Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects writing abilities. Students might have trouble with getting their thoughts down on paper, but parents and teachers might also notice issues with poor handwriting and/or spelling.
Currently (2020,) Texas includes dyslexia and dysgraphia in consideration with Specific Learning Disabilities assessment. The Texas Education Agency Dyslexia Handbook defines dysgraphia as a disorder where the student has difficulty with letter formation which then results in illegible and/or inefficient handwriting. “This difficulty is the result of deficits in graphomotor function (hand movements used for writing) and/or storing and retrieving orthographic codes (letter forms) (Berninger, 2015). Secondary consequences may include problems with spelling and written expression. The difficulty is not solely due to lack of instruction and is not associated with other developmental or neurological conditions that involve motor impairment.”
Writing is a complex task requiring fine motor skills in forming and spacing letters, words, and sentences on paper. Additionally, thoughts need organization, and pre-planning is essential. In short, dysgraphia is a processing disorder, not a fine motor skills disorder.
Warning signs can include:
- Tight, awkward pencil grip which leads to tiring quickly
- Illegible handwriting
- Spelling issues
- Difficulty organizing thoughts on paper
- Difficulty with syntax structure and grammar
- Significant differences between oral communication and written communication
Interventions will depend on the specifics of a student’s difficulties, but might include:
- Try a multi-sensory approach to handwriting
- Insure proper instruction in handwriting, including appropriate pencil grip
- Use graphic organizers when preparing a written essay
- Employ spell checking assistance
- Encourage children to write by having them make grocery lists or writing thank you notes to relatives.
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