In its most general sense, dysgraphia is the difficulty that sometimes occurs with handwriting , related to problems with certain fine motor skills. Dysgraphia can show itself in a number of ways and, in case of suspicion, it is always recommended to consult with a specialist, such as a speech therapist, to see what guidelines they can recommend.

A child with dysgraphia will not necessarily be dyslexic or dyspraxic (although sometimes these conditions may be related). For example, dysgraphia will not necessarily affect oral spelling , so a child might be able to spell perfectly and that ability is impoverished when writing words on paper. Depending on the characteristics of each case, dysgraphia could also be treated differently.

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How to recognize dysgraphia in children

Children with dysgraphia may have excellent reading and listening skills , but they have trouble with the task of handwriting. There may be cases of children who have been doing it for a long time and nobody has noticed, other cases of frustration at homework or when going to school … etc. But, apart from the fact that each case may present specific characteristics, some of the most common features of dysgraphia are:

  • Difficulty holding a pen.
  • Form letters of different sizes, with irregular spaces and that do not always remain on the line.
  • Showing illegible handwriting, that is, something that cannot really be read at all. Bear in mind that many children may not write well, but such complex writing can still be read and would not indicate a problem a priori.
  • Mix uppercase letters with lowercase letters.
  • Hold the pen or pencil with great force .
  • Show certain problems with spelling.
  • Have a general lack of motivation towards writing.

 

What can we do if a child has dysgraphia

We can see if a child has dysgraphia starting with the basic positioning of the body, which is always very useful to assess handwriting practices or letter formation. In the first place we should focus on biomechanics, find out if the child in question is ergonomically and posturally ready to start writing, how he feels when seated, if the height of the table and chair is adequate, if his feet can support properly on the floor… We can also ask the child if he or she feels any pain or discomfort while writing and, if so, point to the area, as this will tell us which part of the arm they are using to write.

Children with dysgraphia will likely use most of their arm to write, and may have aches and pains in the shoulder, arm, and / or wrist. The most common problem is that of the positioning of the wrist, despite the fact that we almost always pay attention to the position of the thumb and finger. This is why it is important to check if your wrist is relaxed while writing and if it moves smoothly across the page, or if it jumps while trying to stretch your fingers to reach further along a line. We can also carry out checks by placing the paper for the child to write, making sure that it is angled correctly, on the right or left side of the body (depending on the hand with which it is written), and that it is not positioned flat and straight. Right-handed writing naturally goes in an uphill motion, and left-handed writing moves downhill, so children will end up twisting their body to compensate for positions.

 

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Another option would be to work to strengthen the muscles of the hands and fingers with toys that are at home. For example, playing with clay or Legos will help reinforce what children need to write. You can use any toy that requires stamina and has a bit of a “push and pull” action. Encourage the little ones to think about what they are doing with their hands while playing .

And, if after the checks you think that your son or daughter may have dysgraphia, comment it and seek help at school to see joint forms of work and recommendation. Information around handwriting practices or a good selection of worksheets and patterns can also be a great supplement for struggling children to improve their writing skills.

 

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