Dysgraphia (Handwriting)

Also known as a visual-motor integration problem, people with dyslexia often have poor, nearly illegible handwriting. Signs of dysgraphia include:

Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects writing. Writing is not an easy skill. It requires the ability to organize and express ideas in the mind, but also requires the ability to get the muscles in the hands and fingers to form those ideas, letter by letter, on paper. Some signs are:

  • Unusual pencil grip, often with the thumb on top of the fingers (a "fist grip")
  • Young children will often put their head down on the desk to watch the tip of the pencil as they write The pencil is gripped so tightly that the child's hand cramps. The child will frequently put the pencil down and shake out his/her hand.
  • Writing is a slow, labored, non-automatic chore.
  • Child writes letters with unusual starting and ending points.
  • Child has great difficulty getting letters to "sit" on the horizontal lines.
  • Copying off of the board is slow, painful, and tedious. Child looks up and visually "grabs" just one or two letters at a time, repeatedly subvocalizes the names of those letters, then stares intensely at their paper when writing those one or two letters. This process is repeated over and over. Child frequently loses his/her place when copying, misspells when copying, and doesn't always match capitalization or punctuation when copying—even those the child can read what was on the board.
  • Unusual spatial organization of the page. Words may be widely spaced or tightly pushed together. Margins are often ignored.
  • Child has an unusually difficult time learning cursive writing, and shows chronic confusion about similarly-formed cursive letters such as f and b, m and n, w and u.
  • They will also have difficulty remembering how to form capital cursive letters.

Experts say teachers and parents should suspect dysgraphia if a child's handwriting is unusually difficult to read. Letters might be sized or spaced incorrectly. Capital letters might be in the wrong places. The child's hand, body or paper might be in a strange position. These can all be signs of dysgraphia. Spelling and reading problems can also be related to the disorder.

Experts are not sure what causes dysgraphia but they say early treatment can help prevent or reduce many problems.

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