Writing Disorder: Expression

Audrey’s Story:
Audrey is in first grade. She does well in math and fair in reading. But she has a great deal of trouble writing. She has a hard time holding the pencil or marker and can’t seem to organize her thoughts to even finish a sentence prompt. She can get the picture down on paper, but not the words to finish the prompt. What should her teacher do? What will help her with her pencil trouble?

What is a Writing Disorder:
• Learning disabilities in writing can involve the mental activity of comprehending and synthesizing information.
• Expressive writing disability indicates a struggle to organize thoughts on paper.
• Impaired written language ability may include impairments in handwriting, spelling, organization of ideas, and composition.
• This also includes issues in handwriting, or dysgraphia, and spelling.
• It also the includes creativity and mechanics of writing.

• There is no known cause for dysgraphia (difficulty in writing) although the condition very rarely occur independently. Although, there is a lot of speculation, It’s highly believed that dysgraphia is a neurological disorder that is generally the result of any number of other dysfunctions.
• It is difficult to assess prevalence because of differing nomenclatures and assessments of the disorder; most are diagnosed concomitantly with other learning disabilities. “It is estimated that five to twenty per-cent of all children show some form of no optimal fine motor behavior, including writing disorders.

Characteristics of Students:
Symptoms of a written language learning disability revolve around the act of writing and include. They include problems with:
• neatness and consistency of writing
• accurately copying letters and words
• spelling consistency
• writing organization and coherence
• Pain or discomfort in holding a writing utensil.
• Finishing a written prompt.

How is this Disability Identified:
• Learning disabilities are often identified by school psychologists, clinical psychologists, and neurophysiologists through a combination of intelligence testing, academic achievement testing, classroom performance, and social interaction and aptitude.
• Other areas of assessment may include perception, cognition, memory, attention, and language abilities. The resulting information is used to determine whether a child's academic performance is commensurate with his or her cognitive ability. If a child's cognitive ability is much higher than his or her academic performance, the student is often diagnosed with a learning disability.
• The most commonly used comprehensive achievement tests include the Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ III), Weschler Individual Achievement Test II (WIAT II), the Wide Range Achievement Test III (WRAT III), and the Stanford Achievement Test–10th edition. These tests include measures of many academic domains that are reliable in identifying areas of difficulty.

• Processing Speed Index scores from the WISC-III
• Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration
• Bender-Gestalt
• Jordan Left-Right Reversal Test
• Trails tests from the Halstead-Reitan Neuropsychological battery

• Most important, psychologists must determine what kind of writing instruction the student has received in order to diagnose the presence of dysgraphia.

How do these Learners Receive their Education:
• By participating in general education classrooms with the help of an aide.
• Resource Room instruction regarding writing in addition to the general education instruction.
• Simply participating in general education classrooms.

What are the Best Educational Practices:
Cursive writing -Another technique that makes handwriting easier for the dysgraphic student. Because the letters have a different shape and look to it, the student is less likely to reverse their letters. This alleviates the stress on the student to remember which letter goes which way. Cursive writing is also a fluid motion, meaning that the pencil never leaves the paper. The fluid motion helps a student with dysgraphia write better because the letters smoothly flow one into the other without the sharp breaks that are found in manuscript.
Writing in grits or sandpaper -Tactile learning is a method of teaching that allows the student to feel what they are seeing and hearing. When a student is asked to trace out letters in the grits, they are feeling the motion of the letter instead of just seeing it. Sandpaper works much the same way as grits because it has a rough texture that is easily felt with the hand.
Letter songs or familiar clues -It is difficult for a dysgraphic student to remember how to correctly write the letters. Letter songs and clues can help the student remember what position the letter takes. With a letter song, the strokes of the letter are described in a simple tune that a child recognizes and will adopt. Familiar clues are another technique that helps the student recall proper letter formation. An example of this would be the letter "b." First, the fireman slides down the pole and circles for a belly. Both the illustration of a fireman sliding down a long pole is familiar and so is a belly.
Letter tiles -Like the word processor, letter tiles eliminate the stress and strain of handwriting. A student will form the word with tiles instead of writing it on the paper.
Brainstorm -It is helpful for most students to brainstorm before writing a story or a paragraph, for a dysgraphic student it is essential. Since it is difficult for dysgraphic students to compose writing, they must start off on a basic level. First they must write the Topic Sentence to describe what the story or paper is going to be about. Next they must brainstorm ideas to go into the body of the paper. One format that is successful for dysgraphic students is to form a web of ideas (otherwise known as a graphic organizer). In the web the main idea sits in the center circle and the one or two word details are in separate circles, attached to the main idea. Finally, the concluding sentence is written.
Piece together -Putting the pieces together is the next step. This involves writing the topic sentence in the paragraph, then composing sentences from the details in the web. Finally the concluding sentence is added to the paragraph to wrap it all up.
Proofreading -Proofreading is a valuable technique to teach all students, including ones with dysgraphia. COPS and CPSH are a couple of the acronyms used to help remember the proofreading process. COPS stands for Capitalization, Overall appearance, Punctuation and Spelling. CPSH stands for Capitalization, Punctuation, Spelling and Handwriting.

