What to do when children have trouble with writing: Dysgraphia

“Jack was in the third grade when his mother called me. She said Jack was frustrated in school, spending time with the principal almost daily. When he had to put pencil to paper, he has a meltdown, crumpling and shredding papers he was expected to hand in. His spelling was poor, his handwriting barely legible. Yet Jack was a very bright boy. What was going on?”

While I have not personally come in to contact with a situation mimicking the above case study it sounds exactly like one of my roommate’s students!

Dysgraphia is a neurological disorder that involves writing. According to the article some characteristics include:
• Difficulty with the physical aspects of handwriting
• Spelling difficulties
• Grammar difficulties
• Putting thoughts on paper
• Difficulty writing within margins
• Letter reversals
• Inconsistent spacing between words

The article is short, but powerful for educators. Osman recommends that teachers:
• Change the demands of the writing rate
• Enable the student to dictate to another individual
• Provide a writing binder that includes models and templates for writing assignments
• Turn lined paper sideways to help with lining up columns of numbers
• Stress quality over quantity of writing
• Develop cooperative writing projects (team writing or story telling)
• Offer alternatives- oral or visual projects

She also notes that, “children with dysgraphia benefit from direct instruction or remediation”.

Students with dysgraphia often have self esteem issues; it is important to use positive praise with these students and to acknowledge gains in writing fluency and hard work.

The full article can be found at http://www.vtpic.com/downloads/fact_dysgraphia.pdf

Posted by Liz McOuat