What is dysgraphia?
Dysgraphia is a learning disorder that makes it difficult or impossible to write coherent texts. Most of the children affected by it do not have a related intellectual or neurological disorder. Some children may be affected by other learning difficulties, such as language or perceptual-motor disorders.
People who have this condition tend to have handwriting issues, quite often making their handwriting illegible, many also have difficulties holding a pen or pencil. This is often due to:
- Visuospatial difficulties: problems processing what is seen.
- Language processing difficulties: issues processing and making sense of what is heard.
Dysgraphia is a learning condition that develops in childhood. It is important to treat it as soon as possible so that symptoms do not persist during the child’s growth. If dysgraphia is suspected, it is best to see a specialist who will be able to recommend treatment.
What are the symptoms?
Dysgraphia is not a commonly known condition although its symptoms are quite common. The main symptom is having issues writing. So, if even after a lot of practice the child is still having issues writing, specialist help should be sought to see if dysphagia is causing this issue. Symptoms tend to start around six years of age and are classed under two categories:
- Motor dysgraphia, is where the child is in an unsuitable position when writing, does not hold the pen or pencil correctly, and writes too fast or too slow.
- Spatial dysgraphia, is where there is a deviation in spelling perception which leads the child to write letters which are not easily recognised (deformed, out of proportion in size, too joined, and many others). People with dysphagia tend to make a lot of grammatical, punctuation, and organisational errors in sentence content and structure.
Medical tests for dysgraphia involve an evaluation of all the behavioural and cognitive processes involved in reading and writing. Diagnostic tests are carried out to assess individuals writing skills regarding their developmental age. The specialist will review the test results before making a diagnosis.
What causes it?
The exact cause for dysgraphia is still unknown. There are many reasons that this condition may develop, including:
- Neurological issues: it is not always related to a serious neurological issue but sometimes the underlying cause is due to a neurological deficit that makes it more difficult to process information and therefore more difficult to put this into writing.
- Psychomotor issues: there are children who do not develop these skills at the same time, and when there is an alteration in hand and arm movement coordination, an issue could arise in writing.
How can it be prevented?
It is crucial for parents and teachers to work together to detect this condition. Parents should provide emotional and social support so that the child feels comfortable and understood by their surroundings. It is important not to be compared to other children. Introduce reading and writing activities to their daily routine so that it is not an activity related to school.
What is the treatment?
Many patients who have this condition also have other conditions such as ADHD, stress, or dyslexia. The treatment used for these, or other issues, tend to help improve dysgraphia. Cognitive exercises can help reading and writing skills, and hand strength and motor coordination exercises can help improve difficulties being had. Occupational therapists help children learn the correct arm and body positioning needed to write, as well as aid them in written exercises.
What specialist should I see?
The specialist who studies, diagnoses, and treats this condition and other related communication learning difficulties is a speech therapist.
These specialists aim to restore disrupted abilities and provide the patient with enough skills to be able to recover any communication skills that had been disrupted.