View Full Version : Dysgraphia and Dyslexia - can you help me understand?

03-16-2012, 05:45 PM
I'm still not clear on dysgraphia at all.

My son used to turn some of his letters around, but that has pretty much stopped.
Now it's more that he leaves letters out. Like he'll write "becau" instead of "because" on a writing assignment, but WILL spell it correctly on a spelling quiz.
So I thought it was just that his brain was moving faster than his hand and that he was excited about what he was writing.

So I didn't worry.

But then I started noticing that he will also completely skip over entire words when he's reading aloud, or just see the first couple of letters and assume that the word is a different word than it actually is.
So he'll see the "app" in "appearance" but doesn't bother to really look at the rest of the letters, and then jumps to the conclusion that the word is "appealing" or "appliance".
OTOH, his intonation, rhythm, pauses etc. is lovely. He has really good memory for vocabulary and enjoys Language Arts on the whole.

Should I worry? Are these signs of either dysgraphia or dyslexia? I know there are certain exercises we could do if it were the case.
(there are no specialists here, so having him tested or diagnosed aren't options)

03-16-2012, 08:15 PM
My dd does(8.5) the same thing when reading aloud. She reads very quickly (and is generally an impatient person), so I attribute it to that. She always grasps the meaning of the passage/story she is reading.

I notice my ds (6.5) reads aloud much more accurately when there are no pictures. He is a real perfectionist when it comes to phonics, but gets so engrossed in any pictures that his fluency suffers. My so also mixes up d's and b's quite regularily.

To my knowledge, my kids are "normal", did very well in private school last year.

03-16-2012, 08:28 PM
Yes, my ds also seems to have very good comprehension of what he reads, especially when reading silently.

When he was younger he was more careful in his reading, probably because he wasn't as confident.
So I don't know if it's just because he's trying to read fast that he skips or changes words.
And it's really weird because his brain seems to read the word that's on the paper, even though his mouth said a different word.
When I ask him a question about the content afterwards, he says the right word.

03-16-2012, 11:21 PM
It doesn't sound particularly like dyslexia or dysgraphia to me, especially because he can spell it correctly when he's concentrating. However, if spelling while writing is an issue for him, it won't hurt to do some of the same exercises you might do for dysgraphia anyway.

03-17-2012, 12:22 AM
Thank god, I thought my dd was the only one! Honestly, that drives me up the wall, the skipping words or seeing the first part and just guessing. A lot of times it will change the whole sentence with just one missed or guessed word. Her reading has improved a ton this year, but those little things just bug me so much. So maybe instead of thinking of it as lazy reading, I should try and get her to slow down some?

Oh and OP, I know nothing about either issue you mentioned. I just want to say your post gave me some hope.

03-17-2012, 12:29 AM
It doesn't sound particularly like dyslexia or dysgraphia to me, especially because he can spell it correctly when he's concentrating. However, if spelling while writing is an issue for him, it won't hurt to do some of the same exercises you might do for dysgraphia anyway.

I don't know much about dysgraphia. The only exercise I've heard of is cursive writing practice.

03-17-2012, 06:52 AM
My son skips words when reading out loud. Like others have mentioned, he's a fast reader and rather impatient. For him, anyway, I'm sure that's all it is. I just gently point out how important each word is, how skipping words can change the entire meaning of a sentence. To be fair, I sometimes do it to; I'm not terribly strong at reading out loud. I find it slows me down too much and I suspect it's the same with my son.

03-17-2012, 09:40 PM
Ok my DS has the same issue! What I have noticed is the age, it looks like everybody child is about the same age. So, I'm guessing that is might be age related! I hope it is bc I thought something was wrong and had been researching both D's.

03-17-2012, 09:46 PM
My daughter has dyslexia and we talk about slowing down and writing more carefully. She skips letters, reverses letters, and writes many letters backwards. We did cursive and she's learning to type, both of which help her. She almost never physically writes anything without dictating it to me first, so she can separate her thoughts from the physical act of writing.

We also learned a couple of cross-body (touching right hand or right elbow to left knee) and right/left physical activities (right wrist over left wrist, and reverse, over and over almost like a dance and chant that help her if she's reversing lots of letters. We stop working, take a break, and do some of those exercises, then return to writing. She wears a rubber band bracelet on her right hand as well. But her issue is mostly writing letters or whole words backwards as opposed to spelling. She struggles a lot with right and left, and when she gets right and left oriented well, she writes more clearly for some reason.

