Handwriting is a very complicated task, for many students. It often leads to resistance for many different reasons, at home and at school, especially in elementary school. For some, the actual act of holding and writing using a pen or pencil is very challenging, laborious, and uncomfortable. They will say that their ‘hand hurts,’ as they hold their pencil with a tight grip or put too much pressure on their pencil when forming letters on paper. While they put in as much or more effort than their peers, their writing is often messy or illegible as letters and numbers are poorly formed. Their writing is characterized by unusually large or small letters, and misspelled words. Sentences are difficult to decipher due to missing words, lack of appropriate spacing between words, and poor use of punctuation and capitalization. Some may have a difficult time staying on the line when writing sentences.
Dysgraphia is a neurological disorder, and not the result of a child being ‘lazy.’ Their fine motor skills are often weaker than expected for their age. Many dysgraphic children we see will have a history of frustration and oppositional behaviors when it comes to writing. They are overwhelmed with the writing demands and with the amount of erasing they have to do on each assignment, further impacting on neatness and legibility. On the other hand, they are often very articulate children with great expressive language skills. They are able to explain concepts clearly and generate detailed and interesting stories orally, but cannot convey this same level of proficiency when this information is in written format.
The first step in determining whether a child is dysgraphic is to examine the different aspects involved in writing. For some children, the fine motor demands of handwriting and drawing are not commensurate with what might be expected for their age. Perceptual-motor and visual-spatial skills are also evaluated, to determine whether difficulties processing visual information may also be contributing to the difficulties observed. For others, concentration issues lead to careless errors, spelling mistakes, or inattention in reading writing prompts. Careful assessment of the many different aspects involved in writing will be useful in determining what the underlying issues are, and how to best help your child reach their full potential. If you have questions about dysgraphia, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Beaulieu.
Oakland Neuropsychology Center
Office: (248) 644-9466
4190 Telegraph Rd, Suite 2700
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302