Things parents must know about Dysgraphia

 

It was the second day of school and Tina was doing homework with her mother. There were a lot of spelling mistakes in her notebook that got her mother worried. “Why is she not able to write and spell words properly?” Tina’s mother thought to herself.

 

What is Dysgraphia?

Dysgraphia is a learning disability where children find it difficult to write properly, spell words and select the right words to use.

Symptoms of Dysgraphia:

Different symptoms of Dysgraphia are seen in children of different ages. Some may have problems with handwriting while some may be facing issues with spelling.

Some of them are as under:

  1. Handwriting that is not legible
  2. Odd spellings
  3. Wrong capitalization
  4. A combination of cursive and print writing styles
  5. Using incorrect words
  6. Removing words from sentences
  7. Writing slowly
  8. Feeling tired after writing short sections
  9. Incorrect size of letters
  10. Inappropriate letter spacing
  11. Finding grammar and sentence structure difficult
  12. Uncommon position of the body or hands while writing
  13. Speaking words aloud while writing them down
  14. Looking at the hand while writing
  15. Tight pencil grip
  16. Tendency to avoid tasks involving writing or drawing
  17. Trouble taking notes at school

Types of Dysgraphia:

 

Dyslexia Dysgraphia:

Here the child does not necessarily have Dyslexia, but his/her handwriting is not legible and the spellings are incorrect.

Motor Dysgraphia:

Children with Motor Dysgraphia have weak motor skills, coupled with weak dexterity.

Spatial Dysgraphia:

This learning disability refers to the trouble with spatial awareness. Children with spatial dysgraphia find it difficult to judge space between lines and use the right amount of space between words. Any written form of content from them is usually not legible.

 

Phonological Dysgraphia:

In this learning disability, children experience difficulty in writing and spelling, especially with unfamiliar, jumbled and phonetically irregular words. Children with Phonological Dysgraphia find it hard to retain similar sounding words in memory and put them in the right sequence to produce the target word.

Lexical Dysgraphia:

Lexical Dysgraphia is seen when a child can spell but uses standard phonemes (distinct units of sound that differentiate words from each other) with mistakes in irregular words.

Diagnose and treat Dysgraphia:

Diagnosis

As parents you may need many specialists, including a family doctor or pediatrician, an occupational therapist, and a psychologist to diagnose dysgraphia in your child.

A doctor will have to rule out other conditions that could cause writing problems for your child.  Once this is done, a psychologist who specializes in learning disorders can diagnose dysgraphia.

Tests include:

  • Academic Tests
  • Fine Motor Skill Trials
  • IQ Tests
  • Writing tests

During these tests, the specialist observes the person’s pencil grip, hand and body position, and writing process. They also examine the finished parts for signs of dysgraphia, in your child.

The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders ( DSM ) criteria for diagnosing specific learning disorders, such as Dysgraphia is that the set of symptoms should be present for at least six months, while the right interventions are in place.

There is no cure for Dysgraphia, but you can learn to handle your children’s symptoms to make school and life less challenging for them.

 

Treatment and management techniques include:

Occupational therapy

Your children can learn specific skills and techniques to make writing easier and can improve their fine motor skills and may relearn how to hold a pen or pencil to enable better writing.

Strategies relating to classroom tools:

  • Try different writing tools and grips e.g. pens, pencils
  • Make your children write on paper with raised lines to help them stay within the lines
  • Let them read from printed lesson outlines in class to ease note-taking

Strategies for directing children in school

The way your child’s teacher delivers a lesson or introduces an assignment can impact his/ her comprehension and results. As a parent you can make their teachers aware of the following methods:

  1. Allowing ample time to complete assignments
  2. Filling in the name, date, and title of assignments beforehand
  3. Elaborating how each element is graded
  4. Sharing earlier assignments and grades
  5. Giving solutions to written assignments

Strategies for finishing projects:

Your child can use technology and support systems to complete assignments using:

  • Dictation software while writing
  • Requesting for a proofreader to check work
  • Typing assignments on a computer
  • Asking for extra time for tests

Dysgraphia and mental health

Learning disabilities can cause the following problems for a child:

  1. Fears
  2. Worry
  3. Sleep issues
  4. Irritation
  5. Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  6. Social withdrawal
  7. Loss of appetite
  8. Thoughts of self-harm

If you see these signs, you should immediately ask for help from a qualified therapist. They can help your children with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which makes them observe their thoughts, bring a change to adapt to the situation. Dysgraphia when treated on time can save your child from a lot of trauma and unhappiness in the later years of their life. Learning disabilities when not identified and treated, have a significant impact on a child’s self-esteem and mental health. However, action and the right interventions can help your child manage their symptoms. Try to keep yourself calm and optimistic throughout the journey, this will help you and your child work as a team.

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