Dysgraphia is a writing disability in which the individual's writing is incorrect or distorted. It can show itself as difficulties with poor handwriting, spelling, that is, wrong spelling and difficulties in putting their thoughts on paper. These individuals generally have a higher than average IQ.
Dysgraphia is a neurological disorder. It is either non-specific or specific. Non-specific Dysgraphia may be owing to the individual being mentally retarded, poor attendance in school or psychosocially being deprived. Specific Dysgraphia arises from motor coordination problems, and in spelling and language disabilities.
Dysgraphia can be categorized into three subtypes:
Motor Dysgraphia – This is due to poor muscle tone, deficient fine motor skills, poor dexterity and motor clumsiness. In this instance whilst spelling skills are not impaired their letter formation for a small paragraph of text is acceptable but takes a lot of effort and time to finish and can not be continued for a long period of time. In their written or copied work, the handwriting is illegible. Finger tapping speed is also abnormal.
Dyslexic Dysgraphia – If an individual suffers from Dyslexic Dysgraphia it does not necessarily mean that the individual has dyslexia. In Dyslexic Dysgraphia, spelling skills are abnormal. Their writing is illegible, copied work is fairly good and finger tapping speed is normal.
Spatial Dysgraphia – This is due to a failing in the understanding of space. Their handwriting and copied work is illegible, they have normal spelling ability and finger tapping speed is normal.
Some common signs and symptoms of Dysgraphia are:
They exhibit poor writing skills such as illegible writing but have very strong verbal skills.
They have inconsistencies such as mixing lower and upper case, irregular size, shapes or slant of letters, mixtures of cursive and print. Also between letters and words there are inconsistent spaces and with respect to margins and lines there is inconsistent positioning on the page.
Punctuation is non-existent; there are errors in spelling and common suffixes, disorder in numbering and syntax, omission of syllables.
Unusual grip when writing, either, holding the pen very close to the paper or writing from the wrist holding the thumb over two fingers.
Whilst writing, watching the hand that writes or talking to themselves.
When writing, the paper, wrist and body position is not the normal writing position.
When they write, even thought it may be neat, it is slow or labored.
Treatment for Dysgraphia.
The treatment in this case may vary. Sometimes to help control the writing movements the treatment for motor disorders is also considered. Other treatments may deal with neurological problems and also impaired memory. Doctors also suggest that individuals who suffer from Dysgraphia make use of computers so that they could altogether avoid the problem of having to write.
To strengthen muscle tone, evaluate eye hand coordination, to improve dexterity and to correct the improper way the pencil is held, occupational therapy should be considered.
How do you make a diagnosis?
Just looking at an individual's handwriting is inadequate in diagnosing that that individual suffers from Dysgraphia. A qualified person should test the individual by making the individual write self generated sentences and paragraphs as well as copying a particular text. Not only the final product is evaluated but the individual's position, posture, the way the pencil is gripped, cramping, if there are any tremors in the writing hand and several other factors. Finger tapping speed is also assessed.