Dyslexia is usually defined when an individual experiences difficulty with the following reading-related skills; spelling of words, rapidly reading, writing out words, sounding out words mentally, word pronunciation and understanding what is being read. It is often not diagnosed until children reach school age.
The diagnosis for dyslexia is done through testing vision, spelling, memory, and reading. Individuals with dyslexia generally do not have a learning disorder and have normal intelligence and desire to learn. Both genetic and environmental factors have been known to contribute to dyslexia and specifically involve the brain’s language processing center; it can coexist with other diagnoses such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and emotional instabilities. There is no cure for dyslexia, but there are techniques that can improve and resources that can reduce the frustration associated with it.
Accommodations and interventions for dyslexia
Several techniques have been developed, which can assist an individual with overcoming and or reducing the challenges associated with dyslexia. Specific focus is practiced to connect the alphabet letters to the combined sounds they make, memorizing sounds with grouping specific letters, as well as combining activities such as reading and spelling together. Reducing stress and external distraction can be helpful by allowing the individual extra time and a comfortable quiet place to focus.
There are specific fonts that can be utilized, which are reducing the similarity of shapes in letters. This can be easily confused using standard fonts; using a larger font size and adjusting the spacing of letters is also helpful. Students experiencing this may be assigned to an intervention specialist, who assists the child throughout the day and in various subjects and assists the teacher in the application of techniques that will improve reading and comprehension.
Dysgraphia is classified as a writing or transcription disability that involves barriers in the motor skills required for writing and recording information. Those diagnosed with dysgraphia show difficulty in handwriting, transferring mental thoughts to text and show limited, slow or involuntary motions while writing, which makes recognition of written text challenging.
Those with dysgraphia may exhibit difficulties performing other fine motor skills; it is believed to be caused by genetics, but physical injury can also cause symptoms. Young children may first exhibit dysgraphia traits when coloring “outside” of the lines, tracing and copying letters appears difficult, or inability to tie a shoe. Various tests like writing tests, including digital devices, can measure and finetune the specific movements found in atypical writing and create a more direct plan for intervention. Those with dysgraphia may exhibit unusual writing posture, hand placement, and figure usage; they may find writing fatiguing.
Other visible signs of dysgraphia include:
- Excessive erasing, slow
- Poor legibility combined with incorrect spelling
- Incorrect use of lines
- Spatial placement
These signs will exhibit emotional frustration and often want to avoid tasks that involve writing or activities involving attention to detail using the hands. Dysgraphia can lead to poor self-esteem and decrease cognitive retention and learning potential. Individuals with dyslexia generally have normal intelligence and desire to learn, but if not diagnosed and interviewed early may fall behind on grade level proficiency assessments.
Accommodations and interventions for dysgraphia
Children with dysgraphia benefit from occupational therapy to help strengthen muscles and build neurologic connections and improve kinesthetic function. In the classroom, students will work with an intervention specialist to reinforce writing techniques, which improve student comprehension, minimize frustration and improve self-esteem. Students may be given extra time, modified or specialized instructions, or utilize technology to complete assignments and improve cognition and legibility.
While it is possible for a child to have both dyslexia and dysgraphia, the majority of the time the child will have one or the other with secondary traits of the other.