What is Dysgraphia?
In order to understand how to help children with dysgraphia, we must understand what dysgraphia is. Dysgraphia, according to the Oxford English dictionary, is a general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but that does not affect general intelligence.
Wikipedia describes dysgraphia as a writing disorder associated with impaired handwriting, orthographic coding (orthography, the storing process of written words and processing the letters in those words) and finger sequencing (the movement of muscles required to write. )
It is important to determine if a child with dysgraphia may also have dyslexia which requires special help with reading and require special help with oral as well as written language. Dysgraphia is not to be confused with dyspraxia, which is a more general difficulty with motor skills coordination and not primarily a writing-related disorder.
Types of dysgraphia
Some researchers have described sub-categories of dysgraphia in order to study it better, such as “surface dysgraphia” or “deep dysgraphia.” These recognize that weaknesses in different types of processing may be responsible for the problem, such as motor control, visual perception and spelling difficulties.
Dysgraphia affects a student’s ability to write coherently, regardless of their ability to read. Other researchers have identified 3 different types of dysgraphia. These include:
Type 1: “Dyslexia dysgraphia” where written work that is created spontaneously is illegible, copied work is good and spelling is poor. A student with “dyslexia dysgraphia” does not necessarily have dyslexia.
Type 2: “Motor dysgraphia” is a condition caused by poor fine-motor skills, poor dexterity and/or poor muscle tone. Generally written work is poor to illegible, even if it is copied from another source. Letter formation may be legible in very short samples of writing. However, this is usually after extreme efforts and the dedication of unreasonable amounts of time on the student’s part. Spelling skills are not impaired.
Type 3: “Spatial dysgraphia” is the condition is caused by a defect in spatial awareness. Students may have illegible spontaneously written work as well as illegible copied work. Spelling skills are generally not impaired.
A high proportion of both primary and secondary children who have poor handwriting are often labelled as suffering from ‘dysgraphia’. Experts are not sure what causes this. The general consensus is that early intervention can help prevent or reduce the problems.
The International Dyslexia Association state that pupils with dysgraphia require early intervention or specialised instruction in all the relevant skills that are interfering with their learning of written language.
How to help?
Many schools do not have systematic instructional programmes in handwriting and spelling and it is important to assess whether children need easily understandable, systematic instruction in handwriting and spelling in addition to word reading and decoding. Students may also need ongoing, explicit instruction in handwriting, spelling, and composition.
The Magic Link Handwriting Programme provides clear and concise handwriting instructions. The focus is on handwriting as well as spelling patterns. Proven results have helped thousands of pupils with dysgraphia, dyspraxia and dyslexia. The programme is colour -coded and presented one vowel at a time so children can learn the formation of each of the 5 vowels and its combination at a time.
Children with dysgraphia often hate writing by the time they are diagnosed. They need a fun way and logical way of learning handwriting skills. These can then be incorporated into their school and homework. The Magic Link Programme has relevant ‘Top Tips’ which teach crucial skills to both primary and secondary school pupils and provides the clear repetition to succeed in learning neat, cursive, joined-up handwriting.