Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. —Kofi Annan
Clinton has dysgraphia and I can tell you first hand how frustrated he gets, it is though he is often fighting with his own hands to work at times. He has trouble not only holding a pendcil, but holding it correctly and maintaining the correct hold. He has trouble cutting, stirring or mixing his food together. More times than not he asks me for help tying his shoes and while I will never refuse helping him, it really did not have to be this way. Clinton was receiving Occupational Therapy at school in 30 minute sessions twice a week from the age of three until the age of nine. In my heart I knew he wasn’t ready to be discharged however the schools Occupational Therapist was very combative and I felt even continuing sessions with her would not yield progress as she had taken her stance and made up her mind. It is something that frustrates me because when it comes to Occupational Therapy you have a small window before patterns are set to change them. Though I could continue Occupational Therapy for Clinton I have decided not to, reason being he already has so much on his plate that I prefer him in the classroom versus being pulled out for Occupational Therapy sessions.
Though the picture below is not of Clinton’s handwriting this is similar to what it looks like at its worst and by worst I mean when he is tired after a long day. It is a shame to say but a lot of people would assume handwriting this poor is a sign of low intelligence or illiteracy and that just is not the case. This is why proper accomadations and modifications are so necessary in the classroom, it can take the light off the child when it comes to something they struggle with and allow it to shine on their strengths. In this day and age with all the technology, therapists, services and resources it’s unacceptable that people with these diagnosis still struggle in school and life. The information below is take from understood.org which is an amazing resource of information and support.
What Is Dysgraphia?
Many experts view dysgraphia as an issue with a set of skills known as transcription. These skills include handwriting, typing, and spelling.
Trouble expressing yourself in writing isn’t part of dysgraphia. But when kids have to focus so much on transcription, it can get in the way of thinking about ideas and how to convey them.
One of the main signs of dysgraphia is messy handwriting. These are some of the key handwriting skills kids may struggle with:
- Forming letters
- Spacing letters correctly on the page
- Writing in a straight line
- Making letters the correct size
- Holding paper with one hand while writing with the other
- Holding and controlling a pencil or other writing tool
- Putting the right amount of pressure on the paper with a writing tool
- Maintaining the right arm position and posture for writing
Trouble forming letters can make it hard to learn spelling. That’s why many kids with dysgraphia are poor spellers. They may also write very slowly, which can affect how well they can express themselves in writing.
How to Find Out If Your Child Has Dysgraphia
For years, dysgraphia was an official diagnosis. It no longer is. (But there is a diagnosis called specific learning disorder with impairment in written expression. This refers to trouble expressing thoughts in writing, rather than transcription difficulties.)
Evaluators still have ways to identify the transcription challenges, though. Some tests for writing include subtests for spelling. There are also tests for fine motor skills (the ability to make movements using the small muscles in our hands and wrists). And there are tests for motor planning skills (the ability to remember and perform steps to make a movement happen).
A few types of professionals evaluate kids who have trouble writing. Occupational therapists and physical therapists can test motor skills. So can specialists who work with kids who have developmental coordination disorder (DCD).
Trouble with writing can be caused by other learning challenges, too. For example, poor spelling can be the result of reading difficulties like dyslexia. Poor handwriting might be caused by DCD (sometimes referred to as dyspraxia).
To get the right help for your child, it’s important to know what’s causing your child’s difficulties. A free school evaluation can help you understand these challenges, along with your child’s strengths.
What Can Help With Dysgraphia
There are a number of things that can help your child with dysgraphia challenges. These include supports and services at school, therapies outside of school, and strategies you can try at home.
Here are some common types of help for dysgraphia.
Therapies: Occupational therapy (OT) is the main way to help kids who struggle with handwriting. Therapists can work with kids to improve fine motor skills and motor planning. Physical therapy can help with arm position and posture.
Supports at school: Kids with dysgraphia may get help at school through an IEP or a 504 plan. There are a number of accommodations for writing. Kids may also get assistive technology and other tools. These can range from simple pencil grips to dictation software.
Here are some additional links that I have found beneficial.
Now I understand there is a fair amount of information here and it is easy to feel overwhelmed but please do not. If you have concerns that your child might have Dysgraphia I strongly urge to seek private, outside testing by a neural party whose only interest is facts and data to show what your child truly needs. Stay strong, you got this.