There are probably other dysgraphia-specific activities that can be googled as well. But I think what you're describing is the effect of age.

03-17-2012, 11:14 PM
[QUOTE=Gabriela;84376]I'm still not clear on dysgraphia at all.

My son definitely has dysgraphia, and while I know all kids are different, I will tell you some of what his issues that led to the dysgraphia disgnosis are.

First off, my son is 11 and has other neurological issues (mild autism, epilepsy etc.). He might also be dyslexic but I am honestly not sure and he will not cooperate with testing, so we are just plugging away.

Dysgraphia is a learning disorder of written expression. His brain KNOWS what he wants to write, and he can definitely read (so we KNOW he knows all his letters), but he CANNOT write them. He cognitively knows what to do but cannot get his hand to do it. It is like there is minimal communication between his brain and his hand. When he is made to write, it actually hurts him. he complained of pain for a long time before the dysgraphia diagnosis and we all thought he was being a drama queen. When I read that pain is a sign of dysgraphia, I felt sick.

When my son was 7 (and technically at the end of first grade), I took him to an occupational therapist due to fine motor concerns, his handwriting included in that. he has ALWAYS had fine motor issues, and at that point had had more occupational therapy that almost anyone I knew, but was still struggling. I wanted a fresh set of eyes on him. The handwriting portion of the test was a sentance that the therapist wrote for him on a piece of paper (the sentance, which I now cannot remember, has every letter in the alphabet in it so they can see how he does on each letter) that he just had to copy onto his own piece of paper. Copying something in front of you is easier and a simpler task than writing what you are thinking about. My son was 7 1/2 at the time, at the end of first grade and did so poorly on the copying that he was lower than the 1st percentile. He couldn't actually be scored at all because he scored lower than the test goes, and the test goes low enough to test brand new kindergarteners. So at that point, he had at least 2 year delay in his handwriting.

So now he is 11. A little over a year ago, my 4 year old cousin made us a valentine and wrote her name on it. her name has 8 letters in it. My son's name has three. If you put her writing next to my son's it is almost impossible to tell the difference. My son, even at 11, writes letters that are 2-3 inches tall that look like a 3 year old wrote them. We were told years ago not to focus on the writing at all, teach him to type. He cannot even remember what he is trying to write long enough to write it because his brain is working so hard to get the message to his hand. It is like he loses his train of thought even when just trying to write one word. My son's name is Sam. He KNOWS his name is Samuel. He can identify accurately all the letters in his name. If I give him index cards with each letter written individually on each card, he can use them to spell Samuel. He knows how to spell his name, no question. If I give him pen and paper and ask him to write it, he cannot do it.

I hope this was clear, if not please feel free to contact me any time. I am certainly no expert in any of this, but I have been fighting dysgraphia with my son for many years :)


03-18-2012, 11:10 AM
Shayna, it sounds like you've had quite a time with Sam, but it also sounds like you're on top of it and you're not letting his disability get in the way of his learning - exactly as it should be! The sentence is "The quick red fox jumped over the lazy brown dog" or similar to that, in all likelihood. I have used that one with my son many times.

My son is an excellent reader, has great diction while he's reading aloud, but unless he's performing for an audience (one of his passions) he tends to skip over words. I just gently remind him to pay more attention to what he's reading. I have to do it pretty much every single time he reads, but he concentrates more after a reminder and reads all the words. This is a great improvement over two years ago, and it's just taken some time to get him to realize that they're all important - either to the meaning or (in the case of poetry esp) to the flow of the writing. I feel that as time goes on, with reminders along the way, he'll get to the point where it isn't an issues at all. Of course he has NO problem pointing out when I have skipped or substituted a word in my reading!!

03-18-2012, 02:00 PM
My son is 9yo and his handwriting is (IMO) more like a 7yo's.
After hearing Sam's story, I think my son's thing may be more age related, or just regular old heavy-handedness.
Thanks Shayna, for sharing. As well as for the reminder that we should always try to give our kids the benefit of the doubt on these things until we know for sure.
I know I've failed on that front many times and stressed him out over things that he really couldn't change.

