Understanding dysgraphia

WHAT IS DYSGRAPHIA?

Dysgraphia is a Greek word.  The base word “graph” refers both to the hand’s function in writing and to the letters formed by the hand.  the prefix “dys” indicates that there is impairment.  ”Graph” refers to producing letters formed by hand.  The suffix “ia” refers to having a condition.  Thus, dysgraphia is the condition of impaired letter writing by hand, that is, disabled handwriting.  Impaired handwriting can interfere with learning to spell words in writing and speed of writing text.  Children with dysgraphia may only have impaired handwriting, only impaired spelling (without reading problems), or both impaired handwriting and impaired spelling.

WHAT CAUSES DYSGRAPHIA?

Research to date has shown orthographic coding in working memory is related to handwriting and is often impaired in dysgraphia.  ORTHOGRAPHIC CODING refers to the ability to store written words in working memory while the letters in the word are analyzed or the ability to create permanent memory of written words linked to their pronunciation and meaning. Children with dysgraphia do not have primary developmental motor disorder, another cause of poor handwriting, but may have difficulty planning sequential finger movements such as the touching of the thumb to successive fingers on the same hand without visual feedback.

DOES DYSGRAPHIA OCCUR ALONE OR WITH OTHER SPECIFIC LEARNING DISABILITIES?

Children with impaired handwriting may also have attention-deficit disorder (ADHD)- inattentive, hyperactive, or combined inattention and hyperactive subtypes.  Children with this kind of dysgraphia may respond to a combination of explicit handwriting instruction plus stimulant medication, but appropriate diagnosis of ADHD bya qualified professional and monitoring of response to both instruction and medication are needed.  It may also occur alone or with dyslexia or with oral and written language learning disability.

WHAT KINDS OF INSTRUCTIONAL ACTIVITIES IMPROVE THE HANDWRITING OF CHILDREN WITH DYSGRAPHIA?

*  playing with clay to strengthen hand muscles

*  keeping lines within mazes to develop motor control

* connecting dots or dashes to create complete letter forms

*  tracing letters with index finger or eraser end of a pencil

*  copying letters from models

*  sky writing (gross motor activity)

** Several other activities can be recommended

DO CHILDREN WITH DYSGRAPHIA MAKE REVERSALS OR OTHER LETTER PRODUCTION ERRORS?

YES.  Some children make reversals (reversing direction letter faces along a vertical axis), inversions (flipping letters along a horizontal axis so that the letter is upside down), or transpositions (sequence of letters in a words is out of order).  These errors are symptoms rather than causes of handwriting problems.

 

INFORMATION ABOVE IS ABBREVIATED AND CAN BE FOUND IN “Just the Facts…” provided by The International Dyslexia Association  email: info@interdys.org     or     website: http:  www.interdys.org

 

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