web analytics
August 28, 2015 / 13 Elul, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Righting Writing Skills: Dysgraphia Explained

Schonfeld-logo1

It was his third broken pencil of the week and it was only Tuesday. Chaim’s mother flinched as she heard the point snap.

“Uh oh,” he sighed. Breaking pencils was the least of Chaim’s problems. Every time he sat down to write, he struggled. He just couldn’t seem to get his brain and his hand to work in unison. Once he thought of what he wanted to say and began to write, he would freeze. That’s why he spent the first hour after dinner doing anything he could to avoid his homework. “Mommy, can I help you wash the dishes? Maybe it’s time for me to shower? Rebbe said I needed to learn some more mishnayos for tomorrow.”

Chaim’s mother couldn’t figure out why her smart, highly-verbal son just couldn’t put any of his thoughts on paper. He read voraciously, aced mental math tests, and was at the top of his class in all of his Judaic subjects. He just refused to write. When he did write, his writing was barely legible.

 

Dysgraphia

It’s hard for people to understand that children can have a learning disability that only affects their writing. Most people assume that if you are able to read, then writing should be a cinch. Or parents assume that trouble with writing is a physical impediment rather than a mental one. Dysgraphia, a learning disability that affects writing abilities, debunks these myths.

Dysgraphia can manifest itself as difficulties with spelling, poor handwriting and trouble putting thoughts on paper.  However, children who suffer from dysgraphia often have reading skills that are on par with other children their age. Dysgraphia is not simply a motor problem, but also involves information processing skills (transferring thoughts from the mind through the hand onto the paper).

Dysgraphia is a biological disorder with genetic and neural bases. In fact, dysgraphia deals with a working memory problem. Working memory refers to the system in your brain that processes transitory pieces of information that you are in the midst of manipulating. In dysgraphia, people fail to develop connections between the brain regions necessary for writing. Therefore, they have trouble automatically remembering and completing the sequence of physical movements needed to write letters or numbers. Dysgraphia also involves a disconnect between the finger movement input and feedback from the eye.

In other words, those with dysgraphia feel that they are writing letters for the first time each time they write them. If you think about kindergarteners struggling to write each individual letter, you can realize how difficult this can make the task of writing for children as they go through the system. It also helps explain why dysgraphia inhibits coherent expression of thoughts in writing. After all, how can you concentrate on what you have to say if you are constantly learning how to make the shape of the letter?

 

If your child has trouble in any of the areas below, additional help may be beneficial:

  • Tight, awkward pencil grip and body position
  • Illegible handwriting
  • Avoiding writing and drawing tasks
  • Tiring quickly while writing
  • Saying words out loud while writing
  • Unfinished or omitted words in sentences

 

In teenagers and adults, dysgraphia manifests as:

  • Difficulty organizing thoughts on paper
  • Trouble keeping track of thoughts already written down
  • Difficulty with syntax structure and grammar
  • Large gap between written ideas and speech

 

Depending on your child’s age, there are different strategies that are effective.  For young children who are just learning how to write, here are some suggestions:

  • Play with clay in order to strengthen hand muscles.
  • Use paper with raised lines so that children can feel the lines on the paper, allowing them to stay on track.
  • Experiment with different pens and pencils.
  • Practice writing letters with exaggerated arm movements. This will help improve the motor memory without the pressure of the paper.
  • Consider introducing a word processor (through a computer) earlier than with other children, but do not eliminate writing on paper.
  • Encourage proper grip, posture, and paper positioning. If you aren’t sure how to help your child with this – don’t push it off too long! The later you correct these concerns, the harder it is to unlearn the bad habits.

For children in elementary school, consider these modifications:

  • Alternate the focus of writing assignments. For some assignments, put the emphasis on neatness and spelling and for others put the emphasis on grammar and style.
  • Encourage the use of print or cursive, whichever is more comfortable for your child.
  • Help make a checklist for editing written work based on: spelling, neatness, grammar, syntax, clear progression of ideas, and organization.
  • Encourage writing through low-stress opportunities for writing such as letters, journals, and making shopping lists.
  • Create a step-by-step plan that breaks writing assignments into small tasks.

