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How To Treat Motor Dysgraphia

How To Treat Motor Dysgraphia

Your child has been diagnosed with motor dysgraphia. You may not be too surprised, as you’ve seen that the quality of his written schoolwork is poor, and his teacher may have discussed the problem with you. 

Our occupational therapists at Little Wonders Pediatric Therapy, with two offices in Charlotte, North Carolina, are trained in strategies to help your child improve his written expression even though he has motor dysgraphia. They also help you and your child advocate for and use learning accommodations. 

What is motor dysgraphia? 

Motor dysgraphia is a condition characterized by poor fine motor skills. Everyone uses fine motor skills daily, whether it’s to brush your teeth or write an email. Your child sees the letters and words, but he cannot reproduce them legibly in writing; there is a lack of coordination between the brain and the muscles. He may also have poor motor dexterity and have trouble holding a regular size pencil while writing.

One study on fine motor skills examined children in kindergarten, second and fourth grade and found that between 37.1% and  60.2% of the school day is spent on fine motor skills, whether it’s writing, unzipping a backpack, buttoning jackets, or using a Smartboard. 

If your child is in early elementary school, he may be showing anxiety or even crying when given a written assignment. Writing for him is a very stressful, laborious activity. However, his spelling may not be affected, and when asked to write one word at a time on spelling tests, he may do fine. 

As your child progresses in school, writing assignments become longer and more complex each year. He needs special help to overcome the stress of motor dysgraphia.

How to treat motor dysgraphia 

The earlier your child is diagnosed and treated, the better he’ll feel about himself as he sees improvement in his written work. Occupational therapy is the standard form of treatment for motor dysgraphia. 

Occupational therapy 

Our occupational therapists work with your child using fun games and skills practice designed as play to improve his fine motor skills and dexterity. They’ll have your child use play dough and other materials to strengthen fingers, hands, and wrists. Our therapists may have your child insert pegs in a pegboard to strengthen his fingers. They use sand and other materials to have your child trace letters. Your child may use sidewalk chalk to draw large letters and short words. Multisensory handwriting strategies are employed. 

Finger aerobics are fine motor movements couched as play that help your child strengthen his fingers and hands and increase sensorimotor awareness.  When he does a “spider crawl” across his desk with his fingers, he’s having fun and developing needed skills. 

Learning aids

Your child may need a special pencil grip that slips onto a regular pencil and provides your child with an easier way to hold the pencil. Special paper can help him with letter size and placement.  A slant board helps him place his hand in the best position for writing and prevents him from hunching over his desk.  

Technology 

Technology helps level the playing field for those who have motor dysgraphia. Once your child is old enough to learn keyboarding, he’ll experience a new freedom and more ease in written expression. 

Having your child use a tape recorder in the classroom becomes increasingly important as your child progresses in school. This way, he can play back content information in class rather than take notes by hand. He should also have an accommodation that allows him to have a copy of the teacher’s notes on the topic. 

Dictation software and other assistive technology tools also may be helpful for your child. 

Call or send a message to Little Wonders Pediatric Therapy for a private consultation about your child’s special needs. We’re your partner in your child’s development.   

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