At a glance
There are different teaching strategies that can help with dysgraphia.
There’s no medication for dysgraphia.
Assistive technology can be a big help to kids who have difficulty writing.
If your child has dysgraphia, or if you think your child may have dysgraphia, you may be wondering what can help.
There are no medications for dysgraphia. But there are therapies and teaching strategies that can address your child’s difficulties with writing. (AT) can also help. And there are many things you can do at home to improve writing-related skills and encourage your child to write.
Learn about the strategies and supports that can help kids with dysgraphia.
Instruction and support for dysgraphia
Writing is a complicated process that involves many skills. There are no specific teaching approaches or programs just for dysgraphia. That doesn’t mean teachers can’t help kids with writing issues, however.
There are specific teaching techniques to help kids with dysgraphia. (They can help other struggling writers, too.) Teachers will choose the strategies they use based on a student’s specific challenges.
Writing challenges are often related to reading issues. Many kids with dysgraphia also have . They may need to work on basic reading skills like in order to write well.
Decoding is especially important for spelling. So to help with this skill, teachers might focus on:
- Letter-sound relationships
- Syllable patterns
- Relations between meanings and letter groupings
Kids with dysgraphia don’t naturally pick up on the rules of writing. Teachers use explicit instruction to help them learn these rules. They might teach kids where to put verbs and nouns in a sentence, for example, and how and where to use punctuation.
They also might teach students a prompt or cue to help them recall the unique parts of a particular kind of writing, like a story. (This is called a mnemonic.) And teachers might give students a graphic organizer to help them plan a paper.
One area kids with dysgraphia often struggle with is transcription. This broad skill covers handwriting, keyboarding, and spelling.
Teachers may use multisensory techniques to help kids improve in this area. Assistive technology for writing can also help kids build skills and work around weak spots.
There are also a number of classroom accommodations for dysgraphia. These include extended time, teacher-made outlines for taking notes, and being able to answer test questions orally instead of in writing.
Therapies for dysgraphia
Some kids with dysgraphia struggle with the physical act of writing. Occupational therapy can often help with this. Therapists can work to improve the hand strength and fine motor coordination needed to type and write by hand. They might also help kids learn the correct arm position and body posture for writing.
Educational therapy can help kids with other aspects of writing. Therapists can teach kids strategies to work around their weak spots.
They might help kids use positive self-talk to manage writing challenges. Therapists may also help kids with setting reasonable and relevant goals for writing. And they might show them how to track goal progress with visual tools. These strategies help kids approach writing assignments in ways that reduce frustration.
Treatment for co-occurring challenges
Kids with learning and thinking differences often have more than one condition at the same time. It’s common for kids with dysgraphia to also have ADHD, anxiety, and/or depression. Dyslexia also often co-occurs with dysgraphia.
ADHD treatment like medication doesn’t directly help with dysgraphia. But treating the symptoms of ADHD, like inattention, can help to reduce some of the trouble kids have with writing. The same is true of anti-anxiety medication and antidepressants.
Therapy for these conditions may also help. That includes cognitive behavioral therapy and behavior therapy.
Dyslexia and dysgraphia are different. But there’s some overlap between them. Working on reading problems can also help with writing challenges. (Working on writing issues can do the same for reading problems.) There are a number of approaches and programs for teaching kids with dyslexia to read.
Ways to help with dysgraphia at home
There are many ways you can help your child build writing skills at home. Try out pencil grips and other tools that may make writing easier. Download tools to help with handwriting and graphic organizers to help with writing assignments.
Have your child try strategies for self-regulation in writing. You can also look into apps, software, and Chrome tools that help with writing.
Occupational therapy can help kids with the physical act of writing.
Educational therapy can help kids learn better ways to approach writing assignments.
There are lots of tools, like pencil grips, apps, and graphic organizers, that can make writing easier for your child at home and at school.
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About the author
About the author
The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.
Gary A. Troia, PhD is an expert in phonological processing, writing instruction, and professional development in literacy.