Does your child have a slow writing speed? Is your child having difficulty writing legibly and making frequent spelling/grammar mistakes? Did your child hold the pen/pencil tightly and pay attention to his/her hand while writing? These are some strong signs of dysgraphia which is a neurological disorder that affects fine motor control and a person’s ability to create letters while writing. Research shows that 10-30% of children were dealing with dysgraphia. Keep reading to know more details including types, causes, symptoms, tips and foods to manage dysgraphia in kids.
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What is dysgraphia?
A prime goal of a child’s preschool years is learning how to write words and phrases clearly and correctly. While starting, all young children struggle with writing and refining their handwriting. However, if a child’s handwriting is continuously deformed or imprecise, this could be due to dysgraphia, a learning disability. This is a neurological issue which impairs the fine motor skills required for writing. It can appear as use of wrong spellings, illegible handwriting, and difficulty putting ideas on paper. It makes handwriting activities and assignments difficult for a child.
Also check, Learning disabilities in Kids
Types of dysgraphia
There are various forms of dysgraphia. Here are more details:
The words that have not been copied from some other resource are unclear, especially as the writing progresses. Children with dyslexia dysgraphia make spelling errors. However, copied words or drawings may be clear and the fine motor skills are good. Despite its name, dyslexia dysgraphia is not identical to dyslexia.
This type of dysgraphia occurs when a person lacks fine motor abilities which can be accompanied by poor handling/grip. They do not misspell but have difficulties writing or drawing legibly.
Difficulties with spatial orientation cause spatial dysgraphia. This could develop as trouble staying within the lines on a piece of paper or using the proper amount of spacing between words.
Also check, Techniques to improve fine motor skills in kids
Causes of dysgraphia
Scientists are unclear about how dysgraphia occurs in children. It is sometimes associated with brain damage, such as a stroke, in adults. This learning disorder frequently coexists with other learning difficulties in children, such dyslexia or disorders like ADHD or ASD.
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Symptoms of dysgraphia
Dysgraphia can create a variety of symptoms in children depending on their age. Symptoms can also differ by the form of dysgraphia a person has. Some children have simply poor handwriting or only poor spelling, while others have both. Here are some common symptoms of dysgraphia:
- Unclear or illegible handwriting
- Making spelling/ grammar mistakes
- Holding the pen/pencil tightly
- Incorrect letter spacing, sizing, sentence structure
- Mixing capital and small letters
- Leaving out words from sentences
- Tiredness from after writing short sentences
- Avoid writing and drawing
- Difficulties putting ideas on paper
- Slower writing pace
- Pay attention to hands while writing
- Unusual hand/body position when writing
- Not able to write in a line
Also check, Foods that help with reading and writing
Dyslexia vs Dysgraphia
Both dyslexia and dysgraphia are learning disabilities. Reading is the most affected by dyslexia while writing is affected by dysgraphia. While they are distinct, the two are easily confused. They have similar symptoms and frequently occur concurrently which includes spelling errors, poor handwriting, difficulty putting thoughts on paper and confusing the order of words in sentences.
Also check, Dyslexia in children
Tips and treatments to manage dysgraphia in kids
Dysgraphia has no cure, however individuals can learn to cope with their symptoms to make school and life easier.
1.Occupational therapy (OT)
This type of treatment helps children learn life skills such as eating and dressing themselves, bathing, and understanding how to interact with others. The skills they learn are helpful to them living as independently as possible. Additionally, individuals can acquire certain skills and approaches to make writing simpler through occupational therapy. They can practise improving their fine motor abilities and relearning how to use a pen or pencil for better writing.
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2. Management tips
Here are some management tips according to different age groups,
Early learners/ Preschoolers:
Becoming a good writer can take time. Be patient and supportive, encourage practice, and reward their small attempts.
- Use elevated line paper as a sensory aid to help you stay within the lines.
