Definitions and causes of Dysgraphia (Handwriting Disorder):
Dysgraphia that is caused by a language disorder may be characterised by the person having difficulty converting the sounds of language into written form (phonemes into graphemes), or knowing which alternate spelling to use for each sound. A person with dysgraphia may write their letters in reverse, have trouble recalling how letters are formed, or when to use lower or upper case letters. A person with dysgraphia may struggle to form written sentences with correct grammar and punctuation, with common problems including ommitting words, words ordered incorrectly, incorrect verb and pronoun usage and word ending errors. People with dysgraphia may speak more easily and fluently than they write.
Non-language based dysgraphias are those caused by difficulties performing the controlled fine motor skills required to write. The generic term apraxia refers to a wide variety of motor skill deficits in which the voluntary execution of a skilled motor movement is impaired. Apraxia can involve a single controlled movement, or a sequence of movements, such as writing a single letter or entire word.
Some Signs of Dysgraphia:
- Generally illegible writing
- Inconsistencies in writing, e.g. mixtures of printing and cursive writing, upper and lower case, or irregular sizes, shapes, or slant of letters
- Unfinished words or letters, omitted words
- Inconsistent position of letters on the page with respect to lines and margins
- Inconsistent spaces between words and letters
- Cramped or unusual grip of the writing instrument, especially
- holding the writing instrument very close to the paper, or holding thumb over two fingers and writing from the wrist
- Strange wrist, body, or paper position
- Talking to self whilst writing, or carefully watching the hand that is writing
- Slow or laboured copying or writing
- Large gap between written ideas and understanding demonstrated through speech.
- Difficulty organising thoughts on paper.Occupational Therapists can identify problems with mechanical based dysgraphia or apraxia.
- Occupational Therapists can identify problems with mechanical based dysgraphia.