Thursday, January 23, 2014

Common Warning Signs of Dysgraphia in Children in Grades 9-12

Has your teenager always struggled with written expression? Is his or her written work messy, disorganized, and incomplete? If the answer is "yes", review the following list of common warning signs of dysgraphia in high school students. Dysgraphia is a learning disability (LD) that affects writing, which requires a complex set of motor and information-processing skills.

Most people struggle with learning at times, but learning disabilities are different – they may affect performance differently throughout a person’s school years and beyond, but what they share in common is that they persist over time. Dysgraphia is no different. If your child has displayed any of the signs below for at least the past six months, it may be time to seek help from the school or other professionals. Be sure to think back about writing-related challenges your child may have had in preschool and elementary school and share that information (and even work samples if available) when you reach out for help.

Also, be aware that some of the signs listed below also apply to other types of learning disabilities and/or to Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD), which often co-exist. You may want to review out more comprehensive Interactive Learning Disabilities Checklist to clarify your concerns.

For at least the past six months, my child has had trouble:
    * Gripping a pencil comfortably when writing or drawing.
    * Writing neatly, evenly, and legibly.
    * Writing on a line or within margins.
    * Copying letters and numbers neatly and accurately.
    * Spelling even familiar words correctly.
    * Using correct syntax structure and grammar.
    * Expressing written ideas in an organized way.
    * Preparing outlines and organizing written work.
    * Turning ideas spoken aloud into a written format.
    * Thinking of words to write and then remembering to write them down.
    * Focusing on the meaning of what he writes; (because of the physical demands during writing)
    * Maintaining energy and easy posture when writing/drawing.

    * Aligning numbers correctly when doing math problems.

    * Feeling motivated and confident about writing.
    * Taking pride in written work.
    * Responding appropriately to teasing or criticism by peers and adults who don't understand "messy, incomplete, and disorganized" writing.

Don't hesitate to seek help if your teenager displays several of these warning signs. Print out this article, check off the items that apply to your child, and take the list to the educators or other professionals who you seek advice from about your child. The good news is that with proper identification and support, your teenager will be better able to succeed in school, the workplace, and in life.

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