Dysgraphia: In Answer to Your Question
When I was on a school campus recently, one of the teachers asked about dysgraphia. This is what I told her:
Dysgraphia is defined by professionals as a child’s struggle with written appearance.
More and more articles have recently been written regarding the condition of dysgraphia. Dysgraphia tends to be represented as a learning disability. “It interferes with spelling, word spacing, and the general ability to put thoughts on paper.”
In terms of students I work with that have trouble printing legibly, with over-all fine motor control, letters are formed unevenly and irregular spacing exists between words as well as poor spacing and alignment of the letters of the horizontal lines of the page. Their challenges can be helped, fortunately!
Our focus of intervention challenges all the sensory-motor systems that help students perform writing and typing tasks. We work to strengthen the visual system by focusing on eye-hand control and attempting to move the eyes to view a target without also moving at the head and neck. This activity can be made into an enjoyable game and gradually increased in demand by challenging balance at the same time as asking the student to eye track.
In addition to strengthening the visual-motor system, consider the brains understanding of the position of the fingers and hands. Play games that involve dexterity. Card games are excellent and even washing the dishes involves many different types of gripping, pinching, strength, sustained posture, and overcoming slippery surfaces, such as when washing with lots of soap.
In addition to visual-motor and fine motor activities, gross motor activities are helpful in order to improve body strength, particularly the shoulder muscles, which are essential to maintain in a stable posture to allow the moving hand and fingers to finesse the nuances of shaping the letters of the English language. Age appropriate and noncompetitive sports and games can be very helpful. Games that bring the arms overhead, such as tapping a balloon or playing volleyball are mostly helpful in strengthening the upper body, working on core strength, and encouraging visual-motor tracking while watching the balloon/volleyball.
In summary, “yes”, the condition of dysgraphia is present in many students, and, “no” the entire focus of intervention should not be on this one area of challenge. Keep it fun, keep it noncompetitive, and keep the level of interest and motivation very high.