Dysgraphia is a neurological disorder that hinders the ability to write. This encompasses the general mechanics of written transcription, i.e. handwriting, typing, and spelling.
According to estimates, 5-20% of young students have some type of writing deficit, but the precise prevalence of dysgraphia is a mystery. Most children have difficulty writing, as it’s a skill that requires learning and practice.
However, if a child’s handwriting is very messy or their ideas appear disorganized despite efforts, they may have the disorder.
Today, we’ll tell you all about the types of dysgraphia as well as the causes and treatments.
What are the symptoms?
Dysgraphia hinders the ability to write, but it also changes the coherence of written words. This is because, if the child has to focus all his attention on transcription, the ability to express concepts and ideas may become more laborious. Therefore, it’s a disorder that makes it difficult to master writing in general.
One study from Translational Pediatrics shows us some of the most common signs of dysgraphia. Among them we find the following difficulties:
- Forming letters correctly.
- Consistently placing spaces between letters on the page.
- Writing in a straight line.
- Keeping the size of the letters homogenized throughout the text.
- Continuous erasure of written things.
- Complications in maintaining spelling patterns: This includes incomplete words, misspellings, and placement or absence of letters.
In addition to the problems we can observe on paper, the child’s posture also speaks volumes about their writing ability. An infant with dysgraphia will unusually hold the pencil, take odd postures while writing, or orient the paper poorly.
The types of dysgraphia
As indicated by the Special Needs website, there are several types of dysgraphia. We’ll tell you about them in the following list:
- Dyslexic dysgraphia: The formation of spontaneous words is illegible, but copied sentences are usually understood.
- Motor: Caused by lack of motor skills and muscle tone. Both copied and original sentences are usually illegible. Patients can form sentences, but it takes a lot of effort and dedication.
- Spacing: As the name suggests, the child isn’t able to understand the concept of spacing, so they put sentences together and have trouble maintaining line spacing and margins. However, the sentences are understandable and the letters follow a coherent order.
- Phonological: Consists of difficulty in writing and spelling complex new words. These children aren’t able to memorize phonemes.
- Lexical: A very rare form of dysgraphia in which the individual understands words that are spelled as they sound, but struggles with irregular words. It’s more common in English and French.
What’s the cause?
Finding the cause of dysgraphia in children can be a challenge. However, if it’s acquired in adulthood, it may be due to brain damage, tumors, strokes, and other events involving the brain.
There are two main suspects for dysgraphia in children, which are neurological and motor. The first case doesn’t necessarily have to be serious, because sometimes certain slight disorders prevent the correct ordering, making it difficult for the child to communicate in writing. Experts have associated several pathologies dysgraphia, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Psychomotor or motor causes may be a little more delicate, as several congenital diseases cause progressive muscular dystrophy, for example.
Diagnosing the types of dysgraphia
The ADDitude website, which specializes in ADHD, reveals that the diagnosis of dysgraphia is made in a standardized way through the evaluation of the Specific Learning Disorder (SLD). For a child to meet the criteria, the following 4 pillars must be met:
- Exhibits at least 6 of the standardized symptoms that hinder learning for at least 6 months.
- Shows significantly reduced academic abilities compared to peers. This must make it difficult for the child to perform in school.
- The difficulties must have started in the school environment, even if they become more evident in the work environment.
- Other possible illnesses, such as blindness, should be ruled out.
Treatment for the different types of dysgraphia
Dysgraphia is a condition that will accompany the child throughout their life and has no cure. The approach, both at school and home, is to encourage the practice and development of skills. However, the condition can’t be solved with medication or surgery.
However, just because it is permanent doesn’t mean that it can’t improve. In these cases, occupational therapy is often recommended, where therapists will help the child to write better and adopt more effective postures. In addition, the school should provide special educational cycles according to the child’s needs.
Tips to improve handwriting
In closing, here are some tips that can be applied to a child with dysgraphia to make things easier for them. The WebMD website presents many options:
- Give the child a paper with established lines, so that it’s easier for them to follow a coherent structure in writing.
- Allow him to try different types of pens and pencils until they find one they’re comfortable with.
- Begin the writing process with the child by capturing ideas in the form of drawings and recordings.
- Teach the child various writing techniques and tenses. The child will be able to adapt to the one that is easiest for them.
- Reduce the task of copying sentences, as it’s better to encourage autonomy and practice.
Dysgraphia is chronic, but it’s treatable
Summarizing the particularities of dysgraphia in a few lines is a challenge, as it’s a very complex and varied clinical entity. If you have dysgraphia or your child shows signs of it, we advise you to review the pages we cited in this article, especially as far as the home approach is concerned.
Just because dysgraphia is lifelong doesn’t mean that it can’t be treated. Therefore, therapy and practice will be the best allies for a child with dysgraphia. With patience and dedication, a person with this condition can achieve a certain degree of autonomy in writing.