Dysgraphia, also known as developmental coordination disorder, is a deficit in fine motor control that can impact handwriting. For these children, handwriting can be sloppy, effortful, or even painful. Many educators or parents will ask the children to “slow down” or to “try harder” when they write, not knowing that it is beyond the students’ control. Parents might even explain that their child is able to write legible some of the time but their writing is sloppy other times. This inconsistency is because the child has a hard time being able to write with ease and the process is too effortful to continue the legible penmanship. In fact, individuals with dysgraphia have weaker fine motor control than their peers. Tasks such as tying shoes, fastening buttons, or painting their nails may also be challenging. Some tips to accommodate dysgraphia are included below!
1. Extended time to complete writing tasks
2. access to a keyboard
3. Special pencils and grips. Please see https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/dysgraphia/8-tools-for-kids-with-dysgraphia for ideas
4. Request a scribe to write down the student’s thoughts
5. Have a helper bubble in scantrons
6. Provide notes ahead of lectures
7. For young students, give special lined papers to help with spacing and letter size. See the following link
8. Allow the student the choice to write in either cursive or print
9. Never penalize for sloppy penmanship
10. Occupational therapy can often help with the child’s fine motor control and handwriting
Dysgraphia should be evaluated for during a Psychoeducational Evaluation. In addition, occupational therapists are able to assess and treat the disorder.
Written by: Amy Rollo, M.A., LSSP, LPC-S
Amy Rollo is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and owner of Heights Family Counseling. Amy has been practicing for fifteen years. She has doctoral level training in the areas of child and adolescent counseling, marriage and family therapy, and adult counseling. Amy Rollo provides counseling and evaluation services in the Houston Heights and surrounding areas. Amy’s goal in counseling is to journey with her clients in order to foster positive changes and growth in their lives. Read more about Amy's counseling style by visiting www.heightsfamilycounseling.com