More time to finish assignments -Because the handwriting and writing process itself is time consuming and difficult for a dysgraphic student, assigning more time to complete class work is necessary.
Computer access -This will reduce the amount of stress and strain on the dysgraphic student by eliminating the handwriting aspect of the assignments. It will also allow them to proofread and correct their work with ease.
Pencil grips -These are helpful in relieving some of the strain on the hands of the dysgraphic child while writing something by hand.
Letter tiles -These also eliminate the stress and strain of handwriting for the student with dysgraphia by allowing them to arrange the tiles to form a word. This does not work for writing multiple words and paragraphs though.
Computer software -This software is wonderful because it not only allows the student to web ideas on the computer, but it also converts the web into an outline format to make it easier for the student to transition it into a paper or story. Inspiration Software

Inclusive Practices:
• An aide to help with the writing process.
• This may include doing the writing as the student is dictating or helping the student organize their thoughts on paper.
• There may need to be resource room time to help build hand muscles or organizational abilities.
• A note taking partner.

Continuum of Extent or Severity in Youngsters:
• Can range from simple jerking movements in writing to severe pain and wilder movements.
• Can be as simple as not knowing where to start a writing assignment to as complex as not being able to create ideas to write about.
Disorders of Written Expression,writing disorders,LEARNING DISABILITY
Disorders of Written Expression,writing disorders,LEARNING DISABILITY

Problems in producing writing that do not seem to be linked to a child’s overall intelligence.
Individuals with writing disorders typically have problems in several areas of writing, such as sentence structure, punctuation, spelling, or generating ideas and language in written form. Their ability to express concepts in writing may generally be far more limited than their ability to do so in spoken language, or it may be consistent with their oral-language functioning. In some cases the quality of the writing produced may be the primary difficulty; this might include problems with syntax, word meanings, spelling, grammar, or structure and organization.

Special Challenges for General Education:
• Some of these students have physical pain during the writing process. Easing that pain so they can complete and assignment is necessary.
• Some of these students cannot organize their thoughts or create ideas for writing. This means that help is needed in charting or organizing thoughts.

Assistive Technology Accommodations:
Pencil grips -Because students with dysgraphia have a difficult time writing, pencil grips are necessary. The grips position the student's fingers so they are grasping the pencil correctly. When the student is properly holding the pencil, they are able to write with less effort. This alleviates some of the stress the student encounters with handwriting.
Tape recorder to record thoughts to later be put in order or for taking notes.
Word-processing -By using a word processor to type out words, the teacher is eliminating the stress of handwriting all together for the dysgraphic student. Instead of having to think about how each letter is formed, the student has to visually recognize the letter on the keyboard and simply push the key. A word processor also allows the student to make changes without excessive erasing.
Computer -The computer is a valuable asset for a child with dysgraphia. Not only does it have the word processing which eliminates the handwriting and helps with proofreading and corrections, but it also has software that can help the student in the other stages of writing. The computer program Inspiration allows the student to web their ideas on the computer in the same format they use when writing it by hand

Wraparound Service:
• There are summer programs at local facilities and ones provided by schools to assist students throughout the year in building their abilities.

Is this a School Issue or a Life Issue:
• This issue becomes both as it impairs many life functions.
• Any education post high school may become difficult as much writing is required.
• At home they need assistance with homework and daily writing necessities.
• Much work must be done on computer or word processor.

How does this Affect Home:
• These students if given proper tools can function at home.
• A tape recorder will help if a grocery list is needed or a list of chores is to be noted.
• Parents will need to assist in the writing process often.
• Any homework requiring writing will need extra assistance.

Name someone who has Achieved Greatness:
• Illiterate at age twelve, but able to memorize anything, was General George Patton. He became one of the most famous World War II generals.
• Albert Einstein who became a scientist.

How Can You Make a Difference for the Child:
• Give them tools to help them in life- tape recorder, pencil grips, organizational charting lessons, etc.
• Letting them know you are there to help and they aren’t alone.
• Giving tools and techniques to help ease their workload.

How Can You Support Parents:
Limiting the amount of written assignments sent home.
• Sending tools such as the pencil grip or organizational chart ideas home for them to use.
• Giving them other strategies necessary for them to help their student.

Other Resources:
[[Written Expression Disorder|emedicine.medscape.com/article/1835883-overview ]]