Dysgraphia? Davis Can Help

Davis methods can help children, whose writing is not progressing at school, and adults, who rely on handwriting for their work.

Dysgraphia

Dysgraphia (handwriting problems) occurs among those with both good and bad coordination. Those who can draw well and those who can’t. Those who have missed out on systematic handwriting instruction and those who have had too much.

Dysgraphia happens for a variety of reasons. This is confusing for educators. Handwriting problems  can be corrected by handwriting instruction in only a minority of cases. In some cases, handwriting instruction makes the problem worse rather than better.

The Davis approach to dysgraphia correction evaluates at least seven reasons why dysgraphia can occur before embarking on an appropriate course of action. These seven reasons are:

  • brain damage

  • physical illness or deformity

which a Davis programme cannot help as they are not related to dyslexia.

  • disorientation

The ability to disorientate, or actively alter your focus, in order to include the imagination in the thought process, is one of the advantages of the thinking and learning style of the dyslexic individual. However, this ability can create distortions of perception when used with symbols, such as letters or words.

Disorientation as a cause of dysgraphia is linked to dyslexia. It follows the same stimulus/response model as reading dyslexia. An individual in an orientated state meets a stimulus that causes disorientation, perhaps only for a split second. This causes the handwriting to go awry.

The stimulus can be a line, shape, or movement. However, lines, shapes and movements on their own do not cause disorientation. The thing that triggers disorientation is an emotion. This emotion is confusion, as is the case with reading dyslexia.

Dyslexics think with the meaning of words or groups of words, not the sound. They find symbols confusing, so they can trigger into disorientation when they see letters.  Most find a way round this once letters become part of a word with a picture, such as cat, tree or table. Words without a picture — e.g. and, but, the, or, of — will still cause confusion that triggers disorientation. Such confusion over letters and words also triggers disorientation when writing leading to dysgraphia. This happens because, when disorientated, the individual does not perceive accurately so will not see that the letters he is drawing are poorly formed.

  • intentionally poor penmanship

is not necessarily related to dyslexia. However, many, if not most, people who do this are likely to be dyslexic.

People with poor spelling, punctuation or grammar, which can frequently be side effects of dyslexia, may use poor handwriting deliberately in an effort to hide these facts.

Once the student has the opportunity to correct their dyslexia  they can address these issues. When dyslexia is no longer a problem, the need for poor handwriting is gone.

  • no or inadequate instruction

If a student has never been given any instruction in writing, this may lead to dysgraphia. However, many children have no problem teaching themselves how to write once they are ready to do so. This readiness, though, may happen at a later age than is required for school.

Inadequate instruction is frequently related to dyslexia. The problem is not that they have had no instruction, it is that disorientation has prevented the child from making sense of the instructions being given to the class. They cannot take in the necessary information accurately. Their instruction was inadequate because the teacher either did not recognise that the child was disorientated, or did not understand the confusion causing disorientation so could not help the child resolve that confusion.

Once the child can be in orientated when writing, it is easy to show how to hold the writing implement properly and draw the letters correctly.

  • multiple mental images

Some dyslexics have an amazing ability to reproduce almost exactly what they see. Even if they cannot actually achieve the perfection they see in their mind’s eye, they have an exact picture that they are trying to copy. Problems arise if the person teaching the child to write does not understand what can happen when a visual model is given to a picture thinker. Each time the teacher writes a letter or word it will, inevitably, be a little different from all the other times…

A student named John is learning to write his name. Here it is –not quite perfect…

John 1

The teacher draws the name, John, next to the student’s attempt, showing how the letters should reach up to the correct lines…

John 2

John tries again. As you can see, it is still not perfect…

John 3

The teacher writes another example, which John tries to copy. As you can see, the teacher’s 2 examples are not the same as each other and John’s attempt is, again, not what the teacher wanted. John is now trying to copy both examples at once. As John is given more and more minutely different pictures to copy…

John 4

he ends up with a mental image that looks something like this…

John 5

The more instruction given, the harder it gets. The pencil is gripped tighter. This causes fatigue in the fingers. John presses harder until the lead breaks or the paper tears. His whole body becomes tense, sometimes to a point where he can no longer hold or use a pen or pencil and the mere thought of writing leads to anxiety.

Multiple mental images need to be addressed by removing all pictures a student may have of how writing should look. When a Davis facilitator addresses multiple mental images, they do this first.

  • inadequate natural orientation

Such a student may never have been fully orientated. Alternatively they began to disorientate much earlier in life than happens with most dyslexics. Their natural orientation is in an unfavourable place, so the individual is never sure where physical reality is. This is the basic cause of dyspraxia.

This person’s co-ordination is poor. He may have perceptual or speech difficulties. Telling left from right will be difficult. Crossing the midline of the body with hand or foot and scanning across it with the eyes will be difficult too.

Sound perception will also be affected. He may hear sounds as garbled, too loud or soft or coming from the wrong direction.

If we look straight at this letter we can see the line of symmetry.

A

A dyspraxic child cannot see this. Because of his midline barrier, if he looks straight at it he sees only half of it. To see the whole letter he shifts his point of focus in order to see it on one side of the midline. This causes him to lose the symmetry and the shape distorts.

Straight lines will become curvy, as in a distorting mirror at the funfair.

No matter how much instruction he gets he will never see the letters accurately so his writing will always be a problem.

Identifying the problem is easy. If the problem is dyspraxia the lines will not be straight and none of the letters will be symmetrical. A Davis programme will give him a stable orientation point from which he can see the world accurately. Koosh ball exercises will  reinforce this. Once the child can be  orientated when writing, it is easy to show how to hold the writing implement properly and draw the letters correctly.

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