There is no one place in the brain that is responsible for writing and there are several different ways dysgraphia can manifest itself. The strategies or methods used should target where the breakdown is occurring.
Strategy 1. If the student has difficulty gripping a writing utensil, then experiment with different pens or pencils, encourage proper grip and posture, or develop keyboarding skills to compensate.
Strategy 2. If the student with dysgraphia has difficulty remembering how to form letters, reinforce letter formation with large motor movements, smaller hand/finger motions, and multisensory reinforcements such as visual and auditory cues. Practice the letters and sounds many different ways (see it, hear it, say it, trace it with a body part). Find tricks to help the student remember letters, e.g. for the direction of b’s and d’s use your hands to make the shape of a bed. With both hands make a fist, the palms toward you. Leave your thumbs up. Your thumbs form the top of the b (headboard) and the d (foot of the bed). You can always remember the direction of b and d using this trick.
Strategy 3. If the student with dysgraphia has difficulty spelling or sequencing letters, use multi-sensory techniques to establish visual, auditory, and motor memory. Fonts 4 Teachers is a program that can help them spell and write faster.
Strategy 4. If the student with dysgraphia has difficulty organizing thoughts, use the steps of the writing process:
a. P-Plan what you are going to write about.
b. O-Organize with idea maps or outlines.
c. W-Write your thoughts-if you can’t get started with a blank page, start with an index
d. E-Edit your own writing as well as have someone else edit your draft.
e. R-Revise your draft with your own and someone else’s edits.
Additionally, help the student find someone whose writing he/she really likes and ask the person to model how to get started, organize ideas, usehandwriting software, etc.. It even helps to have the model edit the individual’s writing. Encourage them to ask the model what they are thinking when they make changes or edits. The law of good writing is that every writer gets help, especially good writers.
Strategy 5. If the student with dysgraphia has a voice in his/her head that is critical during writing, help him/her develop a response to it. For example, if writing reminds him/her of a teacher that said he/she was a terrible speller, teach them to respond by saying, “Maybe I am a poor speller, but I can revise it later and use spell-check.”
Strategy 6. If the student with dysgraphia can’t get ideas down on paper, provide him/her time to talk them out or dictate them into a tape recorder. With taped notes he/she can fast-forward through ideas or stop the tape when an idea needs to be fleshed out.
Strategy 7. If the student with dysgraphia has difficulty generating ideas, teach him/her to pay attention to how the authors organize their ideas. It isn’t cheating to organize one’s ideas in the same way as long as the ideas/wording aren’t the same. Also pay attention to phrases or words the author uses. One can always start with wording that he/she likes and develop ideas from there.
Compiled by the Learning Disabilities Association of Minnesota