Occupational Therapy and Dysgraphia/Dyslexia
In the clinic, we are commonly asked about Dyslexia and Dysgraphia. While as occupational and physical therapists we do not give diagnoses, we can help you to recognize the symptoms of these problems and refer you to a place where your child can be evaluated. We can also help your child with remediation and accommodation for these deficits to help them become more independent and successful in their classroom and daily life environment. According to understood.org here is some helpful tips for discriminating between dyslexia and dysgraphia:
-What is dysgraphia? An issue that involves difficulty with the physical act of writing. Kids may also find it hard to organize and express their thoughts and ideas in written form.
-What are some signs I may notice?
- Illegible handwriting
- Slow, labored writing
- Mixing print and cursive letters
- Spacing letters and words oddly
- Poor spelling and grammar
- Difficulty gripping a pencil
- Incorrect punctuation
- Run-on sentences and lack of paragraph breaks
- Trouble organizing information when writing
-What is dyslexia? An issue that involves difficulty with reading. It can also affect writing, spelling and speaking. Kids may find it hard to isolate sounds, match sounds to letters or blend sounds into words
-What are some signs I may notice:
- Struggling with reading
- Trouble sounding out words
- Difficulty memorizing sight words
- Avoiding reading aloud
- Poor spelling and grammar
- Not understanding what he’s read
- Confusing the order of letters
- Trouble following a sequence of directions
- Difficulty organizing thoughts when speaking
As occupational therapists we commonly address handwriting and therefore assist many children who have a dysgraphia diagnosis. Here are 4 strategies we use in the clinic to help these kiddos with written language:
1). We use a multisensory approach for letter formation. It is important that children learn correct letter formation for efficiency, neatness, and rate of handwriting. For a child with dysgraphia, learning letter formation may be more difficult so we like to use a multisensory approach including kinesthetic experiences of building the letter, auditory experiences of a verbal sequence or song to form the letter, visual experiences of seeing the letter formed, and whole arm/body movements to practice letter formation. Make it fun!
2). Focus on one thing at a time. A child with dysgraphia may have difficulty with many aspects of handwriting including letter formation, spacing, legibility, letter sizing, line orientation, etc. Trying to work on all of these components at once can be overwhelming! A great strategy is to focus on one area of written expression at a time, while ignoring the rest so the child can develop each component adequately.
3). Teach keyboarding skills. If a child is falling behind in the classroom because they are not able to keep up with written work, teaching keyboarding skills may be beneficial and allow the child more success because they are not having to focus on the motor aspects of handwriting.
4). Practice writing with a metronome. This is a technique we use to improve speed and fluency of handwriting. A child with dysgraphia will probably display slow, labored writing, so use of a metronome can help with processing speed, attention, and efficiency.
If your child has a dysgraphia diagnosis and needs help with handwriting, give us a call! If your child is displaying some of these difficulties and you just aren’t sure how to help, we would love to give you some recommendations on how to best help your child. Call us at 972-404-1718 with questions.