What type is it?
Dyslexic dysgraphia- This is when written text is illegible, particularly when writing something more involved like a story or essay, not answers to questions in reading or science, etc. Oral spelling is poor, but being able to draw and copy written text is pretty normal. Finger tapping is normal, no trouble. – If this one then we want to look more at his reading and make sure there isn’t a mild form of dyslexia and not noticeable now, but come grade 4 or 5 would become extremely apparent.
Motor dysgraphia- Whether the writing is spontaneous or copied text, it is illegible, oral spelling is good, not perfect, but drawing is difficult. Finger tapping is difficult resulting in below normal
Spatial Dysgraphia- Writing is illegible whether it is spontaneous or copied. Oral spelling is good, not perfect, drawing is difficult, but finger tapping is normal, no trouble.
*Finger tapping- how quickly a person can tap their index finger in a 10 second period
Treatments and Aids
There are common things to help but knowing which one helps know if there are specific skills that need to be addressed. For all, it is recommended that they learn to use a word processor for writing. It is also recommended that they learn cursive earlier because cursive doesn’t require the picking up of a pencil and having to figure out where to re-place the pencil to continue. It also may help to try out a variety of pencil grips to find one that is comfortable and helps to use the proper grip when learning cursive. All letters in cursive start on the line, which deals with the spatial end and eliminates one of the confusions when writing. Cursive is difficult to reverse the letters and word spacing is not as much an issue because of the flow of cursive. Cursive gives that natural flow and rhythm. If there are motor difficulties are aided by the opportunity to more easily distinguish between the b,d,p, and q because these letters are very different in cursive.
It is important to use more kinesthetic whole movements when learning the letters. Coming up with a description for how the letter is made. For instance a cursive e, you might say, “up to the midline, curl around and back down to the line.” While saying, you would have them doing a full body arm movement to create that letter shape. Also, drawing the letters on their back, on your back, etc. Handwriting Without Tears is an excellent program for dysgraphia and is highly recommended for it, but you will want to do the full whole movements as well. After learning several letters and beginning to put words together, they would write those letters in the air. Handwriting without tears shares some different important connecting shapes to practice and learn. These would want to be practiced with these whole body movements, not just on paper.
If motor dysgraphia, we need to work on strengthening the hands along with these other techniques. This can be done best with what they call theraputty or therapy putty. It has different levels and is meant to be used to strengthen all the muscles of the hands to have better control over finger movements.
Accommodations at school
· Allow more time for written tasks
· Begin assignments early
· Allow elective course for spending this extra time on assignments and catching up, maybe as a “teacher aide or library aide”
· Keyboarding for increasing speed and legibility for work.
· Use templates for assignments
· Notes with blanks instead of having to take all notes on their own. Give student the teacher notes with words missing.
· Dictate assignments with a scribe that will write what the student says verbatim.
· Remove neatness and/or spelling from grading criteria for some assignments
· Allow shorthand in some writing like w/o (without) or b/c (because), encourage them to use shorthand for notes.
· Use computer to create rough draft and copy that rought draft into a new document to revise and turn in revised copy and unrevised for rough draft.
· Cursive taught earlier and used earlier.
· Use raised line paper -you can buy or create this by taking regular paper, or handwriting paper and puting a thin strip of glue along the bottom line.
· Don’t be picky about writing utensil, let them choose, but mechanical pencils are usually bad.
· Use graph paper orturn lined paper sdeways for math to line up columns of numbers.
· Fun grips or larger pencils
· Speech Recognition Software like Dragon Speak Naturally for older students, but should not replace working on handwriting. Everyone needs to be able to write legibly.
It may also become important to limit the amount of written response required, providing alternative assignments to the written form or shortening written assignments. This is a modification instead of an accommodation.