Read an overview of the most commonly used dysgraphia treatments and tools to make living with this condition easier.
Dysgraphia is among many learning disabilities that can affect children of all ages. This particular impairment affects the ability to write and spell properly. But with the proper treatment and tools, dysgraphia doesn’t have to impact the mental health and wellness of the child.
What is Dysgraphia?
Dysgraphia is a neurological learning disability affecting a person’s writing skill. It can also take a toll on fine motor skills, especially in young people. This condition can equally affect children and adults.
This learning disability can impact upon any aspect of the writing process:
- Word sizing
- Word spacing
Some estimates state that up to 20% of children have some form of writing deficit like dysgraphia. This condition, and many others, like dyscalculia and dyslexia, are common in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD or ADHD).
The disorder may not be diagnosed or recognized by the early school years. This is when the writing abilities start to develop. Common symptoms of dysgraphia appear around the time the child learns how to write.
First signs of dysgraphia include:
- Difficulties with letter formation
- Awkward, tight, and painful pencil grip
- Hard to follow lines and stay within the margins
- Difficulties with sentence structures and following grammatical rules in writing
- Difficulty understanding written topics, with no problems in spoken situations
Note that some of these symptoms are also common in dyslexic children.
Symptoms of dysgraphia can change with time. Usually, children with this learning disability have trouble with writing mechanics. They may also show other fine motor impairments. For adults and adolescents, dysgraphia manifests as a range of syntax, grammar, and comprehension difficulties.
Dysgraphia isn’t a neurological disorder. But the writing difficulties it imposes can significantly impact a child’s self-esteem and mental health.
Tools and treatment options to help students with Dysgraphia
Many children with dysgraphia have difficulties holding a pencil. This results in poor handwriting and an inability to read what they’ve written. Sometimes, additional help in changing the way a child holds their pencil can be of great benefit. That’s where pencil grips come in.
There are numerous manufacturers of these orthographic tools that can help a struggling writer. Most grips work for both lefties and righties, but there are also specialized writing tools only made for each.
Pencil grips are designed to be fun and easy to use, and children usually love having them.
One of the best ways to treat dysgraphia is to have a child work with an occupational therapist. These specialists can visit children at school or home.
In essence, occupational therapy focuses on movement and activities that children will encounter in their everyday lives.
Different approaches can be used depending on the child’s needs:
- At Home
- Typing exercises
- Dictating sentences before writing them
- Letter formation exercises
- Multi-sensory approach exercises like air writing
- Writing on lined paper
- Practicing cursive writing
- At school or during special education
- More time for doing tests
- Reducing the length of written assignments
- Providing notes instead of demanding note-taking
- Writing on graph paper
- Graphic organizers and writing tools
Occupational therapy is arguably the best way to treat dysgraphia, and it’s certainly the most professional.
Slant boards help place the child’s hand and wrist properly so they can write more easily. This is the most beneficial tool for improving handwriting in children with dysgraphia.
The child can grasp the pencil functionally, copy from the board faster, and maintain good posture.
Here’s an overview all slant board benefits for children with dysgraphia:
- Wrist extension
- Proper posture
- Visual learning and processing
- Better copying skills
- Boosted fine motor skills
The Handwriting without Tears curriculum
Handwriting without Tears is a multi-sensory approach that engages audio, visual, and kinesthetic skills. This extra-curriculum program is suitable for pre-kindergarten and children up to six years old.
The program aims to promote handwriting automaticity, build vocabulary and alphabet knowledge, and create the foundation for a difficulty-free writing experience for every child.
There are also numerous services for professionals available including professional learning workshops, webinars, and certifications.
Text to speech tools
Numerous text to speech assistive technology apps help learners perform basic tasks related to reading. Whether it’s to read an SMS, Amazon product description, email, or eBook, these apps have special features that can translate any written text into an oral recording.
One of the most popular text to speech tools suitable for dyslexic and dyshraphic children is Speechify.
Speechify – the assistive learning tool that helps students overcome writing challenges
Speechify is a TTS reader that can help students with dysgraphia be more efficient at performing daily tasks. This program allows the student to copy the text from their workbooks or other written content and then reads it aloud. Plus, it’s a robust app for practicing decoding skills.
With Speechify, students can also recognize their mistakes and self-correct by hearing what they wrote.
Here’s an overview of the key features of Speechify:
- Human-like voices
- Ability to scan and read aloud any printed document or text
- Note-taking functionality
- Saves content across devices
- Up to 900 WPM reading speed
If you’re interested in trying Speechify, you can do so for free by visiting the official website.
What is the best treatment for dysgraphia?
Once diagnosed, it’s best to treat dysgraphia with occupational therapy. This approach teaches the person affected by the written processing disorder to manipulate different materials to practice wrist and hand strength, forming letters, and more.
Do pencil grips help dysgraphia?
Pencil grips can be an efficient writing tool for children with dysgraphia. They aren’t always the best solution, and not all grips work the same for everyone. It’s important to find a product that can provide enough finger support without feeling too heavy.
Is there medicine for dysgraphia?
Dysgraphia isn’t a disease; hence there isn’t a cure for it. You can best treat this learning impairment with occupational therapy and online tools that make writing and note-taking easier.
Does dysgraphia get worse as children grow up?
Symptoms of dysgraphia tend to change over time, but they don’t necessarily get worse. While children may initially have trouble forming letters, adolescents can struggle with syntax and written comprehension.