Many children have difficulty with handwriting when they first begin to learn. They may have trouble holding the pencil, forming letters correctly, and even remembering what they want to say. This can be a normal part of learning how to write. So how do you know if your child might have dysgraphia?
Dysgraphia is a learning disability where the student has brain-based difficulty with writing. This can be for both handwriting and for getting their thoughts out on paper. It can lead to long term problems with spelling, legibility of handwriting, and organizing written information on a page. Just thinking about all of the math classes that require students to complete proofs or English classes with multiple essays per week that happen later on in a student’s academic life, you can imagine how this might become a problem! For these reasons as well as avoiding frustration and discouragement, it’s important to catch the signs early so that your child can get help.
According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, here are some of the potential signs of dysgraphia by age group:
- The child is uncomfortable holding a pencil
- The child has great difficulty forming letters or writing within lines and margins
- The child grows tired quickly while writing
In Elementary School
- The student has messy or illegible handwriting and mixes cursive and print
- The student says words aloud or is unable able to remember their thoughts while they are in the process of writing
- The student skips words or doesn’t finish sentences
Teenagers and Adults
- The student can clearly state complex ideas but can’t express them in writing
- The student has trouble keeping track of what he or she already wrote down
- The student mixes word order and grammar
If this sounds like your child, you may consider first contacting a neuropsychologist or other professional to have testing done. Having a diagnosis can both enable your child to get accommodations and modifications in school, and also allow for a tutor or teacher to determine the best strategies to use with your child.
Whether your child has a diagnosis or not, he or she can still benefit from working with a great writing tutor to improve handwriting, the ability to transfer thoughts to paper, and develop confidence in their writing skills.