What is Dysgraphia?

Although many people have heard about reading disabilities such as dyslexia, many are not aware of writing disabilities. Unfortunately, writing disorders are just as common as reading disabilities and are more likely to affect boys.

One writing disorder is dysgraphia. You might ask, “what is dysgraphia?” Dysgraphia is a learning disorder that includes problems with handwriting, spelling and organizing thoughts on paper.

Many children diagnosed with a writing problem also have reading disability. The process for both overlap which is the reason they usually go hand-in hand. It is not yet known why boys have more writing problems than girls.

Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects writing abilities. Children with dysgraphia have difficulties with spelling, poor handwriting and difficulty putting thoughts on paper.

Warning signs of dysgraphia

Just because someone has bad handwriting does not mean he/she has dysgraphia. Dysgraphia is a processing disorder, and difficulties can change from year to year. While writing is a developmental process (children learn the motor skills needed to write), they must also learn the thinking skills needed to communicate on paper. This is why difficulties can overlap. Keep in mind when researching what is dysgraphia, that you don’t confuse it with other learning disorders.

If a student has trouble in any of the areas below, seeking additional help may be beneficial. Things to look for:

• Tight, awkward pencil grip and body position

• Illegible handwriting

• Avoiding writing or drawing tasks

• Tiring quickly while writing

• Saying words out loud while writing

• Unfinished or omitted words in sentences

• Difficulty organizing thoughts on paper

• Difficulty with syntax structure and grammar

• Large gap between written ideas and understanding demonstrated through speech

• Complaints of hand hurting

Strategies that can help

There are many ways a person with dysgraphia can achieve success. Strategies fall into three categories:

• 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

Although finding out that your student has dysgraphia can be discouraging, an early diagnosis and immediate intervention can result in successful remediation.

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