Many people refer to them as learning disabilities but I refer to them as special learning needs. Every week, Loose LEAF will share information about a special learning need that is uncommon. By saying uncommon, I don’t mean many people don’t have it, but it just isn’t discussed about much. I want to share this information so that our children can have all of the resources necessary to get ahead in their education. Believe it or not, there are many special learning needs that teachers don’t know how to accommodate, because they have never heard of it. You, as a parent, are your child’s biggest advocate!
This week, we will discuss Dysgraphia. Have you ever heard of this? Do you know someone that has it? Dysgraphia is not a disease, nor is any other special learning need. Dysgraphia makes it very difficult for those that have it to write, take notes, and even process their thoughts. Many people with dysgraphia will have trouble writing essays and other pieces of literature because they are having a hard time processing their thoughts and trying to write them at the same time. The National Center for Learning Disabilities said “Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects writing, which requires a complex set of motor and information processing skills. Dysgraphia makes the act of writing difficult. It can lead to problems with spelling, poor handwriting and putting thoughts on paper. People with dysgraphia can have trouble organizing letters, numbers and words on a line or page. This can result partly from:
- Visual-spatial difficulties: trouble processing what the eye sees
- Language processing difficulty: trouble processing and making sense of what the ear hears”
Just having bad handwriting doesn’t mean that you have dysgraphia. This is certainly a lifelong challenge because it is a processing disorder. The NCLD also notes that there are some accommodations that can assist students in their learning. For early writers
- “Use paper with raised lines for a sensory guide to staying within the lines.
- Try different pens and pencils to find one that’s most comfortable.
- Practice writing letters and numbers in the air with big arm movements to improve motor memory of these important shapes. Also practice letters and numbers with smaller hand or finger motions.
- Encourage proper grip, posture and paper positioning for writing. It’s important to reinforce this early as it’s difficult for students to unlearn bad habits later on.
- Use multi-sensory techniques for learning letters, shapes and numbers. For example, speaking through motor sequences, such as “b” is “big stick down, circle away from my body.”
- Introduce a word processor on a computer early; however do not eliminate handwriting for the child. While typing can make it easier to write by alleviating the frustration of forming letters, handwriting is a vital part of a person’s ability to function in the world.”
For young teens and even through adulthood, many of these same accommodations can be effective. It could also be helpful to teens and adults to take breaks in assignments, use tape recorders to take notes, reduce copying tasks, use writing organizers to help get thoughts down, and the use of assistive technology.
We all possess special learning needs. Some people’s special learning needs are simply a little more extreme, however with the right support and accommodations, all students have the best chance at being successful in school and at work!
For the entire reading of where the information was taken from, visit http://www.ncld.org/types-learning-disabilities/dysgraphia/what-is-dysgraphia