Does your child have trouble writing? It might be Dysgraphia
Does your child shy away from writing or drawing activities? Does she struggle with her penmanship and mix up letters and words? She might have a learning disorder called dysgraphia.
Dysgraphia is a learning disability that causes a child to have problems in writing words, letters and numbers resulting in poor penmanship and spelling.
- Difficulty understanding and recalling language sequences such as letters, words, spelling and even punctuation.
- Indecipherable penmanship in either print or cursive, even if the child has been given enough time to improve.
- Mixes up the following: print and cursive letters; lower and upper case. Writes letters in different shapes, sizes or slants.
- Uses the following at an odd position or angle: body, wrist or paper.
- Has incomplete or omitted letters or words in his work.
- Grips the pencil in an odd manner.
- Trouble visualizing letters.
- Trouble with writing and thinking simultaneously such as when taking notes in class.
- Exhibits inadequate spatial planning (spaces between letters and words) when writing on paper.
- Shies away from activities that include drawing or writing.
One is the absence of fine motor coordination. Another is that the parts of the brain responsible for processing ideas into writing don't "communicate" well.
Children with this learning disability may become frustrated because dysgraphia symptoms will cause them to lag behind in school without the proper support and intervention.
Low self-esteem can also be due to being labeled as slow or lazy, especially when the learning disability is left undiagnosed and untreated, because dysgraphia symptoms hamper or cause a delay in school activities.
Without proper intervention, a child will encounter difficulties such as being unable to copy homework from the board. This may result to low grades, which is another aspect a child will feel frustrated about.
Like all learning disabilities, a child may experience low confidence, depression and even anger.
Tests and Diagnosis
Ask your child's teacher if he notices dysgraphia symptoms in your child. If so, then consult a learning disability specialist, who will evaluate your child by asking him to write and copy written words; and evaluating writing process which involves fine-motor speed, posture, pencil grip and fatigue level.
Continue reading to learn how to help a child with dysgraphia
- Ask the child to use a computer but do not eliminate the activity of writing
- Use tools such as paper that have raised lines to aid the child
- Cut up writing activities or assignments into smaller, more doable tasks
- Discuss the following with your child's school:
- Providing oral exams instead of written
- Allowing tape recorders in class
- Providing you or your child with a lesson outline to diminish writing in class
- Providing printed activities such as word problems to reduce writing
- Allowing your child to use rule paper and graph paper
- Providing other options to written homework such as audio or video recordings
Do not berate the child for seemingly sloppy word. Dysgraphia symptoms alone already cause low self-esteem in a child. Understand that it is not his fault; let him know this as well. The best everyone can do is to set a goal to improve the child's skills.
Parents, teachers and other care givers must always be present to provide emotional support to a child with dysgraphia by:
- Providing specific methods of handling frustration such as breathing exercises or removing oneself from the situation to go out for a walk or a brief play time. This enables the child to return to a hurdle fresh.
- Encourage the child to always try despite his failures. Point out that such instances are opportunities to grow and improve.
- Provide a child with other extracurricular activities that he is genuinely interested in and where he won't notice the difficulties dysgraphia symptoms cause. It might be cooking or martial arts or learning something simple as a new skill. These can give him a sense of fulfillment.
Fine motor skills
To improve this, ask the child to:
- Play sungka to encourage picking up and dropping small objects
- Build a tower using coins
- Arrange refrigerator magnets or any small objects into shapes or letters
- Pour liquid into different small containers
- Draw small circles on paper then fit a small stone or pebble on each circle
- Get small pieces of paper and glue them onto a separate piece of paper into shapes or letters
- Play pick up sticks
- Make shapes using matchsticks (just be sure not to leave him alone with these)
- Sort Lego pieces, Nips candy, fish food or beads by color
Pencil skill grasp
- Painting or coloring inside the lines
- Use thicker pencils
- Dot to dot games
- Tracing pictures or shapes
Also read: How my 3-year-old started writing herself