How can this be? A child is asked to spell a word out loud and is successful in doing so, but then is unable to write the same word onto a piece of paper. Surely if one can say it, they can write it…right? This simple action, although apparently similar in content, can be impossible for one who suffers from dysgraphia. Dysgraphia is a term used to identify individuals struggling with what is known as visual motor execution deficits and is a recognized learning disability. Although individuals with dysgraphia may have other learning disabilities, dysgraphia does not indicate an intellectual impairment. In fact, there are rarely any co-existing academic or social issues. Those suffering from dysgraphia can learn and they do learn – they just learn differently.
There are different types of dysgraphia; however the end result is evident in poor written expression, or handwriting. Science has yet to identify a true cause of dysgraphia. It is usually attributed to poor fine motor skills (using your fingers and hands) and/or decreased visual perception skills. Some theorize problems in left right brain integration; in other words, deficits in the left side of the brain and right side of the brain communicating with each other, and thus creating an error in attempts to work together. Fortunately, brain learning activities which specifically address neurological processing can strengthen those connections.
Those suffering with dysgraphia can easily recount a story told them without any hesitancy or errors, but when asked to write about the same story produce an illegible page of nonsense. There are capital letters in random places and letters ranging in size from tiny to huge – sometimes in the same word. Spacing between words and between each letter is inconsistent, and very often letters will be reversed and mirrored. True dysgraphia exists despite appropriate instruction on how to form letters. The person knows what they want to write and knows what words they want to use and how each letter should look; however, somehow the brain is unable to communicate that information to the fingers. Their grade writing outcomes are poor.
There are treatment possibilities for individuals diagnosed with dysgraphia. Neurologically based treatment programs designed to strengthen the brain’s ability to process, store and correctly retrieve information are available to assist those with dysgraphia. Brain learning treatment is becoming much more recognized in specialty professions such as Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy. Individuals do not have to accept these deficits, nor do they have to always rely on compensatory strategies to complete daily writing skills. There is hope for those who have difficulty in successfully transferring their thoughts to paper.
In summary, the neurological disorder known as dysgraphia is quite perplexing. How can it be that a person can say what they want to, even spell words correctly out loud, but cannot write what they are thinking? By seeking out the assistance of professionals that specialize in learning style exercises and right brain left brain processing therapy, significant gains can be made for more productive functional skills. The appropriate program, or combination of programs can be of invaluable asset to the intervention plan. There is hope for the person diagnosed with dysgraphia!