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Have you ever been the only one without rhythm in a room full of dancers? Were you the cackling voice in a chorus?

If you were always the last one chosen for an athletic team, or the one whose brilliant brain computer could not easily digest technological terms… then you may, you just may understand . . . Dysgraphia.

The word dysgraphia derives from the Greek prefix, “dys” = impairment and the suffix “graphia,”= writing symbols by hand. At times, children with dysgraphia may also have dyslexia.

Dysgraphia creates orthographic coding and cognitive (working memory) anxiety, illegible handwriting, special lethargic dissonance from script composition, poor spelling, difficult eye-hand coordination, indiscriminate symbol formation; the inability to differentiate between right-left writing (English/Germanic languages), left-right writing (Arabic/ Semitic languages), and output of ideas on paper.

In order for teachers to create success models, readily identify students with dysgraphia, and to proactively apply fair assessments, modifications and lessons; educators should first embrace an awareness of this brain-based challenge and create curriculum elasticity. It is also important to remember that a child who “hates to write,” may suffer from literacy boredom, and not dysgraphia. A licensed psychologist skilled in learning disabilities should formally diagnose Dysgraphia.

In the United States, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), describes Dysgraphia as a specific learning disability. Illegible, sloppy handwriting, an inability to hold a writing tool with ease, being extremely slow to copy assignments, and frustration with taking ideas from impulse to print are all signs of someone with dysgraphia.

Writing is complex, particularly timed assignments. Simple prose can create great challenges for a child with dysgraphia. To avoid mercurial behavior and ease your student’s angst, teachers and parents must be patient. Avoid criticizing. Your scholars will stand in their brilliance when you create and apply an array of appropriate lessons and assessments that are geared to their ability, without highlighting disability.

These absorbing assignments and abounding assessments can also be used for whole class instruction and/or in learning centers. They need not be an isolated model solely for student(s) with dysgraphia.

Remember, the Native American theory of existence: “Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission.”

I sincerely believe your scholars shall teach you how to create lessons so elastic that you will realize there is “no need to try to bend the spoon.” And together, you can reach great heights. For “it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.” After all, “there is no spoon,” only a lifetime of learning, sharing and growing. !Qué Bueno!

Elastic language lessons, modifications and assessments may include:
  • Out-door/environmental lessons aligned with your curriculum.
  • Using outlines/rubrics/handouts/ graphic organizers for note- taking with student’s name, date, topic, teacher’s name, pertinent information, etc. (Note: Some students may find graphic organizers confusing.)
  • Creating interactive and TPR (Total Physical Response) lessons and assessments.
  • Providing typed copies of classroom notes and/or guided answers.
  • Using a personal computer or iPad to take notes.

By Lisa Fatimah

Lisa-Fátimah is a multilingual, multisensory, Orton- Gillingham trained career educator empowering scholars with special mono/bilingual learning needs.

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