Dysgraphia in Children: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Man is unique in his ability to communicate ideas in symbolic language, and for centuries writing has been an important method of communication. Even in these days of self-correcting typewriters and the magic of computer word processing, written communication is a necessary competency.

In school, it is the usual medium through which students convey to teachers what they have learned. In many situations, adults also find writing a necessity that they cannot avoid. For a person with dysgraphia, writing can therefore be an uphill battle.

The word dysgraphia was coined from the Greek words dys meaning ill or difficult and graphein meaning to write. Dysgraphia can refer to extreme problems with handwriting, spelling, and written composition. It can also refer to severe handwriting difficulties only, as this article does. Synonyms for dysgraphia include motor agraphia, developmental motor agraphia, special writing disability, specific handwriting disability, specific learning disability in handwriting.

The problem is characterized by the following symptoms…

  • Generally illegible writing
  • Letter inconsistencies.
  • Mixture of upper/lower case letters or print/cursive letters.
  • Irregular letter sizes and shapes.
  • Unfinished letters.
  • Struggle to use writing as a communications tool.

What causes dysgraphia?

Most problems can only be solved if one knows what causes the problem. A disease such as scurvy claimed the lives of thousands of seamen during long sea voyages. The disease was cured fairly quickly once the cause was discovered, viz. a Vitamin C deficiency. A viable point of departure would therefore be to ask the question, “What is the cause of dysgraphia?”

To understand the cause of dysgraphia it is important to take note of the principle that human learning is a stratified process. This implies that certain skills have to be mastered first, before it becomes possible to master subsequent skills. One has to learn to count before it becomes possible to learn to add and subtract. In the same way, there are skills that a child must have mastered first, before he or she will be proficient in handwriting.

In her book Learning Disabilities: Theories, Diagnosis, and Teaching Strategies, Janet Lerner states that some of the underlying shortcomings that interfere with handwriting performance are (1.) poor motor skills, (2) faulty visual processing of letters and words, and (3.) difficulty in retaining visual impressions. The student’s problem may also be in cross-modal transfer from the visual to motor modalities.

How Edublox can help

Edublox offers multisensory cognitive enhancement programs, founded on pedagogical and neurological research and 30 years of experience demonstrating that weak underlying cognitive skills account for the majority of learning difficulties. Specific cognitive training can strengthen these weaknesses leading to increased performance in reading, spelling, writing, math and learning. Edublox’s writing programs aim at addressing the underlying shortcomings that interfere with spelling, writing and/or handwriting performance. Contact us for more information.

Hard work pays off! The writing below belonged to an eight-year-old German boy with severe perceptual-motor problems. His parents started with very intensive Edublox training in April. The second example was taken from his schoolwork three months later.

© Edublox
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“It’s been six months … and already she is one of the top performers in her class”

I was told that my daughter would never make it in a mainstream school and that she had to be transferred to a remedial school... She is getting 6's and 7's and she is in mainstream school. Continue Reading

Zan’s Mom, South Africa Edublox Online Tutor December 21, 2013

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