Simply Put by Dr. Sears

What do the Experts know about Dysgraphia and Dyslexia that (Home Schooling) Parents Need to Know?

Dyslexia and dysgraphia are both learning issues, classified together in the school setting under the broader umbrella of learning disabilities. While dyslexia primarily hinders reading development, dysgraphia has an adverse impact on writing. Dyslexia and dysgraphia share many characteristics and may exist together. However, they are distinct from one another and therefore require different educational approaches to meet the child’s needs.  When these disorders are properly addressed, the barriers to learning are dramatically reduced, with a positive, cascading impact on the child’s performance and overall self-concept.

Dysgraphia Dyslexia
What is it? Dysgraphia, also known as a disorder in written expression, is a learning disability characterized by difficulty with the physical act of writing. Children with dysgraphia find it challenging to organize and meaningfully express their thoughts and ideas in written format. Dyslexia, also known as a disorder in reading, is a learning disability characterized by difficulties reading despite a normal intelligence, and adequate instruction.  Dyslexia is likely to impact writing, spelling and expressive communication. Children may find it challenging to isolate sounds, match sounds/letters and fluently blend sounds into words.
Common Characteristics
  •  Illegible handwriting
  • Slow, labored writing
  • Mixing print and cursive letters
  • Poor spacing of letters/words
  • Odd pencil grasp
  • Poor spelling, grammar, punctuation
  • Trouble organizing information when writing, creating run-on sentences and lack of paragraph breaks
  • General difficulty with reading compared to same-aged peers
  • Trouble sounding out words
  • Difficulty memorizing sight words
  • Avoiding reading aloud
  • Poor spelling and grammar
  • Not understanding what is read silently, while demonstrating adequate oral comprehension of text
  • Confusing the sequential order of letters and word patterns
  • Difficulty with multi-step directions
  • Difficulty organizing thoughts for communicative purposes
Common Social/emotional consequences Children with dysgraphia are often directed to redo their messy written work to make it legible.   Such a request is nearly impossible for most children with dysgraphia, without intervention. Even maximum effort toward that goal does not produce adequate results, leading to a consistent negative feedback loop for the child regarding their writing skills.  Laziness is often used to describe the writing samples of children with dysgraphia, due to messy work and numerous spelling errors.  This misunderstanding of the child’s disability often results in unnecessary frustration in the child. Struggling to come up with the right word or a timely answer to a question can cause kids to develop feelings of inadequacy. Jokes, sarcasm and other language subtleties can be confusing and have an adverse social impact on children. Such children tend to avoid social interactions and often exhibit anxiety and/or low self-esteem in the school setting.
What can help ·      Occupational therapy to build fine motor skills and dexterity

·      Educational adjustments may include offering a break prior to proofreading, and providing a checklist to guide the editing process.

·      Using graphic organizers, spell checkers, and writing software to support the writing process

·      Specific instruction on identifying sounds, understanding how letters represent sounds in speech and decoding words

·      Specialized instruction, either one-on-one or in a small group

·      A reading program that focuses on using all the senses to learn (a number of programs use a multisensory approach)

Accommodations ·      Extended time on tests that involve writing

·      Access to the teacher’s lesson notes

·      Sentence starters showing how to begin a written response

·      Being able to respond in other ways besides writing

·      Breaking writing assignments into steps

·      The use of a word processor in school

·      Instruction in keyboarding skills

·      Extra time for reading and writing

·      Access to the teacher’s notes from the lesson to reduce the amount of note-taking

·      Simplified directions

·      Books on tape

·      Shortened assignments

What you can do at home ·      Work on keyboarding skills.

·      Use speech-to-text tools that allow your child’s speech to be translated to text.

·      Try a handwriting program such as Handwriting Without Tears.

·      Work on correct letter formation using techniques that don’t require writing, like finger writing in the air or in shaving cream.

·      Read aloud so your child hears stories above his reading level.

·      Encourage your child to listen to audiobooks.

·      Help your child use spell-check programs designed for people with dyslexia.

·      Use speech-to-text tools.

·      For younger kids, recite nursery rhymes and sing memory songs.

If your child is struggling with reading or writing, it can be difficult to know exactly what the problem is. Talking to your child’s teacher about what she has observed is a good starting point. Together you can develop a plan. There are lots of ways to help kids with reading and writing issues succeed in school.