What Is Dysgraphia? By: National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects writing abilities. It can manifest itself as difficulties with spelling, poor handwriting 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.
The 5 Types of Dysgraphia Dyslexic Dysgraphia With Dyslexic Dysgraphia a person’s spontaneously written work is illegible, copied work is pretty good, and spelling is bad. Finger tapping speed (a method for identifying fine motor problems) is normal. A Dyslexic Dysgraphic does not necessarily have Dyslexia. Dyslexia and Dysgraphia appear to be unrelated but often can occur together.
Motor Dysgraphia Motor Dysgraphia is due to deficient fine motor skills, poor dexterity, poor muscle tone, and/or unspecified motor clumsiness. Generally, written work is poor to illegible, even if copied by sight from another document. Letter formation may be acceptable in very short samples of writing, but this requires extreme effort, an unreasonable amount of time to accomplish and cannot be sustained for a significant length of time. Writing is often slanted due to holding a pen or pencil incorrectly. Spelling skills are not impaired.
Spatial Dysgraphia Spatial Dysgraphia is due to a defect in the understanding of space. This person has illegible spontaneously written work, illegible copied work, but normal spelling and normal finger tapping speed. Students with Spatial Dysgraphia often have trouble keeping their writing on the lines and difficulty with spacing between words.
Phonological Dysgraphia Phonological Dysgraphia is characterized by writing and spelling disturbances in which the spelling of unfamiliar words, non-words, and phonetically irregular words is impaired. Individuals with Phonological Dysgraphia are also unable to hold phonemes in memory and blend them in their appropriate sequence to produce the target word.
Lexical Dysgraphia Lexical Dysgraphia is evidenced when a person can spell but relies on standard sound-to-letter patterns with misspelling of irregular words. This is more common in languages such as English and French which are less phonetic than a language such as Spanish. This type of Dysgraphia is very rare in children. Some children may have more than one type of Dysgraphia. Symptoms, in actuality, may vary in presentation from what is listed here.
Dysgraphia and the US Public School System It is often thought that continued handwriting practice will improve a Dysgraphic student’s ability to use paper and pencil alone as a useful tool to complete all their written schoolwork. In cases of Dysgraphia, “practice does not make perfect.” Also, as these students get older and written demands continue to increase each year, it is very common for these students to often write the minimum just to “get by” and their attitude about school and themselves can be negatively impacted to a significant degree.
What are the 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 developmental 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 the areas below, additional help may be beneficial. We provide private tutoring services or can make recommendations to useful tools to use at home. Tight, awkward pencil grip and body position Illegible, uneven or sloppy handwriting Avoiding writing or drawing tasks Tiring quickly while writing Saying words out loud while writing Unfinished or omitted words in sentences Large gap between written ideas and understanding demonstrated through speech. Inconsistency in spelling. falling behind with written schoolwork and cannot keep up with written assignments independently Experiences physical pain/hand cramping when writing Has difficulty reading what they have written Spends an inordinate amount of time completing class assignments Spends too much time after school/at night completing homework Has written content that does not “match” their thought content Shows continued frustration/avoidance behaviors/crying/stress when asked to complete written assignments Requires someone to write much of their written schoolwork for them (a scribe) Requires accommodations at school such as reduced assignments and oral answers Difficulty: Organizing thoughts on paper With syntax structure and grammar Leaving consistent spacing between letters and words Writing on a line or within margins Copying letters and numbers neatly and accurately Writing/printing neatly and without a lot of cross-outs and erasures Expressing written ideas in an organized way Preparing outlines and organizing written work Thinking of words to write Remembering to use all the words he intends to in his written work Focusing on the meaning of what he writes; (because of the physical demands during writing) Maintaining energy and easy posture when writing/drawing Aligning numbers correctly when doing math problems