Can anyone try and pin a time frame to their initial symptoms. Something odd, dreams, thoughts of running but cannot?

I suddenly went from making a cursif. or one stroke 8 to making 2 individual hoops. I thoght it was odd. No matter what, I could not go back to a one stroke 8 (age 25) and a numbers guy.

While I was identified having 'remaekable' cerabelllar atropy at age 38 via CT scanning, I guess I am curious if we can go back to the playground in grammar school or beyond and identify a leading indicator.

Thoughts welcomed


I was diagnosed with cerebellar ataxia in 2011. For a long time before that I noticed a

certain conflict between what I thought, and actually ended up writing. My writing in

general has become larger and I sometimes miss letters out. Spending a lot of time

on my laptop means actual 'writing' is kept to a minimum, like exercise maybe I need

to practice often, use it or lose it!

I use to have beautiful handwriting

Now it’s not legible

I to use computer a lot because people can read

During 2011 I stumbled some and knew my balance was getting bad but in Jan. 2012 everything got obviously worse and along about that same time I realized that I couldn't write any more--both curvise and printing were affected. Both balance and handwriting have deteriorated since then. I sent a card to grand daughter yesterday and it looks like a little kid printed it. Numbers are almost as bad as letters but make 8's as two circles and try to use techniques learned from printing from a draftsman. For sometime I did handwriting practice and could draw the letters on lined paper pretty good, but it was not my handwriting. I quit practicing and have lost a lot.

I found that before the ataxia set in I was doing more and more things left handed--even though I was right handed I always did some things left handed. I have always been somewhat clumsy and ADD. I wonder now if that was a precursor to the ataxia, BTW, I am 70 now. I don't think I type as well as I used to, but don't know if that is becuse of the ataxia or other considerations--texting,different keyboard on laptop, etc.

I am also 70 and neurologist told me I probably had CA from birth but the body/brain cope whilst growing up and it wasn't until my late 50's that I started having falls.

I find that if I do things without concentration, it just happens normally but if I have to use my cerebellum, everything deteriorates. That is same with writing too - I can sometimes write in flowing script but if I try to write carefully, it goes all over the place.


DITTO , Patsy

Hope your good


Yes. My handwriting use to be perfect. Now I can't finish one word without switching from cursive to printing. I can't even read my own writing sometimes. Yes with the number eight as well. I'm 56 and my whole life I wrote 8 with one stroke. As of 2008, two circles. Weird. and how I write the letter "r". Nothing like I wrote it before Ataxia. What an odd thing.

You'd think, given what Ataxians have to cope with, handwriting wouldn't be such a big deal. But, like speech, it's often one of the more obvious signs of a SCA (spinocerebellar ataxia). Even as a southpaw encountering a 3rd grade teacher who thought everyone should be right-handed (my mother hit the ceiling), I used to have beautiful penmanship. I even took a calligraphy class in college. Although, lettering vertically to maintain the correct angle, did look pretty strange. With my newly gained calligraphy skills, I hand lettered my wedding invitations (all 12 of them). Hey, it was the counter culture 70's and the wedding was in my parents' backyard.

X marks the spot

Now chicken scratch and illegible overwriting is the norm even when I slow down and try hard. The proverbial X (in lieu of a signature) requires more fine motor coordination than I have. Another issue is the interminal slowness of writing. No one believes me when I warn them, until they watch. Something as simple as writing down a number from a phone message is a challenge. I'll forget the number at least twice (age-related memory deficit), drop the pen twice (ataxic hand/eye coordination), and then be unable to read what I wrote down (illegible handwriting). I often find myself gazing longingly at someone's ability to write effortlessly. That's a little bizarre, but it keeps my wicked witch side at bay most of the time.

I go out of my way to avoid writing if possible and have come up with several creative (some say desperate) alternatives. To avoid those lengthy medical forms, I made copies of my demographic and medical information to print out and take to appointments. Two problems with this. First of all, it drives my security–conscious son, crazy. Secondly, usually the check-in person wants the information on their form. Hoping to avoid it, that's when I have to play the disability card. If they want the information on their form, they can do it. So much for the electronic medical record.

To complete some forms and address envelopes, I have automatic envelope addressing on my computer and bought a used typewriter. If I can talk a medical office in to sending me forms in advance of an appointment or have downloadable forms on the web, I can use the typewriter to complete them. I have to confess once to showing my wicked witch side, when the office manager only knew how to use the postal service.
OM: "I can mail them. What do you mean, download?", she asked sweetly.
Tammy: "That would be fine", I said just as sweetly. I thought, "And she is actually using a computer, in an office, in 2012!"

