What is dysgraphia?
Dysgraphia is a learning disorder. The problem is present from birth, but parents often notice learning and writing issues in the child when they start attending school.
In adults, what causes dysgraphia remains unknown but is most often seen after a head injury. The disorder causes them to lose previously acquired skills such as writing.
Children or adults with this disorder face difficulty storing and automatically retrieving letters and numerals. They are not able to plan and organize things.
Some of the symptoms of dysgraphia include
- Writing wrong or misspelling words persistently
- Using words that are not correct (using “boy” for “child”)
- Unclear, irregular or inconsistent handwriting
- Problems with grammar and composition
- Not writing within the margins
- Frequent erasing
- Slow in writing or copying things
- Inconsistency in letter and word spacing (sometimes letters or words are written far away from each other or sometimes quite near to each other)
- Tightly gripping the pen or pencil, which may lead to a sore hand or cramps in the hand
- Unusual and improper position of wrist, body or paper while writing
Dysgraphia is also referred to as “an impairment in written expression” in health insurance companies and most clinics. It can be seen existing with other conditions such as Tourette syndrome, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or an autism spectrum disorder.
What effect can dysgraphia have on the child?
Children with dysgraphia struggle so much with writing that they often miss important parts of the lecture while taking down notes. Because of their bad handwriting, they may appear lazy or sloppy. Frequent low grades in exams and constant warnings from the school authorities and parents to improve may shatter their confidence. As a result, such children may start losing interest in studies and schooling.
Is dysgraphia a form of dyslexia?
Dysgraphia is not a form of dyslexia. Both are different conditions. Dysgraphia involves difficulty writing, whereas in dyslexia, the child has difficulty reading. However, both disorders share a common element—misspellings in writing. Therefore, diagnosis may be difficult initially. Additionally, a person can have both dysgraphia and dyslexia.
Does dysgraphia go away?
Dysgraphia is a lifelong condition and no permanent cure is currently available. However, some therapies can help the affected children or adults write better.
Treatment differs from person to person. It depends on other health conditions or learning disabilities the person has. For example, if a child with dysgraphia also has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the doctor prescribes medications indicated for ADHD. Fortunately, this type of treatment has helped people who have dysgraphia along with ADHD.
Occupational therapy (OT) helps individuals with dysgraphia refine their motor skills and, thus, improve their writing. Some can get positive results from the therapy, whereas some remain the same.
How can parents help their child with dysgraphia?
Although occupational therapists and doctors treat dysgraphia, here are some things that parents can do at home to help their child with this disorder.
- Make writing a comfortable experience for them. Give them graph paper and pens/pencils with gripping aids.
- Teach them computer skills early. Instead of writing, allow them to use computers for typing.
- Do not criticize them for their bad handwriting. Motivate them to do better.
- Give them a squeeze ball and ask them to squeeze it tightly with their hands. This helps improve their fine motor skills.
Tourette Association of America
TP Translational Pediatrics
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