Understanding the Learning Disability – Dysgraphia
There are different types of Learning Disabilities (LD) and they have various levels of severities. They are caused due to neurological factors.
In our attempt to create awareness about the Learning Disabilities, today we will talk about Dysgraphia
Dysgraphia is a specific learning disability and affects writing and fine motor skills. People with dysgraphia face difficulties in controlling their handwriting and this has a huge impact on their education and academic life.
– Bad, almost illegible handwriting
– Unequal spacing between words
– Not being able to maintain equal margins on paper while writing
– Spelling mistakes
– Inability to think and write at the same time
Dysgraphia is a working memory problem and the person affected is not able to use the different brain regions needed for writing.
Writing forms the base of our education system. There are a very few lessons that are done orally and most evaluations are also done in a written format. Dysgraphia poses challenge to students in every day school work and examinations.
Even if the student is able to understand the lessons at school, he or she may not be able to write due to dysgraphia.
The disorder can be observed and diagnosed by parents and teachers. Here are some indicators that parents that can be looked out for.
– The student may have poor writing despite putting in a lot of effort and time.
– Inconsistent writing, using a mix of cursive, upper and lower case, slant and shapes
– Unfinished sentences, missed words
– Spacing between words and letters varies and is not consistent
– The position of hand and paper is not like other children and seems strange
– Difficulty in visualizing letters before writing
– Writing very slowly
– Soreness in hand
– Not able to think, listen and write at the same time
“Each child can learn. Some just need to be taught a little differently.” a wise thought shared by Radha Tandon, Director PRAANGAN Centre for children with special educational needs.
Ways to cope
If the child has some of the above symptoms, he or she should be evaluated for writing disorders by experts. There are strategies that can be taught to the affected person to help them cope with the disorder. Although there is no medical cure, with guidance, training and care, students can start showing some improvement. Here are some commonly used strategies to tackle dysgraphia.
The student can be helped through use of technology in studying such as the use of word processor.
Teachers and parents should not scold the students for being slow and should exercise patience
Teachers can use oral exams for evaluating the students and parents can help them learn the lessons
If student can’t take notes, they should be allowed to record the lectures using gadgets such as smartphones or voice recorders
Instead of asking the students to copy from board, teachers can do a bit extra and give printed material.
Some children are able to write better on wider paper or one with grids also known as the graph paper
If the students find it difficult to use pencils, they can be given pencil grips and specially designed writing aids
- Students can also be given the option to submit assignments in different formats such as video or audio
There are some tests that can be used to diagnose dysgraphia like Ajuriaguerra scale, BHK for children or teenagers, DASH and HHE scale.
Dr Harish Shetty is a psychiatrist and feels that lack of awareness about LD is a major hurdle in India.
As this disability is never identified early, the child goes through humiliation by the family and the school. Many kids lose their confidence and may get depressed. Many others drop out.
Overall, many lives get destroyed. The invisible disability needs to be made visible.