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DYSGRAPHIA

Dysgraphia is a learning disability affecting


writing skills. It may manifest in difficulties
with spelling, poor handwriting and trouble
putting thoughts on paper.

Writing requires a complex set of motor and
information processing skills. To say a student
has dysgraphia is not sufficient. A student
with these disorders will benefit from specific
accommodations in the learning environment,
as well as additional practice learning the skills
required to be an accomplished writer.
Warning Signs
If a person has trouble in any of the following areas,
additional help may be beneficial:
Grips pencil tightly, positions body awkwardly
Writes illegibly
Avoids writing or drawing tasks
Tires quickly while writing
Says words out loud while writing
Omits words, leaves out words in sentences
Has difficulty organizing thoughts on paper
Demonstrates large gap between thoughts and
understanding expressed orally and written ideas

Generally, strategies fall into two
categories. First, providing alternatives to
written expression. Or , second, remediating:
providing instruction and practice for
improving handwriting and writing skills.

Both types of strategy should be considered
when planning instruction and support. In
addition to specialists, dont hesitate to
involve family or friends.
To find the most beneficial type of support,
you will engage in a process, trying different
ideas and openly exchanging thoughts about
what works best in each situation.

Following are some examples of how to teach individuals with
dysgraphia.
Early Writers
Use paper with raised lines for a sensory guide to assist staying
within lines.
Try different pens and pencils to find one that is 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. Reinforce this early (its hard to unlearn habits)!

Use multi-sensory techniques for learning letters,
shapes and numbers. For example, speak through a
motor sequence (b is big stick down, circle away from
my body).
Introduce computers for word processing early. But
dont eliminate handwriting while typing can
alleviate the frustration of forming letters, handwriting
is part of a persons ability to function in the world.
Be patient and positive; encourage practice and praise
effort becoming a good writer takes time and
practice.

Young Students
Allow use of print or cursive, whichever is more
comfortable.
Use large graph paper for math calculation to keep columns
and rows organized.
Allow extra time for writing assignments.
Begin writing assignments creatively, with drawing,
outlining or speaking ideas into a tape recorder.
Alternate focus of writing assignments: put the emphasis
on some for neatness and spelling, others for grammar or
organization.
Explicitly teach different types of writing expository,
personal essays, short stories, poems, etc.
Dont judge timed assignments on neatness and spelling.

Have students proofread work after a delay; its easier to see
mistakes after a break.
Help students create a checklist for editing work: spelling, neatness,
grammar, syntax, clear progression of ideas, etc.
Encourage use of a spell checker (speaking spell checkers are
available).
Reduce amount of copying instead focus on writing original
answers and ideas.
Have student complete tasks in small steps, instead of all at once.
Find alternative means of assessing knowledge such as oral
reports or visual projects.
Encourage practice through low-stress opportunities for writing,
such as letters, a diary, household lists, tracking of sports teams.

Teenagers and Adults
Provide tape recorders to supplement note taking and to
prepare for writing assignments.
Create a step-by-step plan that breaks writing assignments
into small tasks (see below).
When organizing writing projects, create a list of key words
that will be useful.
Provide clear, constructive feedback on the quality of the
work; explain both the strengths and weaknesses of the
project. Comment on the structure as well as the
information that is included.
If the mechanical aspects of writing remain a major hurdle,
use assistive technology, such as voice-activated software.

Note: many of these tips can be used by all age
groups. Its never too early or too late to
reinforce the skills needed to be a good writer.
Although teachers and employers are required by
law to make reasonable accommodations for
individuals with learning disabilities, they may
not be aware of how to help. Speak to them
about dysgraphia. Explain the challenges you
face as a result of this difficulty.

How to Approach Writing
Assignments
Plan your paper. Pull together your ideas and
consider how you want them in your writing.
Organize your thoughts and ideas.
Create an outline or graphic organizer to be sure
youve included all your ideas.
Make a list of key thoughts and words you will
want to use in your paper.
Write a draft. Focus this first draft on getting
your words on paper only dont worry about
spelling or grammar. (Using a computer makes
later editing easy.)

Edit your work for spelling, grammar and
syntax; use a spell checker if necessary.
Revise your work for producing the final draft.
Rewrite your work into the final draft.
Be sure to read it one last time.

Writing: Teach Strategies and Self
Monitoring Directly
The stages for strategy acquisition are
Develop/assess background
knowledge relating to the writing content
Discuss the strategy to be used (see below)
Model it
Memorize it
Practice it with guidance
Perform it independently

Include these steps in every strategy session.
The one Universal Strategy is called P O W
P (pick an idea)
O (organize notes)
W (write and say more).

Here are some specific strategies for three types of
writing (make charts):
Story and Narrative Writing think W W W, What
2, How 2
W..Who is the main character?
W..Where does the story take place?
W..When does the story take place?
WhatWhat does the main character do /want to do?
WhatWhat happens next?
How.How does the story end?
How.How do the characters feel?

Persuasive Writing think TREE
T..Topic sentence: Tell what you believe!
R..Reasons (3+): Why do I believe it; will
my readers, too?
E..Explain reasons: Say more about each
reason.
E..Ending: Wrap it up right!

Informative Writing think PLAN then
WRITE
PPay attention to the writing prompt.
LList main ideas to develop the essay.
AAdd supporting ideas (details,
examples, etc).
NNumber major points in the order you
will use them.

then
WWork from your plan to develop thesis
statement.
R.Remember your goals.
I..Include transition words for each
paragraph.
T.Try to use different kinds of sentences.
E.Exciting, interesting, $1,000 words.