Dysgraphia – Part 3

Dysgraphia – “difficulty writing”. Remember Tim and Sophie? Tim was the first grader with the visual-spatial processing deficit making it hard for him to write legibly, and Sophie was the 4th grader with dyslexia who couldn’t spell very well so “hated” to write.

I’d like to tell you about one more child we worked with in the clinic who exhibited symptoms of dysgraphia. Jason was a sophomore in high school when we started working with him. He didn’t have dyslexia – he could read anything you put in front of him. He didn’t mind writing, either, and would willingly write lengthy answers to written responses. He wasn’t doing well in school, however, so his parents brought him in for testing. The evaluation revealed a weakness in visual/verbal integration. This means when Jason read something or listened to a lecture in the classroom, his brain did not automatically and efficiently turn all those words into images that represented the concepts inherent in the language. The words more or less “went in one ear and out the other”. He got parts of what he heard and read, but very seldom got the “big picture” put together. Jason didn’t do well on tests and he got low marks on his written assignments. Most of what he wrote was incomplete or inaccurate. His answers on tests often didn’t match the question. When he wrote a paragraph or an essay, he didn’t “make sense.” This type of dysgraphia stems from a deficit in visual/verbal processing, and results in writing that is disorganized, inaccurate, incomplete, and probably doesn’t make sense.

We worked with Jason for about 130 hours on imagery training – stimulating his brain to create images that represented the gestalt – or “big picture” – for the language he heard or read. When he left us he was developing some independence with using his images to organize his thoughts prior to writing, and coming up with paragraphs that made sense, flowed in an organized fashion, and left the reader with good images of the subject matter involved. He had a lot of practicing to do to “catch up” but he was on his way.

So – if your child is having a hard time with writing assignments because her writing doesn’t make sense or isn’t complete and accurately stated, it’s a good idea to get her visual/verbal integration checked out. If that processing function is not as developed as it needs to be she’s not catching all of the information coming at her orally or in print, and THAT means she doesn’t have good images to write from – she’s “drawing a blank.”

Read more about visual/verbal integration here.

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