Are you concerned that your child’s poor handwriting might be due to something more serious? Learn about dysgraphia, including its symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.
“Hello, mothers,” began the Facebook post in our neighborhood group. “I’m seeking advice regarding how to enhance my son’s handwriting. That is clumsy and incomprehensible. We force him to erase and rewrite, but nothing works. He seemed not to care.”
Instantaneously, my spider senses began to tingle. My daughter was exactly the same. She brought home lined handwriting sheets to practice letter formation in kindergarten. The skyline, plane line, grass line, and worm line (terms used to teach young children how to make capital and lowercase letters) felt more like recommendations than anything she should employ. I did not find she had dysgraphia until the third grade, despite the fact that no amount of deleting and rewriting had any effect.
The writers Brock Eide, M.D. and Fernette Eide describe in their book The Mislabeled Child that dysgraphia is the inability to generate clear handwriting promptly despite adequate instruction, motivation, and mental and mental and physical health. In addition, they remark that dysgraphia is not rare; up to one-fifth of youngsters have significant difficulties expressing themselves through handwriting.
Nonetheless, despite the condition’s prevalence, it is rarely discussed in parent groups. So you’re not alone if you’ve never heard the term before. Continue reading to discover about dysgraphia’s symptoms, diagnosis, and therapy.
Moreover, not all children with dysgraphia have bad handwriting. Some students are able to concentrate sufficiently to make their letters tidy, but when they transition from learning how to write (grades K-2) to writing to demonstrate comprehension (grade 3), they are unable to keep up.
Beth King, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist who specializes in dysgraphia and is the mother of a daughter with the disorder. Here, she discusses the possible symptoms of dysgraphia in children:
- The word spacing is inconsistent and erratic. Certain words may be crowded, while others may be separated. Writing may begin at the center of the page as opposed to the left margin.
- The writing exceeds and falls below the lines.
- Youngsters who are aware of capitalization rules may place arbitrary capital letters in the middle of words or fail to capitalize terms at the beginning of phrases.
- They complain that writing causes them hand pain. They may hold the pencil in an unorthodox manner or write with their bodies in an odd position.
- They oppose essay assignments.
- Spelling errors are frequent (but not always).
Dysgraphia vs. Dyslexia
My daughter has both dysgraphia and dyslexia, although the two conditions are not necessarily related. Dyslexia is a learning problem characterized by reading difficulties, difficulty hearing sounds, difficulty connecting letters to the sounds they represent (phonics), difficulty decoding words, poor oral reading fluency, and spelling.
According to Dr. King, dysgraphia is an output disease that has nothing to do with reading. “Some children have difficulty putting their thoughts on paper since letter production is not automatic. They are focusing on how to write as opposed to what to write.”
My kid never answered questions with more than three words until I began transcribing for her in a remote school. Once I eliminated writing from the equation, she provided lengthy and imaginative responses to prescribed work. Dr. King states that this is typical.
Diagnostics and Tests for Dysgraphia
If you feel that your child has dysgraphia or a problem with written expression, your first step should be to consult with your child’s teacher. Together, you and your kid’s teacher are the most consistent observers of your child and will be able to form the most complete picture of what is occurring. LDA suggests the following measures:
- Share your concerns with your child’s teacher and solicit their feedback and observations.
- Gather data about your child’s academic success (report cards, conference notes, emails from school staff).
- Request from the school administration a full educational examination to see if your kid is eligible for special education services.
- Discover the laws that protect students with impairments.
- Join a state advocacy group, such as a local LDA branch, for assistance.
Psychological examinations and involvement from parents, teachers, and school psychologists are included in a thorough evaluation for suspected learning difficulties. Federal law mandates that public schools give this evaluation, although parents may choose to pay for a private evaluation if they so want (for example, maybe you want to find a neuropsychologist with dysgraphia knowledge). Federal legislation mandates that if the school organizes the review, it must be completed within 60 days.
Protections under the law for Students With Disabilities
Two laws largely safeguard the rights of disabled pupils. Section 504 is a federal statute that protects students with disabilities enrolled in U.S. Department of Education-funded programs (including public schools). This law mandates school districts to provide students with disabilities with appropriate public education, including special education accommodations.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is the second statute (IDEA). This law is comparable to Section 504, except its definition of disability is narrower. Hence, more pupils qualified under section 504 than IDEA.
A student must first get a diagnosis before being eligible for accommodations under these acts.
Therapy and Accommodations for Dysgraphia
There is no treatment for dysgraphia, but there are techniques to help your child succeed in school. Dr. King maintains a Facebook group titled Thriving with Dysgraphia: Tips, Tricks, and Techniques to Help Your Child Soar, which is an excellent resource for continuous support and advice. When it comes to immediate tactical improvements you can make for a child with dysgraphia, the following concessions are the most beneficial:
- Start typing as quickly as possible. (Dr. King likes adaptive typing over regular keyboarding. Because children with dysgraphia have difficulties with automaticity and working memory, they should stare at the keyboard and use whichever fingers are most comfortable. Their typing speed will increase as their workload increases.)
- For math, children should use lined or 1/4″ graph paper.
- Children with mild dysgraphia can benefit from learning cursive or utilizing a slant board (though not all find cursive easier).
- Enable spell check (Dr. King suggests Co: Writer) and do not deduct points for spelling or punctuation errors. Work should be judged only on the basis of its intellectual substance.
- If a writing task cannot be completed on a computer, decrease its scope and allot additional time for completion.
- Some schools may permit the use of talk-to-text software, however it is prone to inaccuracy, particularly when recognizing children’s voices. In addition, children cannot or do not wish to use it in the classroom when other children are present, nor is it useful for arithmetic or science.
It can be terrible for a parent to see their child struggle. Handwriting is not something that children can conceal from their peers, therefore you may also need to assist your child in dealing with humiliation in addition to dysgraphia. You cannot cure or protect your child from every difficulty, but you can help them overcome it.
Dr. King states, “The objective is to get them to a level where they feel good about themselves.” The majority of these problems resolve themselves as children mature.
Meaningful articles you might like: Encourage Your Children To Engage in Imaginative Play, How to Help Kids with Stress-Induced Illnesses, Teaching Kids to Write Their Names