How to Help Children Overcome Handwriting Difficulties

Objectives:

  1. Discuss characteristics of 3 types of dysgraphia in children
  2. Identify assessment tools to evaluate dysgraphia
  3. Develop practical remedial and compensatory strategies for children to improve functional handwriting skills

Course Description:

Illegible handwriting, also known as dysgraphia, is the primary reason for referrals to therapists practicing in school-based settings. Although handwriting instruction is the responsibility of teachers, the therapist’s role is in the identification of the motor, sensory, and perceptual deficits underlying dysgraphia. In this seminar, attendees will learn signs and symptoms of dysgraphia in order to identify functional handwriting challenges in school-age children. Specific assessment tools used to determine recognition of dysgraphia will be discussed with specific case examples. Attendees will ascertain a variety of remedial activities along with functional adaptations that can be used to assist children with success in functional written communication skills for scholastic achievement.

Course Content:

Some Facts about Dysgraphia
  • Dysgraphia is A neurological disorder in which a person experiences writing difficulties.
    Dysgraphia: Connections, Causes, and Cures (Sutherland 2012)
  • “Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects how easily children acquire written language and how well they use written language to express their thoughts” Write Ways by Zobel-Lachuisa & Pierce, 2011.
  • 10%-20% of school-age children have problems with handwriting (Graham, Harris, & Larson, 2001))
  • Illegible handwriting is the most common reason for OT referral in schools (Asher, 2006)
Signs & Symptoms of Dysgraphia
  • Cramped fingers on writing tool causing hand fatigue
  • Odd wrist, body, paper position
  • Excessive erasures
  • Mixture of upper & lowercase letters
  • Inconsistent letter formation & slant
  • Irregular letter sizes & shapes
  • Misuse of line & margin
  • Poor organization on the page
  • Inefficient speed in copying
  • Decreased speed of writing
  • Inattentiveness about details
  • Frequent need for verbal cues and use of subvocalization
  • Slow implementation of verbal directions that involve sequencing & planning
  • Heavy reliance on vision to monitor what the hand is doing during writing

The Source for Dyslexia and Dysgraphia (Richards, 1999)

Underlying Causes of Dysgraphia
  • Delayed motor skills
  • Faulty visual perception of letters & words
  • Decrease visual memory
  • Problem with cross-modal transfer from visual to motor
  • Studies indicate students with dysgraphia often have sequencing problems (reversing letters/numbers, writing backwards, writing letters out of order)
  • Delayed auditory or language processing

 

Case Studies
Accommodations & Modifications for students with Dysgraphia
Therapeutic Intervention
Remedial Strategies