When it comes to writing difficulties there are many resources available. However, a simple search on Google might reveal pages of information filled with complex jargon. Technical terminology can be difficult to understand and often can leave parents more confused!
The following information should help clarify some of the terminology used to describe writing difficulties and explain how these problems can be assessed.
What is dysgraphia?
Writing difficulties are often called dysgraphia when mentioned in clinical settings. Dysgraphia refers to difficulties in the skills needed to produce writing. The appropriate diagnostic term for a child found to have dysgraphia is Specific Learning Disorder with Impairment in Written Expression.
What are the signs of dysgraphia?
Messy handwriting is one of the most common signs that a child has dysgraphia. There are many skills required to produce neat handwriting and as a result there are many reasons why children might struggle to do so. Signs to look out for include:
- Difficulties writing legibly and forming letters.
- Using a combination of print and cursive writing, left and right slanting, and/or upper and lowercase within the same line.
- Poor and/or irregular spelling.
- Saying words out loud while writing beyond age appropriate level.
- Inconsistent letter size and space size between words.
- Difficulty writing within margins and lines.
- Incomplete writing of words or sentences.
- Words are written in the wrong order or written backwards.
- Extremely slow-paced writing or copying from board.
- Gripping of pencil is too tight or unusual.
How is dysgraphia assessed?
There are several components to a comprehensive assessment of dysgraphia. Firstly, an intellectual (IQ) assessment is necessary to understand cognitive strengths and weaknesses as well as rule out other difficulties (such as language disorders, intellectual impairments, or problems with attention). Secondly, a thorough evaluation of the child’s academic performance is necessary to determine whether writing difficulties are the only specific learning disorder at play and whether they may be impacting other areas of school performance. Thirdly, skills directly related to producing neat handwriting are examined. Finally, this information is interpreted with consideration of reports from both parents and teachers about the child’s learning/ behaviour at home and at school.
If any of these signs rung true for you or your child we encourage you to BOOK IN to see our resident neuropsychology assessor, psychologist Daniéll Siderowitz. Dani can provide comprehensive assessments using standardised evidence-based assessment tools to reach a diagnosis of the problems.
Or contact us on: 02 9139 0126