 

For high school students, the following modification can be helpful:

  • Provide a tape recorder or smart board notepad to facilitate note taking.
  • Create a step by step plan that breaks writing assignments into small tasks. For instance, (a) come up with an argument or thesis; (b) create an outline with major points; (c) write the introduction; (d) use quotes to support the body paragraphs; (e) pull it together in the conclusion; (f) edit paper for grammar and spelling; (g) edit paper for content and analysis.

 

Perhaps the most important thing to remember, when dealing with children who suffer from dysgraphia is that they are not “lazy” or “sloppy.” In reality, they are struggling mightily to do what most other children can do with little effort. Recognize that they are suffering from a learning disability and then take the necessary steps to mitigate their issues.  This is the most beneficial way to address the problem.

About the Author: An acclaimed educator and social skills ​specialist​, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at rifkaschonfeld@gmail.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Righting Writing Skills: Dysgraphia Explained”

  1. I don't remember now how I found the term dysgraphia, but once I learned it, it was like a light bulb went on with my son. He is exceptionally bright, loves math, loves to read, has wonderfully creative ideas…and simply cannot put his ideas on paper. When he does write, his writing looks the same now (he's 8) as it did when he was first learning to write letters and numbers.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton.
Sen. Cotton to Visit Israel for More Ammunition against Iran Deal
Latest Sections Stories
Respler-082815

There are times when a psychiatrist will over-medicate, which is why it’s important to find a psychiatrist whom you trust and feel comfortable with.

Singer-Saul-Jay-logo-NEW

On November 22, 1963, Abraham Zapruder created one of the most famous, and valuable, pieces of film and became forever linked with one of the greatest American national tragedies when he stood with his camera on an elevated concrete abutment as President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade passed through Dealey Plaza in Dallas. Exhibited here is […]

Schonfeld-logo1

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength – carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” – Corrie ten Boom I’ve been thinking a lot about worrying. Anxiety is an issue close to my heart – […]

Don’t be afraid to try something different.

Upon meeting the Zionist delegation, General Wu, a recent convert to Christianity, said, “You are my spiritual brothers.

With the assistance of Mr. Tress, Private Moskowitz tried tirelessly to become an army chaplain.

Dr. Yael Respler is taking a well-deserved vacation this week and asked Eilon Even-Esh to share some thoughts with her readers in her stead.

A dedicated scholar, educator and mother, Dr. Lowy was the guiding light of TCLA since its inception and the entire Touro community mourns her passing.

It’s ironic that when we hear about Arab extremists attacking and killing Jewish settlers, there is quiet from these same left wingers.

It is well known that serving olives with alcoholic drinks enhances their flavor, but you have to know what you’re doing.

All of us wish to act in kind, compassionate and intelligent ways. We all wish to build character.

More Articles from Rifka Schonfeld
Schonfeld-logo1

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength – carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” – Corrie ten Boom I’ve been thinking a lot about worrying. Anxiety is an issue close to my heart – […]

Schonfeld-logo1

All of us wish to act in kind, compassionate and intelligent ways. We all wish to build character.

They are habits. And though each habit means relatively little on its own, over time, the meals we order… have enormous impacts on our heath, productivity, financial security, and happiness.

What’s the difference between the first and second ten-year-old?

So, what do we do about grammar? Should we do grammar drills? Should we hope that the students pick it up from reading?

Most experts agree that with specialized coaching, a person’s social “intelligence” can be significantly raised.

Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Executive Function Disorder (EFD) have trouble keeping themselves organized and on-task.

We never cease to be students, even when we are no longer in school. Therefore, everyone can learn from these elements of thought.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/righting-writing-skills-dysgraphia-explained/2014/02/13/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: