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Dealing with Dysgraphia

The ability to write is a vital skill we are taught from an early age to communicate with others; a basic necessity that cannot be avoided. In our technology driven age, many people seem to have lost the ability to write neatly; with computers, netbooks and tablets, replacing the need to physically putting pen to paper (or the use of a dictionary, thanks to Spellcheck!).

However, technology can’t hide everything and there is a very serious reality that the ability of writing does not come easily to everyone. According to the website Dyslexiaa2z.com, dysgraphia affects approximately 10 percent of the population. Dysgraphia is not only about having illegible handwriting; it also affects the sufferer’s spelling and written composition.

Susan du Plessis, Director of Educational Programs at Edublox Reading and Learning Clinic indicates, “As with all learning problems, a writing disability can be devastating to a child’s education and self-esteem and can have a major limitations for that child’s career path. A child that struggles with a writing disability will find it increasingly difficult to express their knowledge on many subjects and thus the writing process itself stands in the way of being able to learn.

“Learning is a stratified process, which implies that certain skills have to be mastered first before it becomes possible to master subsequent skills. One has to learn to count before being able to do mathematics. In the same way, there are skills that a child must master before being proficient in handwriting. Underlying shortcomings need to be addressed first, before the child’s handwriting can improve,” explains du Plessis.

Just because your child doesn’t have a neat handwriting, does not necessarily mean that they have dysgraphia; there are nevertheless some warning signs to look out for which could help you identify signs of dysgraphia. A few of these signs include: awkward pencil grip; avoiding writing or drawing tasks; trouble forming letter shapes; inconsistent spacing between letters of words; poor understanding of uppercase and lower case letters; tiring quickly while writing; illegible handwriting; mixture of cursive and print writing and saying words out loud while writing.

“Dysgraphia can be addressed and treated successfully by automating visual perception, improving visual memory, by addressing motor skills and teaching sensory motor integration,” concludes du Plessis.