Some children struggle with many aspects of handwriting. Elements of this challenge can be described as dysgraphia. Technically, dysgraphia is an impairment in written expression. More formally, dysgraphia is an aspect of a specific learning disorder that is neurobiological in origin.
What is dysgraphia?
Dysgraphia is complex and multi-faceted. Some aspects of dysgraphia are language-based, falling into the area related dyslexia skills. Other characteristics of dysgraphia are motor- and sensory-based, and include:
- Difficulty with shape-discrimination and letter spacing
- Struggles organizing words on the page from left to right
- Writes letters that go in various directions
- Writes letters and words that run together on the page
- Difficulty writing on a line and inside margins
- Struggles reading maps, drawing or reproducing a shape
- Copies text slowly
Spelling Issues/Handwriting Issues
- Struggles understanding spelling rules
- Difficulty identifying misspelled words
- Excels at oral spelling relative to written spelling
- Spells words incorrectly, errors are not consistent
- Mixes upper- and lowercase letters
- Mixes printing and cursive
- Struggles reading his own writing
- Avoids writing tasks
- Physically tires from writing
- Erases frequently
General Fine Motor Difficulties
- Uses great effort in holding a pencil correctly, tracing, cutting food, tying shoes, doing puzzles, texting, keyboarding, and other motor movements requiring the fingers and hands
- Difficulty using scissors accurately
- Struggles coloring inside the lines
- Maintains an awkward position of his wrist, arm, body, or paper when writing
How can occupational therapy help?
An occupational therapist (OT) can provide activities that can address difficulty with handwriting and dysgraphia. Occupational therapy for children is often crafted within play-based games and activities that also serve to target specific areas of need.
What can I do to help?
We encourage you to attend therapy sessions with your child to understand the skills that are being addressed and how to continue to support those developing skills at home within your daily routines. As you partner with your child’s occupational therapist (OT), together you can determine which skills will have the greatest positive impact for your child.