What is dysgraphia? Dysgraphia is a brain based disorder that effects the writing of those suffering from it. Dysgraphia effects everything from the way you hold your pen to how you form letters, writing in a straight line, even if you can form your thoughts on paper.
For my own child “E”, dysgraphia primarily showed itself in two ways. The first way was his handwriting. My son in kindergarten had rough handwriting. All the kids do as they are first learning to form letters and make words. The difference is other children’s writing became more clear as they grew older. My son’s did not. We would get a summertime tutor to work on his writing style in hopes that it would become better. It did not. The second way dysgraphia became and issue was in what my son would write. For instance, the teacher may have them write about their summer vacation and what they did. My son would write, “I went to Disney World. It was in Florida. It was fun. I saw Micky Mouse.” That would be it. Another child in his class would have wrote about the same vacation, “This summer my family, and I went to see Walt Disney World in Florida. It was really hot and humid there. We had a lot of fun going on various rides. My favorite was the roller coaster. I also like the parades. I even got to meet Mickey Mouse and get my picture taken with him. I had a lot of fun.” See the difference?
If you were to verbally ask my son about the vacation he could recount it in detail. He just could not do it with writing. There are also other symptoms, but these were the two major and most noticeable ones. We tried for years to get his writing to be better. It didn’t help. If only we had known about dysgraphia. Dysgraphia is not a common diagnosis. Many think the child is lazy, rushing or not trying hard enough. This is not true. When a child is diagnosed with dysgraphia they maybe listed as having Specific Learning Disability instead of dysgraphia. Specific Learning Disability is the psychiatric term used along with the type or nature of disability like writing etc. Dysgraphia is often used as a short hand term for it by parents and teachers.
When a psychiatrist tested our son for dysgraphia, she told us that there was not much we could do to correct it. Some information online says early intervention can help with learning. In addition to written expression difficulties, people with dysgraphia also have trouble with many of their fine motor skills. Buttoning shirts, cutting or opening bottles and jars can be impossible. For my own child, we have to help him open things. He cannot twist off a pop/soda cap. He cannot peel off the anti-tampering cover of a yogurt. Tying shoes is also a problem. We were also told that he will never be able to take notes.
Fortunately, we were given a list of accommodations and modifications for the school year. One thing we did long ago was to teach our son how to type. He does a really great job at that. We also got him an ipad to work with in school. Instead of a paper planner he has everything on his I-pad. He can also take tests in alternative form, or get extra time. His teachers also give him hard copies of the notes in class, and other handouts. My son “E” also has longer assignments broken down into smaller pieces and check-ins a lot with the teacher.
He has many more accommodations. Please look at Pinterest to see more ideas for a 504 or IEP. Also check online for several dysgraphia resources.