An individual with dysgraphia has difficulty writing, such as poor handwriting, poor spelling, or a difficult time selecting the right words.
Children and adults can suffer from dysgraphia. Dysgraphia may occur in conjunction with other learning disabilities. Doctors may refer to it as agraphia when it occurs after a trauma, like a stroke, during adulthood.
Dysgraphia has a range of symptoms and can be diagnosed and managed in different ways.
Different types of dysgraphia
There are several types of dysgraphia, including:
It occurs when a person does not copy written words from another source and hence cannot read them. This is especially true as the writing progresses. However, copied writings or drawings may appear clear.
The spelling of an individual is poor even though the fine motor skills of the individual are normal. Dysgraphia is not necessarily a sign of dyslexia, regardless of its name.
People with dysgraphia suffer from poor fine motor skills. Poor dexterity is another sign of motor dysgraphia.
Copywork and drawings tend to be illegible or poor quality. It may be possible to read short writing samples if the student puts in an extreme amount of effort. Standard spelling is usually not an issue.
Having problems with spatial awareness causes spatial dysgraphia. This may show up as an inability to stay inside the lines on a piece of paper or with difficulty spacing words correctly.
Usually, any handwriting or drawing by an individual with this kind of dysgraphia is illegible. They do not usually have problems with spelling.
Children with dysgraphia can experience different symptoms depending on their age.
There are also different types of dysgraphia that cause different symptoms. There are people who have poor handwriting or poor spelling, while others will have both issues.
The following are possible symptoms:
- Poor handwriting or illegibility
- Spelling errors
- Mixed handwriting style
- Incorrect wording
- Sentences omitted
- Writing pace is slow
- Exhaustion after short pieces
- Letter size is not appropriate
- Space between letters is too wide
- Grammatical errors and sentence structure issues
- Atypical body or hand positioning
- Speaking words while writing them
- Keeping an eye on the hands while writing
- Having a tight or unusual grip on the pencil
- Choosing not to write or draw
- Being unable to take notes
Dysgraphia is often accompanied by other learning disorders or mental health problems. It is not uncommon for people with dysgraphia to suffer from anxiety and low self-esteem due to the challenges they face.
A dysgraphia diagnosis may require the assistance of several specialists, including an occupational therapist, a psychologist, and other health professionals.
It is imperative that other medical conditions be ruled out before a dysgraphia diagnosis can be made. Psychologists who specialize in learning disorders can diagnose dysgraphia after they have made this assessment. These methods include:
- Academic tests
- Fine motor skill challenges
- IQ tests
- Copying and writing exercises
An expert will observe how a person grips the pencil, postures their hands and body, and writes. Dysgraphia can also be diagnosed by looking at the finished work.
A diagnosis of dysgraphia, an aspect of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is laid out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) of the American Psychiatric Association.
An important criteria is that the set of symptoms needs to be present for at least six months, and that appropriate interventions have been implemented.
Why is a diagnosis important?
Dysgraphia and other learning disabilities can lead to treatment, support, and instructional accommodations for the individual.
Dysgraphia sufferers often benefit from love, encouragement, and support from family, teachers, and employers. Dysgraphia is a common occurrence in schools, and they provide special accommodations for teaching and assessing those with disorder.
Early diagnosis and treatment will allow a person to reduce the impact of their learning ability and daily life on their learning and development.
A person with dysgraphia can suffer from poor mental health and self-esteem if they are not treated.
Dysgraphia can be treated and people can improve their writing abilities. While other people will continue to suffer from the disorder, they may be able to lower its impact.
It is not possible to cure dysgraphia, however people can learn how to manage their symptoms to make life and school easier.
The following are some methods for managing dysgraphia symptoms:
Medical treatment for co-occurring conditions
When people take ADHD medications for dysgraphia and ADHD, they may see improvements in both conditions.
It is possible for people to learn specific skills and techniques to make writing easier through occupational therapy. It may be necessary to relearn how to hold a pen or pencil to increase their writing ability.
Read: Vocal Tic Disorder
Management strategies for learning
People with dysgraphia can learn strategies to cope with their condition from learning strategies. The strategies an individual learns may vary depending on their age and ability.
When it comes to taking notes in class, there are a few strategies that may be helpful for students of all ages:
Strategies involving classroom materials
Teachers can make a number of classroom adjustments that can assist students with writing, such as:
- Changing the type of pencils and pens used
- Making sure to stay within the lines on the paper
- Writing lesson outlines on paper in class to help students take notes
Techniques for giving instructions
Lessons and assignments can be made clearer and more effective based on how they are delivered. Students can share the following ideas with their teachers:
- Allowing adequate time for completion of assignments
- Prefilling assignment forms with the assignment title, date and name
- Discussing every element of grading
- Discussing grades from previous assignments
- providing alternative assignments
Strategies for completing assignments
Students can utilize technology and support systems to assist in completing their assignments, including:
- Taking notes with dictation software
- Hiring a proofreader to review their work
- Using a computer to type up written assignments
- Requesting extra time on tests
What can I do to help my child?
Here are a few suggestions:
- If your child struggles to align letters and words on narrow-ruled paper, graph paper, or paper with raised lines, have them use wide-ruled paper
- Use pencil grips if they are uncomfortable holding their pencils
- Teach typing skills early, and let them type instead of writing
- Avoid criticizing sloppy work. Show your appreciation for their efforts
- Recognize the condition and discuss it with your child
- Give them stress-relieving strategies before writing. Tell them to shake their hands quickly or to rub their hands together
- Squeezing a stress ball will strengthen their hand muscles and improve their coordination
Consult with your child’s teacher about any school-related issues. If you are a parent of a child who is disabled, they may qualify for special education services, such as an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or other forms of special assistance. School officials use these documents to assess your child’s needs and offer ways to meet them.
Some items you may ask for are:
- Taking exams orally rather than in writing
- Writing assignments that are shorter or questions that are different from their classmates
- Typing instead of writing
- Copying notes from class to reduce writing work
- Making use of an electronic note-taker or dictation machine
- Taking notes during a lecture
- Doing homework by video or audio rather than writing
Read: Communication Disorders
When to consult a specialist
Dysgraphia should be treated by a specialist if an individual or child shows any signs of it.
An initial visit to a family doctor may be necessary in order to obtain a referral to a specialist. It is also possible for schools to refer students directly to specialists.
Handwriting and spelling problems are caused by dysgraphia, a learning disability. Those with dysgraphia can face great difficulties in their lives.
However, dysgraphia can be managed through treatment and appropriate interventions, which can have a positive impact on a person’s life.