Name: Aditi D. Shah (M ED- LD) Specialization paper B-1: Unit 3.

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Specific LD in writing
Learning disabilities is a general term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical abilities. These disorders are intrinsic to the individual, presumed to be due to central nervous system dysfunction, and may occur across the life span. Problems in self-regulatory behaviors, social perception, and social interaction may exist with learning disabilities but do not by themselves constitute a learning disability. Although learning disabilities may occur concomitantly with other handicapping conditions (for example, sensory impairment, mental retardation, serious emotional disturbance) or with extrinsic influences (such as cultural differences, insufficient or inappropriate instruction), they are not the result of those conditions or influences. (National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities. (1988). Specific learning disability is a generic term which refers to a group of learning disorders with respective cognitive specific deficits. A specific learning disability can affect how individuals learn in a variety of ways including how they take in, remember, understand or express information. A specific learning disability may be defined as problems people encounter in learning that affect achievement and daily life skills. Specific Learning Disability in Writing Writing is the most sophisticated and complex achievement of the language system. In the sequence of language development writing is typically the last to be learnt. Dysgraphia- It is coined from Greek words “dys” means “difficult” and “graphia” means to “write.”

Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects written expression. Extremely poor handwriting is sometimes called as dysgraphia. Students may be unable to transfer the input of visual information into the output of fine motor movement. They also have difficulty in the act of composing. Thus Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects writing abilities. It can manifest itself as difficulties with poor handwriting, spellings and trouble putting thoughts on paper (composing). Characteristics of Dysgraphia:
1. Poor handwriting/writing illegibly:

does not follow lines on paper; writes too small or too large; writes too light or too hard; pencil grip incorrect; does not visually track writing;
2. Confusion with directionality:

Writes letters or numbers backwards or upside down; writes certain letters, numbers or words in mirror image.
3. Poor spelling skills:

spells words differently in the same document (Divorce, for example, may appear as devoice, devocie, devoeace); due to confusion with directionality, may reverse letters while writing, therefore spelling mistakes
4. Difficulty with copying or completing work on a printed

page: difficulty copying from a board; difficulty copying from a book or other printed material; Mixes capital and lower case letters inappropriately; difficulty filling out forms; difficulty completing fill-in-blank worksheets:
5. Difficulty taking notes from oral presentation:

writing is too slow to get lecture points on paper; reverses or ignores numbers, parts of sentences, and/or whole words when taking notes; takes notes but unable to distinguish important information from extraneous information; i.e. the child may go to write everything dictated rather than writing only important points from that.
6. May have problems with grammar, syntax and

organization: demonstrates inconsistent memory for sentence mechanics (e.g., lack of punctuation and capitalization); persistent problems with sentence structure (sentences may be incomplete or syntax may be incorrect or disassociated); does not have all parts of a well organized paragraph (topic and supporting sentences, transitional sentence)
7. Demonstrates writing skills inconsistent with verbal

abilities: writes short and/or simple essays even though he can verbalize more complex thought; can verbalize answers to tests but written answers are wrong, left blank, or incomplete; oral vocabulary more complex than written vocabulary
8. Kinesthetic/Fine Motor:

Affects the ability to use the fingers efficiently, including poor pencil grip, difficulty in keyboarding, and poor posture when writing. The child may not have chosen a dominant hand yet, and neither hand is strong enough to write legibly. The weak fine muscles tire easily, which causes a great deal of exhaustion, frustration, and task avoidance.
9. Organizational Difficulties:

May have too many scattered ideas, or one big idea with no knowledge of how to sequentially break it down into workable parts. The child may frequently get stuck with the beginning, middle or conclusion of his story and then promptly give up before seeking help.