To fill out checks, I don't. If Earl's not around to do it, I ask the check recipient to write out the check (I can just see my son cringing as he reads this) and I sign an abbreviated, but illegible signature. Restaurant bills? Please... I even had to submit a new signature to the election board. They only had an old readable one on record. I didn't think they ever checked. It took awhile for my self-esteem to recover from that one.

My six year old grand daughter often asks me to write or color with her on our play dates, which strikes fear in my heart.
"It's OK Tam", I sigh, "Zoe's more skilled than you and it doesn't really matter that she's six". But, she doesn't seem to mind that my letters are a bit strange and my coloring doesn't stay in the lines. At this point, I still do color and draw better than the three-year-old.

So, what does this have to do with Skeeter? Not much, except she becomes my go-to reprieve from the things I don't have to worry about. On a scoot, I'm too busy to speak to strangers, write, or fall.

The lesson: People are happy to help. Bite the bullet and ask.

Julie in Colorado said:

Yes. My handwriting use to be perfect. Now I can't finish one word without switching from cursive to printing. I can't even read my own writing sometimes. Yes with the number eight as well. I'm 56 and my whole life I wrote 8 with one stroke. As of 2008, two circles. Weird. and how I write the letter "r". Nothing like I wrote it before Ataxia. What an odd thing.

I have CA and I am using an iPad with a logitech thin clamshell cover/keyboard. I call up the Notes app and type what I need. The keyboard is easier to use than the onscreen keyboard and corrections are MUCH easier. My typing is still slow - but at least it is now legible!

I used to teach handwriting.I thought it was easy then.I have much more sympathy now.

I avoid handwriting if I can.I used to write m myself extensive lists and kept a diary for 36 years. Now I can just about sign my name very slowly.Find it difficcult and embarrassing when the Postman thrusts a gadget in your face and asks you to sign your name.

I was diagnosed with unknown SCA in February 2012. As long as I can remember my balance and handwriting was really bad. I remember in grade school when I had to work on my cursive, it wasn't legible. My teacher would always get mad at me and tell my to work on it at home. I'm 53 now and it's unreadable. I hate when I have to sign my name on a credit card receipt and when it comes to signing my name on the computer screens at the store. I just sign it with a squiggly line and show my ID. A few years ago I had to renew my drivers license (I'm one of the lucky ones that still can drive), the person taking my photo kept asking me if that's my real signature. She wanted to keep redoing my license until I could sign it like a "normal person". Well I'm not a normal person and my writing will never be normal. I always thought my handwriting was from not practicing on it when I was a kid. Now I know I had ataxia back then and never knew it. I used to always fall alot too when I was a kid and my family told me it's because I never paid attention or I was clumsy. When I think about those days it was because I have ataxia and nobody knew it. I didn't even know I have it. I used to be embarrased about my handwriting but now if I have to write any notes for my co-workers at work, my friends write them for me. My friends know what I'm dealing with so if I have to send a card, I just print my name. They know I care and that's all that matters.

I was diagnosed with Ataxia when I turned 50. I think I have had the Ataxia all my life, but the signs became more noticible when I turned 50. My handwriting is very sloppy and large. My wife says she cannot read it. My printing isn't much better. It is more readable but I really have to take my time. I am OK making the figure 8 with one stroke but I have caught myself making it with two zeros. I didn't think anything about it until I read this post.

Some really great responses on this! Amazing how many of us can reflect back and see indicators. Hind sights 20/20.

Kinda makes me wonder if the cerebellar atrophy identified at age 38 may not be lack of development instead.

I distinctly recall a re-occurring dream of running down hill and falling forward (age 8 on.). Now 52, my weirdest events are crossing roads on-foot with oncoming traffic. Especially in a group. It is normal (I think) to take your foot off the brake when the car beside you goes, however you still verify the light is green. (Those spinning hubcaps ought to be illegal).

Back to crossing roads on foot: When the mass takes off, all is cool and you go with the flow. (pack mentality, dunno), however the pack will leave you behind when oncoming traffic appears to be coming faster than initially observed. I want to run, but cannot. The pack has left me. My fear you might ask: Falling face forward in the middle of the road; squashed. Oh well! People will look back and state he looked fine. Others will shout "get out of the road you drunk".

