Dysgraphia is a specific learning disorder that impacts a person’s ability to write. Often identified in childhood, Dysgraphia can persist through adolescence and adulthood. Although there are other types of specific learning disorders in written expression that can impact a child’s ability to put their ideas down on to paper, Dysgraphia exclusively impacts skills related to transcription (i.e., handwriting, typing, spelling). Difficulties related to Dysgraphia are often impacted by weak fine motor skills. Specifically, children with Dysgraphia may have trouble with spelling because they have difficulty forming letters. They may also write more slowly than their peers which impacts how they express themselves through writing. When children with Dysgraphia experience difficulty transposing their ideas onto paper, it is generally because these components get in the way of their ability to generate ideas and think of ways to convey them.

Similar to children and teenagers other specific learning disorders, children with Dysgraphia also often develop low academic self-confidence and academic anxiety, especially as they begin to recognize their learning differences. Diagnostic evaluations not only help the parents and teachers of a child with Dysgraphia better characterize that child’s academic difficulties, but they also can help the child more clearly and accurately understand their own personal strengths. Diagnosis of Dysgraphia requires a qualified professional to gather information about the child, their behavior, and environment. No single test can diagnose a child as having Dysgraphia, and many other disorders, like autism, other specific learning disorders, and ADHD, can have similar symptoms. Dysgraphia evaluations include a combination of in-office testing procedures; questionnaires completed by parents, teachers, and children; and clinical observations.

The type, duration, and frequency of supports will vary depending on each child and the severity of their Dysgraphia. Evidence-based supports can include school-based evaluations for Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) or 504 Plans. Outside tutoring and/or academic summer camps may be beneficial. Regardless of delivery in or outside of the school, explicit instruction in spelling and letter formation are essential. Fine motor accommodations like pencil grips, graph paper, and paper with raised lines can be helpful when coupled with other general accommodations, such as extra time on tests and speech-to-text software. When children simultaneously demonstrate low academic self-esteem or anxiety around writing, therapy with a trained mental health professional may help children better understand, express, and cope with their feelings.

Other posts about Dysgraphia and other specific learning disorders can be found on the WCP blog.

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