Dysgraphia is characterized by writing difficulties that include impaired handwriting, poor spelling, and difficulty selecting the right words to use.
What Is Dysgraphia?
Dysgraphia is a neurological condition wherein an individual experiences writing difficulties. Dysgraphia comes from the Greek word “dys” meaning “difficulty” and “graphia” meaning “writing”. It can affect both children and adults. However, when it occurs in adults it usually happens due to a brain injury or trauma. Diagnosing this condition (Dysgraphia Information Page) 1 and other associated learning disabilities is essential and it will enable the individual to get the treatments necessary to lead a normal life. The earlier the diagnosis, the sooner the patient can start their treatment. If left untreated, it can interfere with the individual’s self-esteem and mental health.
Read More About Dysgraphia Here
Types Of Dysgraphia
There are mainly 5 types of this condition that may occur in children. The symptoms may differ from one individual to another, depending on the condition. Some people may only have impaired writing while others may have impaired spelling. They may also have both conditions. The different types of dysgraphia are as follows:
1. Dyslexia Dysgraphia
Dyslexic dysgraphia is a condition characterized by illegible handwriting, spelling errors, and excellent copied work. For people with this condition, the written words that have not been copied from another source are illegible. On the other hand, copied writings or drawings are more prominent. Although the individual’s fine motor skill is normal, their spelling skills are comparatively poor. It is important to keep in mind that a person with dyslexia dysgraphia doesn’t necessarily have dyslexia. A 1995 study 2 has shown that cerebellar injury can cause symptoms of acquired dysgraphia indicating that it plays some role in the coordination of writing.
2. Motor Dysgraphia
Motor Dysgraphia is a condition characterized by deficient fine motor skills, poor dexterity, poor muscle tone, and unspecified motor clumsiness. In the case of short sample writings, the letter formation is quite acceptable. Writings and drawings tend to be more illegible and poor even when copied from another source. However, spelling abilities are acceptable. Finger tapping and speed results are below the normal level. A 2013 study 3 attempted to screen the warning signs of this condition in schoolchildren. The results showed that there are a large number of warning signs of this condition. Hence it is advisable to screen for these signs to implement early interventions.
3. Spatial Dysgraphia
This arises from issues with spatial awareness. The individual with this condition has difficulty understanding the spaces between the letters. They also may show difficulty staying within the lines on paper. All forms of handwriting and drawings are illegible. However, spelling skills are not impaired. A 1995 study 4 pointed out that the primary impairment in this subtype is related to the spatial perception that impaired spacing of letters and significantly impacted the ability to draw.
4. Phonological Dysgraphia
This condition is characterized by writing and spelling issues where the spelling of unfamiliar words, non-words, and phonetically irregular words are impaired. Individuals with phonological dysgraphia are often unable to memorize phonemes (a unit of sound that helps to differentiate one word from another) and tend to blend them in their appropriate sequence to write the targeted word.
5. Lexical Dysgraphia
Lexical dysgraphia is a condition that occurs when a person can spell but relies on their sound to letter patterns to write. This creates misspelling of irregular words. This type is a rare occurrence in children. It is more common in languages such as English and French that are less phonetic.
Treatment For Dysgraphia
There is no cure for this disorder. People who receive treatment often improve their writing skills. However, it may persist for some people but management strategies can ease the symptoms. If you find your child experiencing symptoms it is important to see a specialist in order to diagnose the condition. The doctor will devise a treatment plan in order to ease the symptoms. But there may be certain ways that can be adopted to manage the symptoms. The treatment methods adopted are as follows:
People with this disorder may also have associated conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 5 In such cases, medications may be prescribed for such comorbid conditions. A 2018 study 6 pointed out that these medications are used as primary or monotherapy for the treatment of ADHD. With the use of alpha 2 agonists, symptoms may respond over the course of 1-2 weeks.
2. Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapy is a treatment method used to treat patients who have physical, sensory, or cognitive problems. People can learn skills and techniques with occupational therapy to make writing easier in all types of dysgraphia. This therapy also helps the child to learn fine motor skills and relearn to hold a pen or pencil to facilitate better writing. A 2019 study 7 found that occupational therapy has proven to be effective in treating patients with this condition. Occupational therapy intervention for children promotes engagement and participation in children’s daily life roles.
3. Learning Strategies
Learning strategies are used to manage the conditions for all types of dysgraphia in the case of both children and adults. The strategies usually depend on their age and abilities. A 2018 study 8 pointed out that instructional strategies were found to be more effective for improving writing skills. The following strategies can help:
A. For students
- Trying different types of pens, pencils, and pencil grips
- Using paper with raised lines in order to stay within the lines
- Using printed outlines to easily take notes
B. For teachers
- Allowing plenty of time to complete assignments
- Prefilling in the name, date, and title of assignments
- Offering alternatives to written assignments
- Explaining how the assignments are graded
- Sharing previous assignments and grades
C. For completing assignments
- Using a dictation software when writing assignments 9 ))
- Getting a proofreader to check your work
- Using the computer to type an assignment
- Asking for time extension on assignments
Recovery From Dysgraphia
This condition is a learning disability that impairs one’s handwriting and spelling. This can have a significant impact on the individual’s life. It is important to keep in mind that there is no cure for this condition. But it is possible to manage the symptoms with learning strategies, occupational therapy and support.
- Dysgraphia information page. (2019). National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke | National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Dysgraphia-Information-Page
- Gubbay, S. S., & de Klerk, N. H. (1995). A study and review of developmental dysgraphia in relation to acquired dysgraphia. Brain & development, 17(1), 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1016/0387-7604(94)00110-j
- Martins, M. R., Bastos, J. A., Cecato, A. T., Araujo, M., Magro, R. R., & Alaminos, V. (2013). Screening for motor dysgraphia in public schools. Jornal de pediatria, 89(1), 70–74. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jped.2013.02.011
- Deuel R. K. (1995). Developmental dysgraphia and motor skills disorders. Journal of child neurology, 10 Suppl 1, S6–S8. https://doi.org/10.1177/08830738950100S103
- Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and ADHD
- Brown, K. A., Samuel, S., & Patel, D. R. (2018). Pharmacologic management of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents: a review for practitioners. Translational pediatrics, 7(1), 36–47. https://doi.org/10.21037/tp.2017.08.02
- Novak, I., & Honan, I. (2019). Effectiveness of paediatric occupational therapy for children with disabilities: A systematic review. Australian occupational therapy journal, 66(3), 258–273. https://doi.org/10.1111/1440-1630.12573
- Hebert, M., Kearns, D. M., Hayes, J. B., Bazis, P., & Cooper, S. (2018). Why Children With Dyslexia Struggle With Writing and How to Help Them. Language, speech, and hearing services in schools, 49(4), 843–863. https://doi.org/10.1044/2018_LSHSS-DYSLC-18-0024
- Implementation Innovative Technologies for the Dysgraphy Correction Computer Support (( Bryantceva, H., Dovbnya, E., & Chemerys, H. (2017). Implementation innovative technologies for the Dysgraphy correction computer support. Ukrainian Journal of Educational Studies and Information Technology, 5(4), 56-66. https://doi.org/10.32919/uesit.2017.04.05