What is Dysgraphia?
In simple terms, dysgraphia is the inability to get thoughts from the brain
written onto paper correctly. As my editor can attest, dysgraphia can result in
some pretty gnarly sentences.
For example, take the sentence, "I really like to read funny books." A
dysgraphic child might write the sentence as, "I like read to red funny books."
When handwritten, the sentence may appear sloppy, and the words may slope up or
down the page.
The hardest thing for most parents and teachers to understand is when someone
with dysgraphia re-reads the offending sentence, his mind may tell him it's
written correctly. That is, when a dysgraphic person proofreads a messed-up
sentence, he may (depending on degree and type of dysgraphia) actually see, "I
really like to read funny books."
Until the errors are specifically pointed out, a dysgraphic student may not be
able to see his errors or omissions, and simply asking the child to repeatedly
re-read the sentence will only result in frustration for the student and
What are signs a child may be dysgraphic?
Some common symptoms include:
- Poor spelling
- Messy handwriting
- Uncomfortable pencil grip, or pain when writing
- Writing on an upward or downward slant
- Trouble forming letters (common examples include: reversing letters, mixing
uppercase and lowercase letters, or mixing cursive and print letters)
Read more about what to look for: http://www.ncld.org/types-learning-disabilities/dysgraphia/what-is-dysgraphia
What can I do if I suspect my child might be dysgraphic?
Unfortunately, many educators aren't trained to properly identify the signs that
a student may be dysgraphic. If you suspect your child may have this or any
other learning disability, you can request to have your child tested by an
expert trained to identify learning difficulties through your school district.
In the U.S., federal laws require that schools promptly acknowledge and comply
with your request for testing. In fact, if your child's school doesn't have
trained personnel available, they must pay for or arrange for an outside expert
to complete this testing at no cost to you.
In many other countries, schools are required to make needed accommodations and
offer special assistance to children with learning disabilities. In the U.S.
this is done by a formal evaluation process with results in a written
Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
While many schools work hard to assist students, some prefer to ignore these
obligations or provide as little assistance as possible. There are child
advocacy groups that can assist parents in getting the help their child needs.
These groups may contact the school on your child's behalf, attend meetings with
you, or in extreme cases, file formal complaints against the district.
Just remember, the time you spend securing the correct diagnosis and assistance
for your child will go a long way to ensuring that he or she has the proper
tools to be successful, not only in school, but in life. Your child is worth it!
Here are several websites with information and advice on getting your child the
help they deserve:
Outside the US: