Dysgraphia It is a learning disability that affects writing abilities. It can manifest itself as difficulties with spelling, poor hand writing, and trouble putting thoughts on paper. Because writing requires a complex set of motor and information processing skills, saying a student has dysgraphia is not sufficient. A student with disorders in written expression will benefit from specific accommodations in the learning environment, as well as additional practice learning the skills required to be an accomplished writer.
What are the Warning Signs of Dysgraphia? Just having bad handwriting doesn't mean a person has dysgraphia. Since dysgraphia is a processing disorder, difficulties can change throughout a lifetime. However, since writing is a developemental process-children learn the motor skills needed to write, while learning the thinking skills needed to communicate on paper-difficulties can also overlap.
If a person has trouble in any of these areas below, additional help may be beneficial. 1. Tight, awkward pencil grip and body position. 2. Illegible handwriting. 3. Avoiding wrting or drawing tasks. 4. Tiring quickly while writing. 5. Saying words out loud while writing. 6. Unfinished or omitted words in sentences. 7. Difficulty organizing thoughts on paper. 8. Difficulty with syntax structure and grammar. 9. Large gap between written ideas and understanding demonstrated through speech.
What Strategies Can Help? Accommodations: providing alternatives to written expression. Modifications: changing expectations or tasks to minimize or avoid the area of weakness. Remediation: providing instruction for improving handwriting and writing skills. Each type of strategy should be considered when planning instruction and support. A person with dysgraphia will benefit from help from both specialists and those who are closest to the person. Finding the most beneficial type of support is a process of trying different ideas and openly exchanging thoughts on what works best.
Be patient and positive, encourage practice and praise effort-becoming a good writer takes time and praise. Encourage practice through low-stress opportunities for writing such as letters, a diary/journals, making lists or keeping track of sports teams. Some tips: Allow use of print or cursive-whichever is more comfortable. Use large graph paper for math calculation to keep columns and rows organized. Allow extra time for writing assignments. Do not judge timed assignmnets on spelling or neatness. Encourage use of spell check. Have students proofread work after a delay-it's easier to see mistakes after a break. Have students complete tasks in small steps instead of all at once. Find alternative means of assessing knowledge, such as oral reports or visual projects. Reduce amount of copying-photocopied notes Use assistive technology, such as voice activated software if the mechanical aspects of writing remain a major hurdle.
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