meredith Potts, director at the Bridge Program. “Writing down sentences and writing math equations takes a little more time for children with these difficulties.”
Potts, a licensed speech language pathologist, said students in the program will learn through multisensory instruction in core subjects, which could mean writing on a dry erase board table, color-coded learning and typing. Students will also learn in small group settings, Potts said, and have project-based assignments.
Each student will develop and build their own learning style to help them as they progress to middle school and high school, she said.
Parents who recognize or suspect that their child may have a language-based learning disability are invited to tour the new program and speak with Potts about whether the child is a candidate for the Bridge Program.
“Everything about learning is different,” Potts said. “Not every child learns the same way. We’re creating a culture of understanding of learning.”