By: ISABELLA CHECHELE
Most people have heard of dyslexia before. In case you haven’t, dyslexia is a learning disability that primarily affects reading abilities. People with dyslexia may have trouble with processing and understanding text, following a sequence of directions, organizing their thoughts while speaking, and other related skills. According to LD Online, an estimated 5 to 15 percent of Americans are dyslexic; that’s around 14.5 to 43.5 million people.
So with a disability mainly focused on reading difficulties, you’d expect there to be another that’s focused on writing difficulties, right? Well, you’d be correct!
Which brings us to just that: dysgraphia. Dysgraphia, as you can probably guess, is a learning disability that primarily affects writing abilities. Specifically, the physical act of writing (affected by fine motor coordination), but it does have some effect on the mental process of writing as well.
A common signifier of dysgraphia is messy or illegible handwriting, which can be difficult for even the person who’s written it to understand. This includes letters and words in the same sentence(s) being written with different shapes, sizes, slants and even styles, such as switching between print and cursive. However, sloppy handwriting does not always mean the writer has dysgraphia; nor do all people with dysgraphia write sloppily. Some are able to write neatly and legibly-but this comes with the price of their writing taking a lot more time and effort than others, often with the person having to frequently erase and rewrite their letters and words.
Other signs of dysgraphia include organizational problems. Whereas dyslexia mostly affects a person’s ability to organize their thoughts through speech, dysgraphia is more concerned with the ability to organize thoughts through writing. This can manifest through oddly spaced words and letters, run-on sentences, and weak spatial planning (which helps you to not run out of space on a line when writing).
So how does a person actually develop dysgraphia? Simply put, it depends on the age someone is at when they start to experience symptoms. For adults, it can develop as a result of a brain injury, such as a stroke. For children and teenagers, that answer is less clear, but it has often been shown to develop alongside other mental conditions such as language disorders, ADHD, or of course, dyslexia.
If you’ve related to any of this simple information, it’s a good idea to look more into the topic. Expand your research on dysgraphia (or dyslexia), and if you still find yourself resonating with it, please consider seeking out a proper diagnosis from a medical professional, such as a psychologist or diagnostician. While dysgraphia has no permanent solution or cure, there are many ways to practice and improve your writing ability, and for children and teens, accommodations can be made in school, like giving extra time on writing assignments or letting students type them instead.