This article was reprinted with permission from the May, 2011, issue of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter (http://www.2eNewsletter.com).
Q. What is dysgraphia?
A. Dysgraphia is a learning disability that involves difficulty with writing. This processing disorder can affect one or more of these abilities:
Q. Does having bad handwriting mean that a person has dysgraphia?
A. Not necessarily. Some individuals with dysgraphia can print very neatly, but it takes them a great deal of time and effort to do so.
Q. How can you tell if your child has dysgraphia?
A. The child will probably be much better able to communicate ideas through speech rather than through writing. Other signs may include:
Q. What are the effects of dysgraphia on a child?
A. Children with dysgraphia often suffer emotional stress. They are likely to feel frustration over their inability to do what their classmates can do and may be unfairly criticized for being sloppy, inattentive, careless, or lazy in their work. Students are also likely to fall behind with school work, which may lead not only to poor grades but also to anxiety or depression.
Q. What causes dysgraphia?
A. Writing is a highly complex process that involves various senses, muscles, and parts of the brain. Problems in any of these can result in writing difficulties. In his book, Developmental Variation and Learning Disorders, Dr. Mel Levine identified seven types of neurodevelopmental problems that can cause writing difficulties, as shown below.
Q. How is dysgraphia diagnosed?
A. Dysgraphia is typically diagnosed by a professional, such as a physician or licensed psychologist, who specializes in the as-sessment and diagnosis of learning disabilities. Other professionals, such as an occupational therapist, school psychologist, or special educator, may also be involved. Among the tests often included in an evaluation for dysgraphia are:
According to the International Dyslexia Association, children who are twice exceptional — gifted and dysgraphic — are especially under-diagnosed and underserved because teachers mistakenly assume that if a student is bright and cannot write it is because the student is not trying.
Q. What can be done to help a child who has dysgraphia?
A. Three common options are:
Children with dyslexia can also benefit from direct instruction in spelling, grammar, and composition.
Q. Is it common for children with dysgraphia to have other learning disabilities as well?
A. Dysgraphia may occur alone, but it’s not unusual to find it with these other learning disabilities:
Q. How common is dysgraphia?
A. According to Drs. Fernette and Brock Eide in their book The Mislabeled Child, as many as one in five children (more commonly boys) have difficulty expressing themselves through writing.
The following resources were consulted for this article:
This article is reprinted with permission from the 2e Newsletter and the author.
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