Dysgraphia is a transcription disability, meaning that it is a writing disorder associated with impaired handwriting, orthographic coding (orthography, the storing process of written words and processing the letters in those words), and finger sequencing (the movement of muscles required to write).
The effects of the disability are such that it is often diagnosed in classrooms only. However, students with dysgraphia are often labeled lazy, and unfocused. But in reality, these students try harder than others just to keep up. Dysgraphia is an invisible disability that often goes hand in hand with dyslexia. Like students with dyslexia, students with dysgraphia are often acutely aware of what they’re not capable of relative to their peers.
You can feel it more closely by performing an activity:
- Write about yourself or any recent experience that you’d like to share with your friends.
- Now, write the same paragraph with your non dominant hand in 2 minutes.
- Now compare both sheets of paper and analyze how does that feel. You did try hard and gave your best shot to make it look good. Do you feel that the work reflects your intelligence or have you been able to express yourself completely? How would you feel to compare that work with the work of a friend?
Occupational therapy to strengthen fine motor skills, written expression and language processing can be of great helps. If any student is struggling with writing that is not in line with what usually students face in their developmental age, it is essential that occupational therapists help them.
While specialists fulfill their key need, as a general educator, you also play an essential role in supporting the students. The following pointers will help you get a better understanding of how you can make your classroom a dysgraphia- friendly classroom.
Teach Cursive Writing:
Cursive writing has fewer starting points than disconnected print letter. This thing enables the students with improved writing speed, consistent letter sizing, and neater overall appearance of writing. Or you can watch the video below to help your students with their writing needs. In the video below, the man simplifies the process of writing for students who face problem with writing.
Speech to Text tools:
Assistive technology is of great help for students with dysgraphia. It supports the students with their classroom writing tasks to a great extent. You can find many great tools over the web; free as well as paid with premium features. Some of them are Google’s voice typing or Apple’s Speak Screen.
Watch this video below to get a better understanding of how this assistive technology can help students with dysgraphia:
Graph Paper for Math:
This is another trick that helps students with dysgraphia. Graph paper helps students stay in the lines and this helps them in the later grades when the face complex math tasks. Use of graph paper by dysgraphia students reduces unintended errors to a great extent. You can use various web tools like math Aids, Do2Learn etc. for free printable math grids.
Note taking Accommodations:
Copying notes from the board can be a challenge for the students with dysgraphia. Go digital with you content or help then by sharing resources that they can refer to for their lessons. Also, you can allow these students to just to take pictures of lecture notes to review later. Students can use a free optical character reader (OCR) like Prizmo Go (for iOS) or Google Keep (for Android) to automatically read text from the photos to review those notes.
These are just a few tips that will help you make your classroom dysgraphia –friendly but will help students with it A LOT! However, what matters the most is to make your students feel understood and supported in the classroom. It’s important to be creative about accommodations and to communicate with students about their individual needs. A positive environment with friendly peers and understanding teachers leaves a great impact on students and helps them through their whole school experience. As well as motivates them and pushes them to never give up.
What are your experiences in your classroom? How do you make small changes to make big impacts? Share with us in the comment section below.