What is dysgraphia?
Dysgraphia is a learning difficulty that affects writing. Writing requires a person to coordinate their motor skills and to use their information processing skills. Dysgraphia makes this act of writing difficult.
It can lead to problems with spelling, poor handwriting and putting thoughts on paper. People with dysgraphia can have trouble organizing letters, numbers and words on a line or page.
A person can have dysgraphia and another learning difficulty, such as , dyslexia.
Signs of dysgraphia
- Unsure of right or left handedness
- Poor or slow handwriting
- Messy and unorganized papers
- Difficulty copying
- Poor fine motor skills
- Illegible handwriting
- Saying words out loud while writing
- Trouble forming letter shapes
- Trouble keeping track of thoughts already written down
- Difficulty with writing clear and understandable sentences
- Cramping of fingers while writing short entries
- Use of excessive erasures
- Mixing of upper case and lower case letters
- Misuse of lines and margins on the paper
- Inattentiveness over details when writing
- Referring heavily on vision to write
- Having a hard time translating ideas to writing, sometimes using the wrong words altogether
Signs of dysgraphia in the classroom
- You may see diversionary tactics as the student will not want to write.
- The student will tire easily with any writing task
- The student is likely to have a lack of confidence with writing
- The student will struggle to keep up with copying or writing tasks.
- There will be a discrepancy between the student’s verbal ability and their writing ability.
How to help a child with dysgraphia
Accommodations - providing alternatives to written expression
- Use of assistive technology, for example, word processing or computer software, speech recognition software on a tablet or ipad
- Allow extra time for copying work and completing tasks or alternatively provide notes so copying load is reduced.
- Allow a break before proofreading written work
- Provide a checklist for editing their work—spelling, neatness, grammar, syntax, clear progression of ideas, etc.
- Using graphic organisers, for example, mind mapping software,
- Using sentence starters
Modifications - changing expectations or tasks to minimize or avoid the area of weakness
- Eliminate the need for neatness
- Offer alternative projects to a written report , for example, oral presentations, power point presentations etc
- Allow extra time for any test involving writing or allow the student to dictate the answers.
- Understand that the student would write if they could. They have normal to above normal intelligence and a learning difficulty with writing.