Poor handwriting (Dysgraphia) among children with learning disabilities is nearly always accompanied by other learning differences such as dyslexia or attention deficit disorder and this can impact the type of dysgraphia a person might have. There are three principal subtypes of poor handwriting (dysgraphia) that are recognized. Some children may have a combination of two or more of these, and individual symptoms .motor dysgraphia/agraphia resulting from damage to some part of the motor cortex in the parietal lobes.
Dyslexic: Learning disabilities children with dyslexic dysgraphia have illegible spontaneously written work. Their copied work is fairly good, but their spelling is usually poor. Their finger tapping speed (a method for identifying fine motor problems) is normal, indicating that the deficit does not likely stem from cerebella damage.
Motor: Motor dysgraphia is due to deficient fine motor skills, poor dexterity, poor muscle tone, or unspecified motor clumsiness. Letter formation may be acceptable in very short samples of writing, but this requires extreme effort and an unreasonable amount of time to accomplish, and it cannot be sustained for a significant length of time, as it can cause arthritis-like tensing of the hand. Overall, their written work is poor to illegible even if copied by sight from another document, and drawing is difficult. Oral spelling for these individuals is normal, and their finger tapping speed is below normal. This shows that there are problems within the fine motor skills of these children. Learning disabilities children with developmental coordination disorder may be dysgraphic. Writing is often slanted due to holding a pen or pencil incorrectly.
Spatial: Learning disabilities children with spatial dysgraphia has a defect in the understanding of space. They will have illegible spontaneously written work, illegible copied work, and problems with drawing abilities. They have normal spelling and normal finger tapping speed, suggesting that this subtype is not fine motor based.
Signs and Symptoms of Poor Handwriting (Dysgraphia) Among Children with Learning Disabilities
The symptoms to poor handwriting (dysgraphia) are often overlooked or attributed to children with learning disabilities being lazy, unmotivated, not caring, or having delayed visual-motor processing. In order to be diagnosed with dysgraphia, one must have a cluster, but not necessarily all, of the following symptoms:
- Cramping of fingers while writing short entries
- Odd wrist, arm, body, or paper orientations such as bending an arm into an L shape
- Excessive erasures
- Makin reversals for example ‘b’ for ‘d’, “p for ‘q’, “d” for; g;, ‘s’ for ‘z’
- Mixed upper case and lower case letters
- Inconsistent form and size of letters, or unfinished letters
- Misuse of lines and margins
- Inappropriate upper case / lower case letter mixed for example mixing capital letters with small letters bOY, BaG, dOG, CHAir and so on cAKe, Pen, bOok and so on.
- Inefficient speed of copying
- Inattentiveness over details when writing
- Frequent need of verbal cues
- Relies heavily on vision to write
- Difficulty visualizing letter formation beforehand
- Poor legibility
- Poor spatial planning on paper
- Difficulty writing and thinking at the same time (creative writing, taking notes)
- Handwriting abilities that may interfere with spelling and written composition
- Difficulty understanding homophones and what spelling to use
- Having a hard time translating ideas to writing, sometimes using the wrong words altogether
- May feel pain while writing (cramps in fingers, wrist and palms)
Causes of poor handwriting (Dysgraphia) among children with learning disabilities
Poor handwriting (Dysgraphia) is a biologically based disorder with genetic and brain bases. More specifically, it is a working memory problem. In dysgraphia, children with learning disabilities fail to develop normal connections among different brain regions needed for writing. Learning disabilities children with poor handwriting (dysgraphia) have difficulty in automatically remembering and mastering the sequence of motor movements required to write letters or numbers. Poor handwriting (Dysgraphia) is also in part due to underlying problems in orthographic coding, the orthographic loop, and graphmotor output (the movements that result in writing) by one’s hands, fingers and executive functions involved in letter writing. The orthographic loop is when written words are stored in the mind’s eye, connected through sequential finger movement for motor output through the hand with feedback from the eye.