What is Dysgraphia?
Dysgraphia doesn't get as much attention as dyslexia and ADHD, and it also is not well-studied, so the prevalence is not as well known. But estimates say 5–20% of the population have some type of writing deficit.
Dysgraphia affects writing, and it can show up in different ways throughout a student's lifetime.
In earlier grades, it may manifest as lower fine motor skills that make gripping and using a writing utensil difficult. Therefore, it is often noticed when a student has slow and illegible handwriting. A student with dysgraphia may write at a slant, have irregularly sized letters, or write so large they run out of space on their paper. They often have trouble staying within the lines.
As a student ages, and as writing tasks increase in difficulty, their disability can affect their ability to put their thoughts into written words. Older students with dysgraphia may struggle with grammar, spelling, and difficulty organizing their thoughts when they have to write them. They may show increased avoidance of writing tasks as well. This can affect their work both when they have to produce writing, such as a creative story or essay, and also when they are asked to take notes in class or when reading.
Helping a student with dysgraphia involves a dual approach:
1. providing them with strategies that will help their handwriting improve or that will help them organize their thoughts so they can write essays
2. advocating for appropriate accommodations
Students with dysgraphia benefit from extra time on writing assignments, being able to provide evidence of their knowledge orally, being provided lecture notes and the ability to type notes in class, and also the use of voice-to-text technology.
My approach with students with dysgraphia is to help them become comfortable with the various ways one can organize one's thoughts before writing (word webs, outlines, pictures, post-it notes) and then helping them become comfortable with dictating. We will also review grammar and discuss how to advocate for themselves when they need extra time or lecture notes from their teacher.