Dysgraphia is a fancy word used to describe an extreme difficulty with expressing thoughts in written form and the act of writing. Many people with dyslexia may also be affected by dysgraphia. Dysgraphia is considered a type of dyslexia and is a learning disability in written expression.
Someone with dysgraphia may not be able to recognize some or all of the written alphabet letters, write letters or words, or understand the relationship between sounds, words, and written letters. Someone with dysgraphia will have an extremely difficult time writing regardless of the writing method used.
Signs & Symptoms of Dysgraphia
- ✔ Odd pencil grip
- ✔ Shakes hand out often while writing
- ✔ When writing letters student begins and ends at unusual points
- ✔ Changes in how a letter is written on the same paper
- ✔ Letter heights and/or letter-height relationships are inconsistent
- ✔ Spacing between letters and words is inconsistent
- ✔ Slant is inconsistent
- ✔ Difficulty remembers capitals or lower cases
- ✔ Trouble with remembering how a letter is written
- ✔ Trouble writing on the line
- ✔ Extreme pressure when writing
- Poor or inconsistent letter or number formation
Learning to write is a complicated process, and while most children will improve with practice, a student with dysgraphia may have very limited gains without the right intervention.
Each person has their own unique combination of challenges with writing, but some of the issues may include letter reversals or flips, spelling difficulty, odd pencil grip, motor memory issues (remembering how the letter is written), muscle coordination issues, illegible writing, language processing difficulties, short term memory challenges, organizational difficulties, and problems using words to describe ideas. It is believed that dysgraphia may be caused by an impairment of the ability to combine and coordinate language processing, visual perception, and motor areas of the brain.
The act of writing is one of the most difficult skills to learn. Students must learn what each capital and lower case letter looks like, learn how to write each symbol with good spacing and size on a line, and attach sounds to each one. Then children are taught how to string the letters into words, the words into sentences, and sentences into paragraphs. Included in this is the ability to decide what to write about, details to include, and a sequence to follow. Students have to hold pictures and thoughts in their mind while they write the sequence of words, all the while using spelling, grammar and punctuation rules.
A person with dysgraphia may have difficulty with writing yet be considered above average or gifted in other areas. Because of this, they can be seen as not really trying when it comes to writing. The act of composing language and then writing it down can be very exhausting for a dysgraphic individual. Keyboarding or speech recognition may be an accommodation that will relieve the stress of having to write letters and words by hand, but many dysgraphics will still have a great deal of difficulty getting ideas down on paper or the computer screen. This is because dysgraphic individuals who have wonderful imaginations may get frustrated at how slow and difficult the whole process is that it stunts their creativity.
What can be done?
Combining cutting edge therapies that address weak areas of visual processing, auditory processing, memory, and un-integrated reflexes that affect pencil grip, oculomotor skills, and small motor skills, we are able to address the weak underlying causes of dysgraphia. Once these areas have been remediated we can then progress to improving organization of language, thoughts, and composition.
The Learning Skills Pyramid is the foundation of successful remediation. If you focus on just parts of the problem, therapy will not always bring about the desired results. You’ll be left with missing pieces in your program. And that’s where HOLS comes in. In order to identify the contributing factors, a Functional Academic and Learning Skills Evaluation must be administered to determine the source of the missing pieces. Only then can a comprehensive program be designed that will address your child’s weaknesses in developmental order.