These are all real events which have promoted a stay at home kinda life.

What was strange for me that I was unable to jump up at all. Others my age could but in no way could I get my feet off the ground. This bothered me for quite some time. I worked at the school and tried to show a student how to jump rope. pretty hard to do if your own two feet won't go off the ground. I decided it was because I was in my middle 50's and it was an age thing. Now I realize it was a sign because later I was trying to hang clothes and when ever I tilted my head back I would feel as if I would fall back on my rear. Kept losing my balance. Once this was noticed I started really paying attention to things that were unusual about me. Now My balace is to the point that if I don;t use a wheel walker I know I could take the chance of falling. I now have double vision in one eye, neaurapthy in my legs, Diabetes 2, (under good control) speech is starting to slur now. I have had a ongoing cough that is cronich and causes me to gasp for air at times. I get very little sleep. Dose off and on. Have fallen while standing just from dosing off. Told this is Narkalepsey.

Just had cataract surgery on both eyes in Nov. 2012. Thankful to be able to see now. For awhile thought I was going blind.

I guess if I took a wild guess at when this all started I would have to guess 2008. Not fun but it is what it is and I will deal with it one day at a time. What other choice is there?

Had enough doctors tell me there is no cure or anything they can do. Thanks to their honesty I no longer go to this or that doctor for hope. I go once a year to let them see how it has progressed in that year and that is it.

Now I live for God and those who love me and want me in their lives. Life is good.

Loz, that post could have been made by me!

My ataxia(s) fully came to light about five years ago but my handwriting has been in slow deterioration since before then.

I have since been told by a neurologist that I have probably been affected from a young age (if not from birth) by my ataxia and another Neurologist has remarked that the way my ataxia affects me has similarities to MS (though it seems from testing that I am unlikely to have MS).

Anyway the long and the short of it is that sometimes I can write short notes to myself as I can understand them, other times I can slowly make my mark / sign my name but mostly I have difficulties even picking up or holding on to a pencil or pen due to the ongoing problems in my hands. :(

loz said:

I use to have beautiful handwriting
Now it's not legible
I to use computer a lot because people can read

been there, done that. mas here. I hv sca2. never could write well. compensated with block-letter writing, d oublwe-loop 8 asnd, now, not writ ing. can't even tyhpe o9n A big key keyboard. I used to hbe A computer programmer!~

A few years ago my daughter noticed letters missing when I wrote my signature.
Normally I write my full name, it used to be readable but now it could be Burly
or anything similar! I’ve started using an i pad with a separate wi fi keyboard.
Adjusting to a small keyboard was hard, adjusting to the i pad and using the
touch screen was an irritation. Now, I use a stylus instead of my finger but
what I end up looking at can be unpredictable due to lack of control over the
Way back when I was about 5-6yrs old (in the good old days), when I first
learned to do ‘joined up writing’, I was hauled in front of the Headteacher
because I wrote so small. That would never happen now, it has to be large
so I can see it and I usually print so I can read it! xB

YES!!! That is exactly what happened with me. My "8" are now two separate circles....It changed one day about 5 years ago, and I remember thinking...I don't do "8" like that! and my cursive "r" are different now too. I can't imagine why at 50 years old those things would change.

I asked my brother (who I suspect has Gluten Ataxia too) if his handwriting had changed and it was the same things.

I also was dropping things all the time. I broke every coffee cup in my house. I began to hold on to the wall as I walked for balance. "wall walking".

I wall walk too. I think that my typing is slowly getting worse.

I live near Columbia, south Carolina; I am dreadi jng the winter. my intentional hand tremor is affecting my use of the toilet And I need to uzse the bathroom in the m,iddle of the night. how do u guyhs/gals handle t his?

jhulie, I like my coffee too; but I have nbo full se ts orf coffee mugs!

Same here mas.Tremor has affected most things.Along with poor focus etc I feel a wreck.Even going out on the scooter is too fast for my eyes.Ataxia and poor focussing etc mean everythi ng ends up on the floor where I can't get it.Do you do lots of editing like me?Have a plastic cup for coffeeand a bib now because there were spillages everywhere.

Handwriting is very wobbly now,not good for a former teacher less than 6 years ago.Have bathroom problems as well and fall off the toilet and put hand throough the paper if I am lucky enough to get it off the roll.Not very dignified.