Symptoms of dysgraphia The earliest symptoms of dysgraphia are noticeable long before the child starts learning how to read and write. At this stage, dysgraphia is characterized by delayed motor development and problems with simple tasks such as pulling up zippers or buttons. Children may also refuse to play coloring games, which is normally enjoyable for their peers. Inability To User Silverware Properly o Because children generally do not gain control over their writing before the age of 5, symptoms of dysgraphia can be seen at a much earlier age by their ability to hold silverware. If a child misses her mouth with eating utensils or becomes easily frustrated using a spoon or fork, with no noticeable improvement over several months, dysgraphia could be the problem. Cannot Correctly Tie Shoe Laces o Once a child learns how to tie his shoes, it doesn't take long for them to easily perfect this function. A child with dysgraphia, however, might show a reluctance to tying her shoes because of an inability to perform the function with ease. Dislikes Writing o Most young people show no reluctance to picking up a pencil to write, draw or color. A child whose brain and hands are not communicating properly will be unable to use writing instruments the same way average kids can. Unusual Grip on Writing Instruments o By the time a child is in second or third grade, they should be completely comfortable holding a pen or pencil. A young person with dysgraphia will never hold a writing instrument with ease. Unless their dysgraphia is addressed and treated, their confidence can be severely damaged. This often can result in a lifetime of poor grades and dislike of school, learning and writing. 2. Dysgraphia becomes more obvious during the school years when students affected by this learning disability

express problems with writing. These problems are usually characterized by inappropriately sized and spaced letters, writing wrong or misspelled words, or using both printed and cursive letters while writing. 3. Another prominent symptom of dysgraphia is the irregularity in the size of the letters. This symptom is often accompanied with confusing the letters that look similar. For example, student with dysgraphia may often write “b” instead of “d”. Spelling mistakes and incomplete sentences are also very usual. 4. Persons affected with dysgraphia will usually avoid writing, as writing tasks cause them extreme frustration. They will usually hold a pencil in a completely unusual way and some of them may even report feeling pain while writing. 5. Has Strong Verbal Ability Combined with Weak Writing Skills. One of the most telling symptoms of dysgraphia is a young person who has strong verbal skills but cannot write properly. Not only will the handwriting be sloppy, but the way the young person holds a writing instrument will be awkward. Words will alternate between cursive and block printing. Letters will not have a consistent shape or size. Written language can be divided into: 1. Handwriting 2. Spelling 3. Composition Learning disabled students often have difficulties in one or more of these areas.
1. Handwriting: the mechanical component of written

expression is called handwriting. It is the particular way in which some forms letters with a pen or pencil. If a reader cannot understand the handwriting of an individual regardless of how well the passage is composed its meaning is lost. Causes of handwriting errors:
i.

Poor eye hand co ordination: failure to integrate the visual image of the letter with the correct motor response.

ii. iii.

iv.

Poor finer motor co ordination: poor efficiency and control of the intrinsic muscles of the hand. Disorders of visual perception: poor spatial orientation. Difficulty in understanding concepts such as up, down, top, bottom which is important for correct letter formation. Poor sense of directionality: gets confused with the strokes in forming letters.

Symptoms/signs of handwriting error:
• • • • • • • • • • • • •

Difficulty with letter formation or general illegibility Significant variations in size of letters Problems with keeping letters/words on line Inconsistent spacing between letters and words Continual crowding of words at the end of a line Reversals of letters and numbers Extreme slowness of writing speed or writing much too quickly Complaints of hand pain/cramping Use of an awkward or strange-looking pencil grasp Not holding paper in a stable position while writing Unusual/awkward body postures when trying to write Indiscriminate use of upper case letters Disregard for punctuations

Spelling: It is defined as the proper arrangement of letters into words that are necessary for the purpose of written communication. Spelling involves the ability to learn the correspondence between phonemes (sounds) and graphemes (written letters). Causes of spelling errors: i. ii. iii. iv. v. Poor phoneme and grapheme association. Difficulty in auditory discrimination Poor auditory memory Poor sequencing ability Poor visual memory

Signs/symptoms of spelling errors:

• • • • • •

Spell a word too phonetically Addition Substitution Reversals Omission Inversion

Composition: It is the visual representation of thoughts, feelings, and ideas using symbols of the writer’s language system for the purpose of communication. Written composition requires many related abilities, including facility in spoken language, the ability to read, skills in spellings, legible handwriting or skills with computer key boarding, knowledge of the use of written usage and cognitive strategies to organize and plan the writing. Problems of written formulation are not manifested until the child has acquired the rudimentary level of reading and spelling. In the 1st and 2nd grade he is only expected to write only words or simple sentences. As soon as he can read more fluently and has been taught to spell he is expected to stories, letters and answers to examination. It is at this time that those with written formulation difficulties begin to fail in school. Those with written language disorder may not be identified until they are in the third grade or even until they are in high school. Since written language is the last verbal system learnt, the reasons for later identification are apparent. Children have superior auditory language, good reading comprehension and the ability to copy the printed word, but they cannot express their ideas in writing. According to Vygotsky pure thoughts cannot be expressed because of what is lost in the translation from thought to symbol. Disorders of formulation and syntax vary both in nature and severity. In some instances the greatest problem is ideation

and productivity while in others it is primarily syntactical. In majority however both are present. Children with disturbance in ideation and productivity are limited in output and use more concrete language. They may spend several minutes before initiating a simple sentence and finally give up with the comment “I just can’t put ideas on paper” they can tell stories or relate incidents but they cannot translate thoughts into written symbols. A disturbance of written syntax can occur in conjunction with a disorder in ideation or isolation. They have fluent use of spoken word. They make errors in the written form that are not made in the spoken. The most frequent errors are word omissions, distorted word order, incorrect verb and pronoun usage, incorrect word endings and lack of punctuation. Disorders of written formulation are very frustrating. The student feels his inadequacy because the discrepancy between the knowledge he has acquired and the knowledge he can convey continues to grow. Ideation and productivity: Often we hear a child lament, “But I can’t think of anything to write.” Creativity does not emerge in a vacuum. Broad and varied experiences are necessary, particularly for children who are unable to organize their thinking for written language. A developmental progression from concrete to abstract language has been outlines by Myklebust. There are 4 levels of abstraction sequentially: Concrete-Descriptive, Concrete-Imaginative, AbstractDescriptive and Abstract- Imaginative. He stated that when ideation is bound to be observable, it is considered concrete, the more it is detached from the stimulus, the more it is viewed as being abstract. Concrete expressions include descriptive words, phrases and sentences directly related to the

experience. Abstract language consists of figures of speech, metaphors, allegories or stories with a plot or moral. Concrete-Descriptive The child describes of all the concrete experiences he has had. Concrete-Imaginative: This is difficult for some children because of their stimulus bound tendencies. They react to only what they see and often refuse to generalize. Abstract-Descriptive: These children have difficulties with time and sequence. They are deficient in these aspects of behaviour. The children are frustrated when asked to write the entire story. Abstract-Imaginative: The stories should consist a plot, imaginative setting, occasional figures of speech and some connotation of moral values. There should be continuity from beginning to the end of the story. These children are unable to do so. Punctuation is the system of inserting various standardized marks or signs in written matter inorder to clarify the meaning and separate structural units. Often these children have difficulty in punctuations. Grammar: Grammar is the most difficult subject for students with learning disabilities. The reasons for difficulty are numerous but of primary significance are the problems of memory and abstraction. When a child learns about nouns, he not only must comprehend and remember the definition but he must understand which words in our language do, in fact represent a person, place or thing. This is not easy for many children who have symbolic disorders. Causes The causes of disorder of written expression are unknown. Different manifestations of the disorder may have different causes. For example, people who cannot form letters correctly on the page (dysgraphia) may have delays in hand-eye

coordination and difficulties concentrating. People who are unable to write words from memory or dictation appear to have deficits in their visual memory. They cannot remember what the words look like. People who produce legible script but cannot organize their thoughts on paper may be suffering from cognitive processing problems. Because disorder of written expression is a little-studied disorder, specific causes have not yet been determined. Symptoms Symptoms that suggest disorder of written expression include:
• • • • • • • • •

poor or illegible handwriting poorly formed letters or numbers excessive spelling errors excessive punctuation errors excessive grammar errors sentences and paragraphs that are inadequately formed paragraphs and stories that are missing elements and that do not make sense or lack logical transitions Deficient writing skills that significantly impact academic achievement or daily life. Lacks organizational skills

References: • • • • • Janet Learner Doris J. Johnson and Helmer R. Myklebust Hallahan and Kauffman Wikipedia B ED notes

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