Archive for the 'Dysgraphia' Category

Handwriting Worksheets: Beware! #2

<When writing on unlined paper with his eyes closed, the second grade student's letters are 3/4 inch high.  The space on the worksheet is unlined and allows for 1/4 inch high letters.

Problem:  When a child writes letters with their eyes closed either for fun or for professional observation, the height of the letters produced can represent the “comfort level” of his finger movements.  If the height of the letters are 3/4 inch, this is more appropriate for a kindergarden student than for a second grade student.  As he must tighten down his fingers to place the letter in the worksheet’s smaller space, hand fatigue and decreased writing speed can result.

Solution: Copy the worksheet allowing for larger spaces or allow the writing on an extra page.  If ask to write on the back of the worksheet, two problems appear: 1. usually there are no lines on the back.  We all write better with lines. 2. Flipping the worksheet from front to back and then back to the front can be very distracting as well as taxing on the child’s memory as he attempts to remember the question and answer, flip the sheet and then write.

To help with improving the size of his writing, a program such as “Callirobics” ( may be helpful.  Also it would be important to look at his pencil grip which may be a cause (though not only) of the larger writing.


Handwriting Worksheets: Beware!

MP900049596Handwriting worksheets vary according to the writing program that is being used.  Let’s look at the first of several worksheet “glitches” and how to fix them:

1. A worksheet has four lines for practicing a single letter..  A “model” letter to be traced is at the beginning of the first line but is not repeated at all.  Dots are placed for each letter on the lines.

Problem:  The child will trace the model letter and hopefully make the first independent letter correctly.  The second independent letter is modeled after the first independent letter.  The third independent letter is formed according to the second independent letter not the model. As the child loses focus on the model letter especially on the fourth line, the letter will more than likely be formed incorrectly.

Solution:  Place a model letter at the beginning of EACH line as well as in the MIDDLE of each line.  Make sure the model letter is traced correctly!  Once the letter formation is in the tactile (touch) and proprioceptive (body movement) systems, it’s almost impossible to change!

Note: This pencil grip is highly inefficient!  But that’s another blog!:)

Writing and ADHD

As an occupational therapist,  I see many students who have attention issues.  I often describe their handwriting problems with the following words:

We expect a little body running at 100 miles an hour to sit down and be still in a chair: Really hard! Even if the body is looking still, the nervous system is still running on high and soon little twitches of movement occur and eyes began to roam the room.

Then we ask the hand to move at 15 miles an hour!  We now have a brain that is thinking faster than the hand can write; a body that wants to move but knows it must not;  and a hand that needs to slow down but yet keep up with the brain.

Result:  Lots of illegible writing with great thoughts OR little writing but legible!  Therefore, what should we expect or want to know? Do we want to know what is in the student’s head that he is trying to get down on paper though it may be illegible? Should we expect fewer thoughts and legible writing?  What are your thoughts?

Resources for Dysgraphia Information

Book:  Cavey, D.W. (2000) Dysgraphia: Why Johnny Cant Write: A Handbook for Teachers and Parents

Articles: Dysgraphia:

Kay, Margaret J. EdD: Dysgraphia.

Disorders of Written Expression.

Deul, Ruthmary K., MD. Developmental Dysgraphia and Motor Skills Disorders, Journal of Child Neurology, vol 10. Supp.1 January 1995.

What is Dysgraphia Spelling?

Richards, Regina G., “When Writing’s a Problem”. Resource Directory, Southern California Consortium, Orton Dyslexia Society 1996.

My article reprinted in this blog: HIBIDA Resource Directory 2011 available from The Neuhaus Education Center, Houston, Texas

Dysgraphia: Last of the Tips for Helping

Computer: A computer helps eliminate the questions of “How do I make the letters?”, “Where are the letters placed on the line,” and “Where is the sentence placed on the page.” computer use is not to replace handwriting as worksheets still demand legible handwriting but does offer recourse for longer assignments.  In severe cases of dysgraphia, software allowing a student to dictate into the computer is available.  Consider an Alpha Smart instead of a LapTop:

Shorten writing assignments

Encourage editing and proofreading.

Encourage a good pencil grip.  Use an inclined clipboard and a gripper if needed for hand fatigue or discomfort.

Dysgraphia: Copying from Near Point

Copying from near point (from a book or paper on the desk):  If writing is tedious, decrease the amount of board and desk copying when possible.  If copying is a requirement and there are no modifications try the following:

  • Ask to shorten the copying assignment by having the student only copy half of it.
  • Try folding the page to be copied in half so there is less visual distractions.  The task may look less formidable if broken in half.
  • Some students prefer to work vertically rather than left to right.  Try placing the page to be copied at the top of the writing page rather than to the side to see if there is greater ease of copying. 
  • Make the task more fun by copying on colored paper or raised lined paper ( or order from me).
  • Make sure the light source fits your child’s needs.  If sensitive to light, move away from fluorescent lighting and toward natural lighting.

However, some students do better with copying  from a legibility standpoint than creative assignments as they do not have to spell, punctuate, etc.

Dysgraphia: 10 Tips For Helping: #5 Copying From the Board

5. Decrease copying: Copying from the board: Copying requires looking up, remembering what you want to copy, looking down at the page and writing what you remember (hopefully).  Then you must look back up again and repeat the effort.  For those children who are dysgraphic and have difficulties focusing as well, copying from the board may be very tedious!!!

  • Ask the teacher to have the work on a paper to be placed on the desk for copying. 
  • If copying is for “copying sake”, why increase the writing frustration.  Just provide a copy of the work whenever possible.


Handwriting Questions

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Alphabet Soup: Fun Activities to Stir Your Child's Interest in Letters by Lyn Armstrong O.T.R