People often hear about and are familiar with Dyslexia but not normally about Dysgraphia. So what is Dysgraphia?
Dysgraphia is a learning disability that originates in the brain. It makes it very difficult for anyone that has this disability, to write, spell and organize thoughts on paper.
Formal Definition: The Greek words dys means (“impaired”) and graphia means (“making letter forms by hand”).
Characteristics / Symptoms
Someone who has Dysgraphia has a series of characteristics or symptoms. Those symptoms include..
- Having a hard time staying on the dotted line while writing
- Mixing upper case and lower case letters
- Having a hard time noticing misspelled words
- Gets distracted or loses thoughts often
- Has trouble with using and applying writing tools
- Has trouble organizing words, thoughts or ideas
- Often combines sentences while writing
- Often doesn't have very nice handwriting.
- Blended writing ( print and cursive)
These are just a few of the many symptoms and characteristics. Another thing to keep in mind is that these symptoms vary depending on age. For example for a child that is in kindergarten and just learning how to write, it may be harder to catch because they are just beginning to learn how to spell words and write. For this age group they may like to stay away from coloring and writing. For someone who is in high school they have a different scenario. For this age group you will see that they can write but they still have quite a few gammar issues and write very basic sentences.
This is a writing sample of a child with Dysgraphia. There is another sample you can look at by clicking this button below.
Techniques to Improve Writing Skills
There is really no cure for Dysgraphia but there are many techniques and activities you can do to improve the writing aspect of the disability.
- Playing with clay ( helps with strengthening hand muscles)
- Tracing letters with your pointer finger
- Copying letters
- Writing a letter than covering it up to see if the child can remember what the letter was ( this helps with memorization)
These are just a few of the techniques that can help improve a person's motor skills in writing. These skills can benefit someone struggling with this kind of learning disability in the long run.
For a teacher that has a student with Dysgraphia there are many strategies that can be used to help the child. These also can go hand in hand with the techniques listed above.
- Air writing large letters to help with motor memory
- Since a person with Dysgraphia has a hard time organizing thoughts it would be beneficial to have them create a thinking map or chat as a writing activity.
- Give the student extra time on writing activities
- Reduce the amount of copying and writing activities.
- Try not to take off points for spelling errors.
Dysgraphia is a " brain-based" disability. According to a study done at the University of Birmingham, one of the potential underlying causes has to do with the impairment of phonological awareness or phonological processing. This study has also been used with Dyslexia. Dyslexia and Dysgraphia are closely related because of the reading a writing difficulties the two share.
There are a few resources available to help anyone with Dysgraphia. In addition, there are also many assistive devices that can be beneficial to anyone to help improve their writing skills. Also included are some community resources.
- Franklin Electronic Publishers (www.franklin.com)
- Co:Writer 3000/4000 (www.donjohnston.com)
- Dragon Naturally Speaking (www.dragontalk.com)
- Understood for Learning and Attention Issues, 32 Laight Street, Floor 1, New York, NY 10013, 646-757-3135, www.understood.org
- Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Division of Special Education, Bobbi Pedrick, Director of Special Education, 2644 Riva Road, Annapolis, MD 21401 410-222-5410,www.aacps.org/specialed
Learning Disabilities Association of America, Local Maryland Chapter, PO Box 744, Dunkirk, MD 20754, 888-265-6459 http://www.ldamd.org
- National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20892, www.ninds.nih.gov
Learning Disabilities Association, M. M. (2005). Dysgraphia Defined. NetNews. Volume 5, Number 3. LDA Of Minnesota,
Romani, C., Ward, J., & Olson, A. (1999). Developmental Surface Dysgraphia: What Is the Underlying Cognitive Impairment?. Quarterly Journal Of Experimental Psychology: Section A, 52(1), 97-128. doi:10.1080/027249899391241
International Dyslexia Association. "Understanding Dysgraphia."Wrightslaw.com. From:http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/read.dysgraphia.facts.htm
Patino, E. (2014, June 15). Understanding Dysgraphia.
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