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Dysgraphia: More Than Just Bad Handwriting

By: Voice of America
Teachers and parents should suspect dysgraphia if a child's handwriting is unusually difficult to read. Find out more about this neurological problem that can cause physical pain as some children struggle to write.

Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects writing.

Writing is not an easy skill. Not only does it require the ability to organize and express ideas in the mind. It also requires the ability to get the muscles in the hands and fingers to form those ideas, letter by letter, on paper.

Experts say teachers and parents should suspect dysgraphia if a child's handwriting is unusually difficult to read. Letters might be sized or spaced incorrectly. Capital letters might be in the wrong places. The child's hand, body or paper might be in a strange position. These can all be signs of dysgraphia. Spelling problems can also be related to the disorder.

Many people have poor handwriting, but dysgraphia is more serious. Dsygraphia is a neurological disorder that generally appears when children are first learning to write. Writing by hand can be physically painful for people who have it. There are different kinds of dysgraphia. And it can appear with other learning disabilities, especially involving language.

Experts are not sure what causes it. But they say early treatment can help prevent or reduce many problems. For example, special exercises can increase strength in the hands and improve muscle memory. This is training muscles to remember the shapes of letters and numbers.

Children can try a writing aid like a thick pencil to see if that helps. Schools can also provide simple interventions like more time to complete writing activities or assistance from a note taker. Teachers could have students with dysgraphia take tests by speaking the answers into a recorder, or type their work instead of writing it.

Children with dysgraphia might be able to avoid the problems of handwriting by using a computer. Yet experts say they could still gain from special instruction to help them organize their thoughts and put them into writing. Such skills become more important as children get older and schoolwork becomes more difficult.

Steinbach, Nancy (Writer) and Ember, Steve (Reporter). (2008, Feb. 6). Dysgraphia: More Than Just Bad Handwriting. Voice of America. Retrieved from: http://learningenglish.voanews.com/content/a-23-2008-02-06-voa2-83139487/129237.html.

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Comments

Dysgraphia is as you say more than bad handwriting, but there are many things you can do to help. Pencil grips are brilliant because you cannot fail to hold the pen in the correct way. There is also a pen call 'PenAgain ErgoSof Pen', which is brilliant and children (and adults) like it. Looks totally different than a pen - feels nice to handle and you are holding it correctly. There are other things that can help. I will be happy to add any more, if anyone is interested.

Coming from an Occupational Therapist who works with children every day, this is a diagnosis that fits several children who have no other explanation for their difficulties. I appreciate the research that has gone into categorizing this disability, and the recommendations that are generated as a result. This information really helps these kids get the services and support they need to succeed. We are MUCH better off then we were even 100 years ago.

I am an occupational therapist as well. While I do agree that more research into dysgraphia is good and more is still needed, I do find that there are times when the diagnosis is just thrown on as a label for the student without really looking into whether it is a learning disability or whether it is under-developed fine motor, visual motor, visual perceptual skills and lack of proper instruction on handwriting formation which I find more and more often in schools as teaching is moving away from the basics to make room for teaching to standardized tests.

I have a son that has greatly improved by learning how to play an instrument. I took him out of his dysgraphia classes in the 6th grade and gave him a clarinet. He went from F's to making A's and B's. He has even earned a scholarship for college without the use of a computer. His writing is now legible. Musical instruments are great for retraining the brain through eye hand cordination. Begin learning an instrument as soon as you can. You will see and feel the difference. Also, don't let anyone talk you out of it. There have been many studies on how playing an instrument can improve any form of dyslexia. I should know as dyslexia runs throughout our family and everyone here plays an instrument.

Thank you for this website/article that I just found. I was unaware of this condition until just this week and my son is now going to be a 4th grader. He has always struggled with writing (handwriting and writing assignments). In 2nd grade his teacher said when it came time to write a small story he put his head down and sobbed. I kept working with him, signing him up for classes and working with him at home (workbooks for writing skills) but with minimal progress. Honestly, I don't know how to have him diagnosed but to start with his pediatrician. But, I feel there is more hope for getting him the help he needs so he is not constantly struggling in this area.

I too am a teacher who has experienced a child with these continual struggles, I was very glad to find this article so that maybe I can help this one child not feel so frustrated with his writing.

My son has always had poor handwriting and spelling. He loves to read, but hates to write. He is 10 yrs. old and in the 5th grade. I homeschool him, and have wondered for a long time if this could be more than laziness. I have only recently heard of Dysgraphia, and am curious if he may fit into this catagory. He loves reading and playing legos, but still has trouble tying his shoes. His main trouble is with spelling and writing. Everything else is fine.

Kim....Kudoos to you!! I am in a similar situation, except my son is 15. His kindergarten teacher told me that he had this problem, although "back then" it was called a "written expression disability"...Through all of his years in school, no one would recognize this as his problem. The only diagnosis I was ever able to get is that he has ADHD. Your persistence is vital to your child's success, and it will be the only way to advocate for him, for no one else will.

My son is 9 years old and 2 years ago was diagnosed with ADHD, although he excels in every one of the subjects in school, writing and spelling continue to be an issue. No matter how much he practices, he spaces his letters far apart, doesn't capitalize in the correct place, and after reading this and several other articles I feel more at ease about why he is having difficulty. I know it will be a long road for him and he will continue to struggle. But at least I know why. Thank you.

I have an 11 year old in 5 th grade, with absolutely poor handwriting. He spells great orally, but the words he write are spelled miserably wrong! Capitals are always forgotten and spacing is a mess. Sizes of letters are a challenge and it is very frustrating and discouraging to any writing assignments! We started typing lessons and hope it helps with his writing assignments.
How do I go about having my son tested and treated?

Have had Dysgraphia all my life
Teachers always said it was laziness carelessness
self diagnosed
always has hurt to write or type

Its is worse now that I am older
filling out paperwork is torture

Still cant believe I had to figure this out on my own.

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