Dysgraphia – Part 2

Remember Tim? He’s the little first grader with a visual-spatial processing deficit making it hard for him to develop writing skills. He had a form of dysgraphia – difficulty writing.

In this article I want to describe another child with a form of dysgraphia. Sophie was in 4th grade when we started working with her. She was behind in reading and “hated to write.” We tested Sophie to see what was going on, and sure enough, she had the classic symptoms of dyslexia and dysgraphia. In her case, the dysgraphia was a result of the dyslexia. Because her brain wasn’t able to notice each individual sound and keep those sounds in order for her when she heard or said a word, she wasn’t able to read or spell accurately. She had a phonological processing deficit making it hard for her to develop efficient reading and writing skills. She hated to write because she didn’t know how to spell the words she wanted to use to express herself. She was a bright child with lots of interesting things to say, and if she could TELL you what she knew you’d be impressed with her high vocabulary development and understanding of the concepts she’d learned.

However, by the time a child reaches 4th grade, a significant amount of information has to be written down and handed in rather than orally expressed. We worked with Sophie for close to 120 hours to develop her phonological processing – the ability to identify and retain the sequence of the individual sounds in a spoken word. By the time she finished her treatment, she was confidently writing sentences and short paragraphs using her excellent vocabulary. Some of the words she chose were not yet in her visual memory for spelling but they were phonetically represented. She could read what she wrote (and so could we!) and proof her spelling with a spell checker once she’d gotten her thoughts down on paper.

So – if you’re wondering if your child has dysgraphia, it’s a good idea to get his phonological processing checked out. If it’s not developed enough to support his efforts to develop good reading and writing skills, he may be unable to reveal his unique take on the world through his writing.

Read more about phonological processing here.

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