Dysgraphia: Learning disabilities in writing
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- Allow use of print or cursive — whichever is more comfortable.
- Use large graph paper for math calculation to keep columns and rows organized.
- Allow extra time for writing assignments.
- Begin writing assignments creatively with drawing, or speaking ideas into a tape recorder
- Alternate focus of writing assignments — put the emphasis on some for neatness and spelling, others for grammar or organization of ideas.
- Explicitly teach different types of writing — expository and personal essays, short stories, poems, etc.
- Do not judge timed assignments on neatness and spelling.
- Have students proofread work after a delay — it's easier to see mistakes after a break.
- Help students create a checklist for editing work — spelling, neatness, grammar, syntax, clear progression of ideas, etc.
- Encourage use of a spell checker — speaking spell checkers are available for handwritten work
- Reduce amount of copying; instead, focus on writing original answers and ideas
- Have student complete tasks in small steps instead of all at once.
- Find alternative means of assessing knowledge, such as oral reports or visual projects
- Encourage practice through low-stress opportunities for writing such as letters, a diary, making household lists or keeping track of sports teams.
Teenagers and adults
- Provide tape recorders to supplement note taking and to prepare for writing assignments.
- Create a step-by-step plan that breaks writing assignments into small tasks (see below).
- When organizing writing projects, create a list of keywords that will be useful.
- Provide clear, constructive feedback on the quality of work, explaining both the strengths and weaknesses of the project and commenting on the structure as well as the information that is included.
- Use assistive technology such as voice-activated software if the mechanical aspects of writing remain a major hurdle.
Many of these tips can be used by all age groups. It is never too early or too late to reinforce the skills needed to be a good writer.
Though teachers and employers are required by law to make "reasonable accommodations" for individuals with learning disabilities, they may not be aware of how to help. Speak to them about dysgraphia, and explain the challenges you face as a result of your learning disability.
Reprinted with permission from the National Center for Learning Disabilities. All rights reserved.