What is dysgraphia?
Dysgraphia is a Specific Learning Disorder (SLD) in written expression. Dysgraphia makes writing difficult; children and teenagers with dysgraphia often display troubles with spelling, handwriting, written expression, and clarity and accuracy of writing. They may also have difficulties with organising letters, words and numbers on a page with appropriate alignment.
Dysgraphia is commonly divided into two subtypes; motor-based and language-based:
Children with motor-based dysgraphia experience difficulties with the mechanical aspects of handwriting (such as pencil control, pencil grip, pencil pressure and letter formation) which means they often find writing to be tiring and laborious. In this case, referral to an Occupational Therapist is often recommended.
Language-based dysgraphia refers to difficulties associated with structuring and sequencing ideas in writing. These difficulties are often due to troubles with processing, whether it be trouble processing what the eyes sees, or trouble making sense of what the ears hear. Students with language-based dysgraphia are able to verbally express themselves with clarity, but the content of their written work is often below the level expected for their age.
When can a student be assessed for language-based dysgraphia?
At Early Start Australia | WA | Subiaco, we suggest that assessment for dysgraphia is appropriate from Year 5 onwards. Children in their early primary school years require time and support to develop skills associated with good written expression, including;
- vocabulary development
- use of correct conventions (spelling, punctuation and grammar)
- explicit teaching in simple, compound and complex sentences
- direct instruction in paragraph composition for different purposes (creative or persuasive)
- understanding the process of writing (planning ideas, drafting, revising and editing).
We receive many requests from students in upper high school and at university to assess and diagnose language-based dysgraphia. In these cases, we make targeted recommendations for students to work towards improving their written expression skills.
How is dysgraphia diagnosed?
An intellectual (IQ) assessment is an essential component of the dysgraphia testing process to understand an individual student’s personal strengths and struggles, plus rule out other difficulties (such as language disorders, intellectual impairments, or attentional problems). Our tailored cross-battery of tests and specific knowledge allow us to gain a deeper and more accurate understanding of each individual’s underlying difficulties, which assists our psychologists in making an appropriate diagnosis.
Our dysgraphia assessment process involves the following steps:
- Parent Initial Consultation – 50 minutes
- Intellectual (IQ) Assessment – 90 minutes
- Functional Assessment of Literacy – 90 minutes
- Results Interpretation and Report Preparation – please allow 3 to 4 weeks following the assessment
- Parent Feedback Consultation – 50 minutes