Most people at this point have heard of Dyslexia, and many are discovering that Dyslexia is not exactly seeing words backwards. Dyslexia is officially defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual as “a specific learning disorder in reading”. It is much more than “reading backwards” as it involves the phonemic awareness and phonological processing required for learning to break down word sounds to read. (More on this another day!)
But did you know that there are two other counterparts to Specific Learning Disorders? Dysgraphia and Dyscalculia. The first, Dysgraphia, is described as “a specific learning disorder in writing” and the latter, Dyscalculia, is “a specific learning disorder in arithmetic.” To put it in simple terms, learning differences can be subdivided into 3 categories: reading, writing, and math.
For our purposes, we will be focusing on the learning difference in writing. Dysgraphia impacts both the ability to physically write as well as the thought processes that go into writing. Basically, our brain generates the “idea” for writing, then directs the hand to produce the written output. When someone has Dysgraphia, the neural connections (within the brain and body) for this process may be slower or disrupted. Dysgraphia impacts the physical act of holding a pencil and forming letters as well as the process of organizing our plethora of thoughts in our brain to form sentences and write these thoughts onto paper. Who knew so much goes into the act of writing?!
If you or your child experiences fatigue when writing, poor handwriting legibility, difficulty with initiation of writing, incorrect spelling or sentence skills, slow labored writing, awkward hand positions when writing, omitting letters/words in sentences, or frustration with writing tasks, a Dysgraphia diagnosis will need to be ruled out. A neuropsychologist or educational psychologist can provide a diagnosis. An occupational therapist (our tutor is an OT!) should also be consulted to provide evaluation and feedback. At Handwriting Solutions, we can look at how the child’s fine motor skills, visual perception and visual motor skills, gross motor skills, overall motor planning and organization, cognition, and other aspects are impacting his/her writing.
Be on the lookout for more information about Dysgraphia in future blog posts and webinars on our Facebook page. If you have or suspect a Dysgraphia diagnosis, we suggest early intervention with a qualified occupational therapist including a handwriting assessment with our OT/handwriting tutor: email@example.com.