- Let your kid try out various pens and pencils to pick the one that is most comfortable for your kid
- Hold the hand of your kid and make them write in air which helps in practising the writing as well as increasing the motor memory.
- Teach your kid how to hold a pen/pencil, appropriate writing grip, posture, and paper alignment.
- Help your kid to learn letters, shapes, and numbers through multisensory strategies. Example: “b” means “large stick and circle in the bottom”
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- Allow your kid to use either print or cursive style, whatever is more convenient.
- Give your kid plenty of time for writing assignments.
- Allow kids to edit their own work after a break; errors are simpler to spot after a break.
- Assist your kids in creating a checklist for editing their work that includes spelling, neatness, grammar, clear flow of ideas, and so on.
- Limit the amount of copying and instead concentrate on writing original thoughts and stories.
- Allow your kids to finish work in incremental steps rather than all at once.
- Increase writing practice by providing low-stress writing options like letters, a diary, grocery list etc.
Also check, Tips to improve concentration
- Record your thoughts in tape recorder before writing
- Make a step-by-step plan for breaking down writing assignments into parts.
- Make a list of keywords that will be beneficial for arranging writing tasks.
Also check, Tips to improve memory at any age
Foods that help to manage dysgraphia
Adding foods that support brain development can help to improve fine motor skills and learning abilities in kids. The types of foods that effectively impact fine motor skills as well as learning includes:
All the nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashew, peanuts and hazelnuts are rich in vitamin E and vitamin B6. They help to improve the fine motor skills and writing in kids. They are also antioxidants which protect against cell damage. Walnuts are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and are a valuable substance for brain function, memory and thinking abilities. This fatty acid also encourages cognitive functions.
Also check, Best nuts and seeds for protein.
Seeds like flax, chia, melon, sesame and pumpkins also contain powerful antioxidants like vitamin E that protect the brain from free radical damage. Sunflower seeds impact overall mood and mental processing powers and therefore it is considered a brain boosting snack. Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, copper, and also higher in zinc than other seeds. They also help in increasing concentration and memory. Healthy brain can effectively help in improving fine motor skills as well as learning abilities of kids.
Also check, Health benefits of pumpkin seeds.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen. It can help in reducing anxiety and stress. Moreover, it increases acetylcholine levels which support better memory, mental focus and intelligence. Ashwagandha also improves communication between nerve cells and stimulates the body’s capacity to heal any nervous system damage. For general nourishment and renewal, ashwagandha is typically eaten with ghee and honey (in equal parts), which serve as anupans (a medium for delivering herbs deeper into the tissues).
Also check, Health benefits of Ashwagandha.
Brahmi is a superfood for the brain. It helps in sharpening the brain by protecting cells and also increases the chemicals associated with learning, memory and fine motor skills. It has shown to improve spatial learning and retaining power in kids. Kids in the older times, were often given Brahmi powder with ghee/honey. This would increase their focus and attention while keeping them calm and distressed. The most notable advantage of brahmi is that it enhances cognitive abilities and also stimulates the mind to increase focus and memory. Bacopa, taken twice daily at a dose of 300 mg, was found to improve test results related to cognitive function after six weeks of regular treatment.
Also check, Benefits of brahmi for brain development
Shankhapushpi is a traditional remedy for increasing the functioning of the brain. The powerful antioxidants and also the flavonoids present in it improve the memory capacity, focus, concentration, calmness and alertness of an individual. Because it is a brain tonic and stimulator, people taking shankhapushpi have improved memory, reasoning, problem-solving, and other cognitive abilities.
Also check, Herbs that help to get rid of brain fog.
6. Cocoa Powder
Pure cocoa powder (unsweetened) contains brain boosting components as it is packed with a large number of antioxidants molecules, the main is epicatechin helpful to improve cognition and speech impairment in studies. Hence cocoa powder is also an important brain development food for children. This may significantly help out in easily building up the fine motor skills.
Also check, More benefits of cocoa powder.
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