Dysgraphia affects an individual’s ability to write. This learning disability makes it difficult for individuals to write, resulting in poor handwriting, problems with spelling and even leading to trouble getting words on the page.
Dysgraphia is about more than having bad handwriting; it is about having difficulty writing words and even individuals with good handwriting can be diagnosed with the learning disability. Common symptoms of the disability include:
- Difficulty gripping a pencil
- Odd positioning while writing
- Fatigue while writing
- Writing slowly
- Speaking words or letters at they are being written
- Trouble writing within the margins
- Poor letter or word spacing
- A mix of writing styles
- Illegible handwriting
- Leaving words out or failing to finish words
- Difficulty organizing thoughts in writing
- Frustration when asked to write
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, dysgraphia is largely a neurological disorder that generally appears when children first begin writing. While it is connected with all of the symptoms above, the main symptoms that may signal dysgraphia include very poor handwriting and using incorrect words to represent ideas.
Many of the treatment programs for individuals with dysgraphia are similar to the programs for individuals with dyslexia. In fact, both dyslexia and dysgraphia can be treated using the Orton-Gillingham approach, which is a structured language programs providing focused instruction on multiple aspects of letters, reading skills and spelling skills.
In some instances, dysgraphia is more difficult to overcome, but numerous modifications and accommodations can help individuals with this learning disability experience success. For example, many physicians encourage those who have bad handwriting as a result of dysgraphia to use a computer instead of writing by hand. In school, children can also be given oral exams instead of being required to write out their answers or complete alternatives to written reports and projects in the classroom. Special pencils, wide-ruled paper and materials designed to keep student writing organized can also help those with this learning disability.
While having good handwriting is a benefit, teachers and parents should be sure to focus not on the appearance of words on paper. Helping children with dysgraphia successfully get their ideas down is more important than how the ideas look on paper.