Dysgraphia Testing and Treatment
What is Dysgraphia?
Let’s use helpful reading skills and figure it out through our latin word roots. Dys- is the latin root with the meaning “bad status, difficult, impaired.” “Graph- means “to write.” So, dysgraphia is a disorder related to difficult or impaired writing. In everyday life, this could include difficulties with:
- Spacing letters accurately
- Mixing upper and lower case letters
- Frequent erasing
- Unusual position of wrist, body, or paper when writing
- Writing in a straight line
- Slow writing or copying
- Properly gripping and using writing utensils
- Dysgraphia tends to be a more general term
- Letter formation
- Trouble thinking and writing at the same time/putting thoughts on paper
- Grammar mistakes/misused words
Signs of dysgraphia often occur in children from the time they start writing, but scientists are still unsure of why exactly the disorder occurs in children.
Psychoeducation Evaluation for Dysgraphia
Dysgraphia is often used interchangeably with the term “Disorder of Written Expression.” Dysgraphia often co-occurs with other disorders such as ADHD, dyslexia, Developmental Coordination Disorder, and Expressive Language Disorder. That’s why it’s best to undergo a comprehensive psychoeducational evaluation to determine all areas of struggle so that recommendations can be tailored as needed. A good evaluation of dysgraphia includes:
- Use of words
- Ability to write a logical narrative
- Fine motor skills
- Exploration of other conditions that often co-occur with dysgraphia such as:
Treatment for Dysgraphia
While Dysgraphia often cannot be fully cured, significant improvement can be made if intervention occurs early. Common treatments for dysgraphia include occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT). Early intervention is extremely helpful, but even adults can benefit from these services. Writing issues also often co-occur with dyslexia or reading issues. Because of this, learning skills such as decoding can help with related abilities like spelling. Additionally, classroom accommodations can be helpful for children. Some examples include using paper with raised lines, using graph paper, use of dictation software, providing special pencil grips or pens, reducing the amount of writing/copying needed on assignments, and giving typed copies of notes to reduce the need for handwriting. In older students or adults, getting teacher notes or being able to use a laptop for typing can be helpful.
How to Help Kids with Dysgraphia
Parents can help with writing skills at home by helping children practice their pencil grip, leading them through use of graphic organizers for writing, teaching strategies for note-taking, and teaching self-regulation skills related to writing. Such task regulation skills might include helping the child to define what the writing task is (task analysis), setting a goal for writing in their mind (goal setting), creating a clear plan/decreasing distractibility (task management), and guiding the student through use of a graphic organizer to help them remember the steps of writing. Parents can help even further by reviewing writing assignments with their child for issues such as spelling, grammar, punctuation, and thematics.