The dysgraphia in children includes writing problems while writing and with the spellings.
- Written Language: Students with learning disabilities exhibit problems in written language, handwriting, spelling, sentence structure, vocabulary usage, volume of information produced, and organization of written ideas. Many students also present difficulties in reading, writing, since both areas are language-based. Writing is therefore particularly difficult and time consuming. Computer keyboard skills are also difficult to acquire, as well as playing the flute and many other musical instruments. Pronunciation may also be affected, and people with dyspraxia may be over/under sensitive to noise, light and touch.
They may have poor awareness of body posture and position, and misread social cues. In addition, they may share many of the characteristics common to other children with special learning difficulties.
Some of the more common handwriting disturbances are as following:
- Prewriting Skills: Many children are unable to use handwriting skills because they have not mastered a number of prewriting skills. An understanding of such relationship as up, down, top and bottom are included among the prerequisite skills for writing. The recognition and copying of different sizes and shapes, correct pencil grasp, paper position, and posture are other prewriting skills. It is suggested that all of these problems be corrected during the prewriting stage, before the child is introduced copying and writing.
- Letter Formation: The formation of various letters causes difficulty for many LD children. The addition, omission or reversal of certain letter strokes seems particularly troublesome. The most common reversed letters are b, d, p, q and y. The letters u and n are also very frequently inverted. LD children seem to have difficulty with letters comprised entirely vertical or horizontal strokes [e.g., T, L, H, and F]. Most difficulties seem to occur in those letters in which straight lines and curved lines are combined [e.g., h, r, f, b]. The incorrect size of the various letters is very common type of manuscript problem among LD children and letters which descent below the line [p, j, y etc.] are often written in the wrong size.
- Manuscript Writing: Many LD children do encounter difficulties with manuscript writing. In addition to forming letters, some children have problems in spacing manuscript letters. Words that are copied from the blackboard are often irregularly spaced. A number of children have difficulty in remembering how to write certain letters. Letters with simple strokes [1, t, & I] are easier to remember than those with a number of different strokes [b, m & k]. Children with handwriting difficulties sometimes confuse lowercase and capital letters.
- Cursive Writing:Children who experience extreme difficulties with manuscript writing will also experience difficulty with cursive writing. The key of successful cursive writing is to establish an association between the printed and cursive word. The correlation between the two forms is often neglected in teaching. The child thinks of cursive writing as entirely new writing system. Many LD children have great difficulty remembering where to stop a sweeping or circular movement, how to swing back and how to connect the lines of movement within complicated letter formation.
- Spelling disabilities: Spelling is far more complex activity than reading. It involves recalling words from memory, using vocal and motor skills. In order to spell proficiently one has to spell words phonetically. It is important to maintain a visual memory of the word for later use and correctly combine root words with prefixes and suffixes. It is not surprising then, that the area of spelling is the most frequently cited problem for those with learning disability.
Common spelling disorders
- Phonics Ability: Spelling skill involves the ability to transpose sounds [phonemes] to letters [graphemes] accurately. Many LD children cannot translate the sounds into letters and words. These children have difficulties in auditory memory and auditory discrimination skills, e.g. they spell cat as cad or sad as sat.
- Visual Memory: Many spelling difficulties are related to various visual memory deficits. A number of children are unable to retain the memory of either individual letter or the sequential order of letters in word. The child who has trouble in re-visualizing letters, make gross errors in spelling. On the other hand, the child who has difficulty in visual sequential memory cannot spell the correct order of the letters, e.g., they spell 'girl, as 'girl' or 'mother' as 'mohter'.
- Motor Memory: Word may be recalled in a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic manner. LD children often lack the ability to remember the kinesthetic 'feel' of a word. During movement of hand in writing certain words are totally forgotten by these children.
- Written Expression: Most written expression problems are found among young children beyond the second grade. They are unable to utilize the written form of language as an effective means of communication. Some are unable to transfer ideas in written form while other make grammar and syntax errors.
- Expression of Ideas: In this problem children are unable to organize thoughts into the proper form for communication. Many children who can orally articulate their thoughts fail totally to communicate in a logical writing style.
- Syntax and Grammar: The children with written syntax problems are able to express their thoughts in writing. However, numerous syntax and grammar errors totally distort their written output. Some of the more frequent written syntax errors are word omission, distorted word order, incorrect verb and pronoun usage, incorrect word ending and lack of punctuation.
- Inadequate Vocabulary Vocabulary is most important for adequate written expression. Some LD children have poor vocabularies because of lack of various experiences, while others have poor vocabularies because of impoverished oral language background.