(the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog - we use it for typing practice :))

03-18-2012, 02:04 PM
Of course he has NO problem pointing out when I have skipped or substituted a word in my reading!!

Yup, mine too. And with that annoying little "ha-ha mom screwed up" tone of voice. I try to to give a good example by correcting my mistake and not saying "but I did say it like that" like ds does. But sometimes I just have to respond with an "Aaaargh, could you be a bit more constructive in your criticism Mr. Smarty Pants?

03-18-2012, 03:04 PM
(the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog - we use it for typing practice :))

There you go! I thought I had some extra there lol

03-24-2012, 06:56 AM
My older son is dysgraphic, and it is truly a disabling situation. At 14, he long ago learned to type, which helped dramatically. He can type mature prose with proper punctuation, capitalization, and spelling, all while communicating an idea. He can almost never hand write even a sentence with the same characteristics. Like Shayna wrote, his brian knows what he wants to write, but his hand cannot do it. Additionally, writing makes his hand hurt, and no pencil grip or special pen makes any difference. I, too, thought he was being dramatic until OT confirmed that pain was common. Ouch.

I'd like to say that HWT or some other program helped, but it didn't. OT didn't change a thing, but it did help me understand the magnitude of the problem. THey also taught him (at 10) to tie his shoes and use a knife, as these sorts of skills also eluded him. He's an amazing pianist, but many other tasks requiring gradation of pressure and fine motor finesse are really awful for him. He's ready for classes at a local university next fall, and we've recently seen psychology to keep his diagnosis current and receive a professional set of accommodations, including keyboarding for all testing requiring more than single word answers and extra time.

Dysgraphia can extend beyond the mechanical end of writing and into the planning and execution of composing via keyboard, too. Typing isn't magic. Some kids have more success with dictation software, like Dragon Naturally Speaking, although training these programs can be a bit much for some young voices. My son also has ADHD, and sorting out which of his composition problems stem from organizational issues associated with that and which are from the dysgraphia is not a doable task.

Hope that helps!

03-24-2012, 06:48 PM
Thanks Sarah.

Some of that sounds familiar.
Is his handwriting completely illegible?

My son's handwriting is legible - the letters themselves anyway - what makes it illegible is the leaving out of letters.

03-24-2012, 07:58 PM
My 8yo dd does the same kinda thing. She will be so engrossed in what she is doing that she will often times flip up her b's and d's, and several of her numbers (mostly 5 & 7 though). I just remind her to slow down a bit and focus on what/how she is writing. She also will skip over words while reading or just insert words that she will assume is the right word.

To date, none of these things have affected anything, and her memory of what she has read isn't affected. I'm not really worried about it, I just think her brain goes at a faster speed than her hands and mouth can keep up with.

03-24-2012, 09:17 PM
Thanks Sarah.

Some of that sounds familiar.
Is his handwriting completely illegible?

My son's handwriting is legible - the letters themselves anyway - what makes it illegible is the leaving out of letters.

It's not completely illegible all the time, but his ability to create usable notes from a lecture is severely compromised since HE can't even read what he wrote. Numbers are better, and he manages with rather advanced math and the writing it demands. Right now, his six and zero are often interchangeable, and since I point it out constantly in the homework (reminding him that since he tends to make them look the same that he needs to pay extra attention to them in final answers), I have no problem marking a problem wrong if I can't tell which it is. Keep in mind he's almost 15 and heading to take Calculus next fall at a local university. At 9, he wrote almost nothing, including almost no math. He's come a long way, but that doesn't mean he'll ever have truly functional handwriting.

03-25-2012, 01:13 PM
Yup, we have the 0 vs 6 problem here big time. It's constantly screwing up his math work. Drives us both crazy.
Ok. So maybe it is dysgraphia. Now what? There are no specialists where I live. Probably not even in the whole country.

03-25-2012, 09:56 PM
A psychologist or occupational therapist would be helpful. The psychologist's blessing and accommodations for classes at the university were what we needed. OT can be helpful for some kids as well. Best advice we received: drastically lower written workload, teach typing, consider voice recognition programs, and scribe for the child. I'm glad to answer any questions.

03-26-2012, 09:48 AM
Thank you Sarah.