In recent years we are starting to better understand learning disabilities and how they affect the way students perform in class. Dysgraphia is a condition that, like Dyslexia, can often be confused with distraction and lack of motivation. Dysgraphic children risk falling behind in school if they are not diagnosed and successfully treated. Luckily, also thanks to education technology, there are several effective ways to help these students.
What is Dysgraphia and how does it affect students?
Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects spelling, handwriting, spacial planning on paper and one’s capacity of thinking while writing. Students who are affected by it will have difficulties expressing themselves in writing. This struggle could cause them to become overwhelmed, lose motivation and avoid tasks that involve writing altogether. Students with Dysgraphia do not understand the information they are writing, and this risks to keep them behind the rest of their class.
How can Dysgraphia be diagnosed?
Just because a child is struggling or has poor handwriting it does not mean they have dysgraphia. Although there are no tests for diagnosing this learning disability, professionals like school psychologists can use a series of assessments to determine whether the child is affected by dysgraphia and which type and classification they may have. There are two types of Dysgraphia: specific and non-specific:
- we talk about non-specific Dysgraphia when several mental or psychological disorders add up to the disability
- specific Dysgraphia is caused by coordination, language and spelling problems.
Treatment is possible in both ways, and it can focus on motor coordination skills or on cognitive behavioral therapy depending on the type and severity of the diagnosis. It is also worth notig that some children have been found to improve with the help of ADHD or anti-anxiety medication.
How can teachers help?
There are many things teachers can do to help children who are struggling with this disability.
Depending on the student’s diagnosis, a teacher could allow them to use oral exams as an alternative to written texts, or even letting them dictate their answers.
A good tactic for less severe cases would be to encourage the student to write. This can be done by allowing them to complete an assignment in multiple sessions, teaching grip and posture, and integrating hand exercises to avoid cramping.
Patience is a key factor when it comes to teaching students that struggle with Dysgraphia, and we recommend teachers to always communicate openly with the child’s parents.
How can EduTech help to assist students affected by Dysgraphia?
The use of a keyboard can be extremely helpful for students who struggle with their handwriting, but that is not the only way EduTech can assist students affected by Dysgraphia. E-pens and specific apps can make a real difference, not only accomodating a Dysgraphic child’s needs, but improving his condition in the long term.
Excercises like copying letters and drawing straight lines are made much easier on devices such as Acer Chromebook Spin 11. Thanks to its Stylus Pen it allows students to overcome many of the feelings of frustration they experience when writing. Being able to instantly erase any mistake makes writing less overwhelming and more approachable, and exercises that cater specifically to Dysgraphic students can be easily found online.
The Chromebook Spin 11 is extremely light and easy to carry around, making it more convenient for students to work on their exercises at school and at home. A tool like this can make a huge difference in the learning experience of someone affected by a learning disability.