Monday, 25th October 2021

Specific Learning Difficulties - Dysgraphia

Dys' comes from the Greek word meaning 'difficulty with or poor'. 'Graphia' means writing. Hence, Dysgraphia means 'difficulty with handwriting'.

‘Dysgraphia means having severe problems with the written word, which is affected by extreme difficulty with fine-motor skills - in spite of having normal intelligence and ability’.  
( Dr David Cowell & Maria Chivers, 2008)

Common difficulties may include:

  • Poor motor control, often described as clumsy affecting gross and/or fine motor skills.
  • Writing that is almost impossible to read and deteriorates during long handwriting tasks.
  • Mixture of printing and cursive writing on the same line.
  • Writes in all directions, i.e. right slant then left slant.
  • Big and small spaces between words.  Judging size of letters fitting into lines.
  • Different sized letters on the same line.
  • Mixes up capital letters and lower case letters on the same line.
  • Abnormal and irregular formation of letters.
  • Very slow writing, copying from board.
  • Drawing, labelling and shading diagrams.
  • Grips the pencil can be awkward, too tight and with a ‘fist grip’ causing wrist to ache.
  • Holds pen very low down so fingers almost touches the paper.
  • Difficulties using scissors, using calculator and other small equipment.
  • Poor spelling, unusual non-phonic spelling.  Problems with motor memory may cause substitution of letters that have similar motor movements e.g. d/g/a or r/b/h.
  • Poor handwriting can impact on creative thinking and the flow of ideas.
  • Poor personal organisation.
  • Low self-esteem as a result of the frustration experienced by writing.

Strategies for Home
Practical Strategies to try at home: playing with things like:      

  • Be positive and encouraging: build on personal strengths to help increase self-esteem and self-confidence.  
  • Acknowledge extra effort.
  • Be concerned: if you are concerned about lack of progress, anxiety, lack of motivation etc. approach the classroom teacher to raise your concerns. 
  • Be practical: teach through play!
  • Practising letter formation in sand trays, in shaving foam.
  • Using chalk or coloured pens, to do letter formation on black/white board.
  • Tracing shapes and patterns.
  • Colouring in ‘mosaics’ or 'paint by number' are excellent to improve ‘fine motor’ control,
  • Colouring in old-fashioned 'doylies' (for cakes) is another way to improve fine-motor control.
  • Threading coloured beads.
  • Jigsaws.
  • Juggling.
  • Swimming.
  • Strengthen hands and finger muscles by squeezing balls, using play dough, plasticine.

Stragies to discuss at school
Practical strategies to discuss with school:

  • Establish the big picture in school i.e. how any difficulties affect learning, both academic and social.   
  • Discuss additional support needs (ASN) and establish how individual needs will be met.
  • Discuss and agree homework expectations.  Confirm the use of appropriate lined/graph paper or computer to word process to help learning and completion of homework.
  • Discuss exam arrangements including exam concessions. 

Motorvate offers
What can Motorvate offer?

  • Advice and support as appropriate.
  • Assess handwriting practice, body sitting position and letter formation.
  • Liaise as appropriate with parents/carers and school.
  • Handwriting programme.
  • Programme to improve posture, improve muscle tone, strengthen hand and finger muscles, develop sequencing skills, space organisation, directional awareness and strategies to address individual difficulties.
  • Group activities to help raise self-confidence and build self-esteem.



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Motorvate Therapies Ltd - registered in Scotland SC443744

Unit 3, Tayview Industrial estate
Perth PH28DG

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