20 Feb 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, and is used to describe a severe problem with handwriting. 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 motors 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.
Edublox’s Dysgraphia Program consists of Reading Tutor plus a few additional hands-on exercises. Reading Tutor aims at addressing the underlying shortcomings that interfere with handwriting performance, such as poor visual processing and poor visual memory. The program also comprises a comprehensive exercise aimed at teaching reading and spelling, and at expanding vocabulary. The additional exercises, free of charge, aim at developing motor skills and improving hand strength. To implement the program you need to subscribe to Reading Tutor, and then contact [email protected] to gain access to the additional exercises.
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.