Dysgraphia is a learning disability that results in difficulty with written expression. Individuals with dysgraphia can still express themselves fluently orally, but may be unable to transfer their ideas to the page. As a result, writing may be arduous, which can lead to the avoidance of writing altogether. Dysgraphia differs from dyslexia in that dyslexia involves difficulties with reading and matching sounds to words, whereas dysgraphia focuses more on the physical act of writing and the organisation of thoughts while doing so.
Dysgraphia can be categorized into two types:
- Non-language–based dysgraphia is caused by a dysfunction in the motor skills that is required for writing.
- Language-based dysgraphia is caused by impairments in the language composition of writing such as difficulty transforming sounds and words into written form.
Signs and Symptoms
Writing may include language problems such as omitting words, and incorrect word usage. Non-language problems could include issues with motor skills such as poor pencil grip and coordination, difficulty forming letters, or spacing letters even if letter formation is adequate. Here are some other signs:
- Awkward pencil grip (fingers/wrist)
- Unusual position of paper
- Easily tired from writing
- Poorly formed or inconsistently formed letters
- Poor spatial planning when writing
- Lack of punctuation and capitalization
- Mixture of lower case and capital letters in sentences
- Failing to finish words or omitting words from sentences
- Difficulty following spelling and grammar rules in writing
- Poor sequence/Organization of words in sentence
- Produces minimum content on a page despite oral ability to explain ideas
- Avoids writing
Causes of Dysgraphia
- Damage to the parietal lobe resulting in poor working memory and motor skill deficits
Supporting Your Child with Dysgraphia
- Accommodations: Providing alternatives to written expression
- Modifications: Changing expectations or tasks to minimize or avoid the area of weakness
- Remediation: Providing instruction for improving handwriting and writing skills
- Treatment: Nourish brain to rebuild brain connections, Practice cross-lateral exercises to improve fine motor skills and coordination (e.g. cross crawls, superman)
Each type of strategy should be considered when planning instruction and support. A person with dysgraphia will benefit from help from both specialists and those who are closest to the person. Finding the most beneficial type of support is a process of trying different ideas and openly exchanging thoughts on what works best.