Let’s take a look at what dysgraphia in kids may look like. Imagine a bright student in class who loves participating in everything and scores remarkable grades in all tasks.
But, when it comes to written assignments, the teacher has a real hard time figuring out what’s exactly written. The letters are of different sizes, the words are running together, and the sentences trail off in the middle without a complete thought.
His spelling tests are shockingly bad, even though he can always spell words out loud in class. All of this is beginning to influence his grades—and his self-esteem.
Facing this situation, the teacher mentions her thoughts to the school’s intervention counselor, and from where she discovers that her student might be struggling with a disorder called Dysgraphia.
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What is dysgraphia in Kids?
Dysgraphia is a cognitive disability that affects writing, both physical activity, and composition. It is often referred to as “disability of written expression” by psychologists.
This disorder affects both reasoning and motor skills, causing students to have trouble writing their thoughts on paper. Because several school assignments require writing in one way or another, Dysgraphia can create issues around the curriculum.
We cannot always identify the cause or trigger point of Dysgraphia, but mostly adverse life experiences can lead to Dysgraphia in kids. On the positive side, proper strategies can help your child overcome the challenges it presents once diagnosed.
Dysgraphia symptoms in kids
Incomprehensible handwriting is a typical symptom of Dysgraphia, but not all with sloppy writing are affected. Even if you have Dysgraphia, it is also possible to write neatly.
But the effort to write neatly may take you a long time and be quite hard to accomplish.
Other common traits of Dysgraphia in kids include:
● Misspelling or wrong capitalization
● Slanting handwriting consisting of both print and cursive letters
● Different sizing of each character
● Slow writing and difficulty in copying
● Difficulty in visualizing proper spacing between words
● Have a tight grip on pen or pencil, which causes hand cramps/ pencil pressure
● Sometimes omit characters and words.
Children diagnosed with Dysgraphia also have difficulties focusing on other tasks while writing. To produce the best handwriting they can, they need to focus on just writing at the moment.
This also makes it hard for them to write down homework instructions while the teacher is giving them. Anything that is mentioned while trying to write can and most likely will be overlooked.
These students can also be questioned about sloppiness or laziness, as their handwriting is not sound. These factors contribute to anxiety, lack of confidence, and self-esteem, eventually causing a negative school attitude.
If you are looking for ways to improve your child’s handwriting, reading my 10 easy ways to improve your child’s handwriting skills will help your child improve their writing skills while having fun.
What causes dysgraphia in kids?
When Dysgraphia occurs in childhood, the result is typically an orthographic coding problem. It is a working memory aspect that helps you recall written words forever and how your hands or your fingers need to function to write them.
Dysgraphia makes it harder for children to plan and write letters or words and form sentences. Kids have a hard time understanding how to read or pronounce characters or phrases or how to classify them.
Their brains have trouble with vocabulary and processing letter formational as well. Dysgraphia is typically caused by a stroke or other brain trauma, as it happens in adults.
The damage to the left parietal lobe of the brain will contribute in particular to this disability. In the upper portion of the brain, you have a left and right parietal lobe – these have various abilities, including reading and writing, and sensory support, including pain, heat, and cold.
Creating a dysgraphia friendly environment
Parents and teachers contribute the most to the rehabilitation of a child. As we already know that Dysgraphia in kids can cause trouble with reading and writing tasks.
One of the first steps is to take the necessary steps to have your child tested for Dysgraphia in your child. This will need to be done before your child can be properly treated.
Here is a link from understood.org to learn more about testing your child for dysgraphia.
Diagnosis of Dysgraphia in kids
It is crucial to be mindful that children with other learning disabilities, such as ADHD, can experience Dysgraphia as their focus is related to reading and writing abilities.
A successful diagnosis will help to see if one or more disorders need treatment.
With an assessment by either an occupational therapist or school-psychologist, parents may identify the cause of their child’s writing difficulties. These experts will allow parents to recognize the challenges and attributes of their child.
Accommodations at home
Occupational therapy is great for helping/ treating children with dysgraphia. OT’s can work to help kids improve their hand strength and fine motor coordination. The therapist will also discuss with you the need for accommodation in the home, if appropriate. For children, these accommodations for Dysgraphia can include:
- Using graphics paper or shift lined paper lateral while writing
- Change the instrument of writing
- Using convenient grips with the pencil
- Encouraging narration while writing
- Allow the use of Ipads or laptop
- Assist the student with breaking down writing tasks into smaller steps
- Give additional time to complete the writing tasks.
Accommodations at school
Students with Dysgraphia are often called ‘sloppy,’ or ‘lazy.’ But these students usually try very hard, if not harder than most, to be like the others. Dysgraphia in kids is an intangible disorder often preceded by dyslexia.
Students with dyslexia know acutely how they differ from their fellow students; the same is the case with students with Dysgraphia.
Try this to replicate the student’s experience: Write a few sentences about the best trip you’ve ever had. Give yourself a stopwatch for two minutes and write with your non-dominant hand.
Now how did that feel? Do you want to show that paragraph to everyone? Was this your best shot? Does this define your intellect?
These students may have spelling, handwriting, and orthographic problems, but what accommodations in the classroom will help them? Here are a few ways that teachers can make writing more straightforward in all aspects.
● Offer the students pencil grips or suggest different types of pencils to see which suits them the best.
● Give them prewritten/ pre-typed notes so they don’t have to copy everything from the board.
● Offer them more time when writing down something from the board.
● Allow them to use some sort of audio recorder to record the lectures.
● Provide them with adaptive paper that has raised lines to form the characters much more quickly.
● Provide them with graphs to solve math problems.
The above mentioned are just a few things that can support dysgraphia in kids. But most of all, it is essential to be innovative about accommodations and chat about their needs with the students.
The beneficial social-emotional impact in the classroom is sharpened by their school experience when students feel heard and valued.
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About the author
Erika is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant working in an elementary school setting. She wanted to create a blog and podcast that shows all sides of school-based learning. Her #1 focus is on providing parents of children with learning disabilities with relevant information in hopes of making each day a little more functional. So if you are interested in more content like this, please sign up below.