Dyslexia, DCD and dysgraphia – what do those learning differences mean and how do they affect your child?

Dyslexia, DCD, and dysgraphia – what do those learning differences mean and how do they affect your child?

Dyslexia, DCD, and Dysgraphia are 3 different types of conditions. They are all conditions that are common so there is a chance that your child may have one of these 3. Let’s have a look into each of these learning disorders.

What Is dyslexia?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dyslexia is best described as an unexpected difficulty with being able to read. Children that have dyslexia may encounter problems when it comes to the recognition and manipulation of sounds with language. Decoding words is something that children with dyslexia will have great difficulty with, which essentially means breaking down these words or phonemes and then sounding out novel words. Dyslexia makes it hard for the child to recognize words, read and write properly, and even spell properly. It’s important to note that a child who has dyslexia does not necessarily lack intelligence. A child with dyslexia may not even be that far behind their other peers in school due to the hard effort they may be putting in to be at the same level as everyone else in their class. However, it must be noted that this is only sustainable for a child with dyslexia for so long. As they start to get older in school they will struggle to keep up with their fellow classmates as the reading, writing, and spelling will, of course, become harder as they grow older. Dyslexia is something that isn’t necessarily an illness but is something that a person will have throughout their entire life.

However, by taking the appropriate measures towards understanding the difficulties and challenges are that come with having dyslexia it can then be made much easier to live with. When really delving into dyslexia and its impact it will have on a person, it is something that is a brain-based issue with language. That is why kids will have issues with being able to work with the sounds of language. It’s important to remember that reading issues may still exist for children with dyslexia even after they have been able to learn and read properly. The ability for a child to read that has dyslexia is more so a mechanical one. This is why children which have dyslexia will best be able to learn with reading programs that are systematic and take an explicit multisensory approach to. By doing this it will enhance the likelihood of a child being able to successfully identify words.

 

 

What is DCD?

Dyspraxia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DCD an abbreviation for developmental coordination disorder is a condition that is lifelong for a human being which makes it difficult for the person to learn motor skills and will also have issues with their coordination. DCD unlike Dyslexia is not known as a learning disorder, but it will have the ability to have an impact on their learning. Instead of being labeled as a learning disorder, it is seen as a neurodevelopment disorder. ADHD which you may be aware of is also a neurodevelopment disorder.  Things like physical tasks and activities in school will be what the child with DCD will tend to struggle with. When looking at how many kids are living with this condition, it lands in and around the 5 percent mark. It is important to note, however, that DCD is something that is more common with boys than with girls. There is no way for a child to grow out of having this condition but applying the necessary steps, will go a long way to improving the child’s motor skills. Many things which a child will need to learn when in school will prove to be difficult for them due to them having DCD, examples of this being writing and organisation. It’s not only in school where DCD will be an issue for a child, it’s also outside of the classroom. For instance, their motor skills will be affected when it comes to them brushing their teeth and putting on clothes also. Earlier lessons that kids would have learned will be affected as they will not necessarily remember what they were first thought. If they were told to put a knife in their right hand and a fork in their left, they may not remember this and end up doing the opposite and not learning from their wrongdoings. The key to overcome DCD is to understand as early as possible the difficulties your child is facing and to take the necessary steps to overcome them.

 

What is Dysgraphia?

Dysgraphia is a disability that affects a person’s ability to write. Not only does it affect ones writing ability it will also cause a person to have issues with their motor skills. Spelling, word spacing, and sizing are things which are aspects that a person with dysgraphia will have. Let’s take a look at some of the symptoms that come from having dysgraphia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Painfully gripping a pen or pencil by holding too firm.
  • The sentence structure is off what it should be.
  • Writing down the thoughts you may have in your head onto the paper.

 

These symptoms are able to change over time, as usual, it’s the mechanics of writing which young people will tend to have whereas it’d be more so grammar and comprehension difficulties for adults.

 

So, what causes a person to have dysgraphia? Scientists are not sure as to why it happens to children. When an adult is diagnosed with it, it can be related to a brain injury such as a stroke. Like other disorders which have been previously discussed, there is no cure for Dysgraphia. Things you can try in order to help your child may range from using grips on pencils for comfort to letting them use a computer as an alternative to writing and teach the person typing skills as early as possible.

 

What can you do to overcome your child’s poor handwriting?

Poor handwriting

Poor handwriting

What can you do to overcome your child’s poor handwriting?

 

Does your child have poor handwriting and is struggling to complete their homework? Does your child take a long time for them to do their homework? Is the quality of the handwriting produced by your child legible? What can you do to improve this situation for your child? Do you want a life that is free from the stress and anxiety of trying to get them to complete their homework? 

 

Definition of poor handwriting:

First off let’s define what poor handwriting is. According to Chivers (1999) – poor handwriting is a deficiency in the ability to write, primarily handwriting, but also coherence. Poor handwriting is a transcription disability, meaning that it is a writing disorder associated with impaired handwriting, orthographic coding (orthography, the storing process of written words and processing the letters in those words), and finger sequencing (the movement of muscles required to write).

 

Causes of poor handwriting

 

The main two causes of poor handwriting are deficiencies in balance sense or body awareness.   

Balance sense

Balance sense
Balance sense

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The balance sense is located in our inner ear.  Children who have experienced any of the following are more likely to have difficulties with their balance sense:

  • chronic ear infections
  • premature birth
  • neglect and trauma in infancy
  • other neurological conditions such as autism

Child jumping

When this sense is not developed properly, children are likely to have difficulty with balance, jumping, hopping, skipping, sitting still, concentration, managing fear or anxiety and learning to read or poor handwriting skills.

 

Body Awareness

body awareness

This sense is located in the muscles and joints all over our body and is often called the body awareness sense as it tells our brain where our body is in relation to itself and other things.

 

Children with poor body awareness often present with the following conditions:

  • appear clumsy
  • are rough
  • break things
  • bump into things
  • unable to sit still for long periods of time
  • poor concentration.
  • difficulty with reading 
  • Poor handwriting skills

 

These two senses (balance and body)  are the building blocks for all other skills. It doesn’t matter how much we practice with our child on handwriting skills, it won’t improve because of deficiency in their balance and body senses.

 

Your child may have a good pencil grasp and lovely letter formation but if they don’t have a functioning balance sense then their writing is likely to be much slower, messy, difficult to read than other children.

How do you improve your child’s poor handwriting skills?

You can improve your child with poor handwriting skills by trying the following:

 

Strengthen Fine Motor Skills

scissors cutting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Increasing hand strength and finger dexterity can help your child get more control over the pen and improve their handwriting.  Encourage your child on tasks like cutting with scissors, using a screwdriver, sewing or knitting.

 

Pencil Grip

Pencil grip
Pencil grip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A good grip could help reduce fatigue and prevent muscle cramps, which may help to improve handwriting.

 

Upper Body strength

 

 

 

 

 

Encourage your child to build upper body strength through sports,  swimming and gym weights. These will help strengthen and stabilise the shoulder muscles to free up the hand muscles for handwriting.

 

Frequent Breaks

Take a break
Take a break

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If your child tires easily or becomes distracted, then let them have a quick break as opposed to continuing on and their handwriting deteriorates. 

 

Pick your battles

Pick your battles

Pick your battles

 

Decide which subjects require good handwriting and which subjects you can get away with poor handwriting. 

 

Typing skills

Typewiz.com – be a wiz at typing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instead of writing out all their homework. Why not get them to type it out using a laptop or tablet? By typing out their homework, it helps not only to be able to read the text they produce but also allows you to review the document and make changes if required. By learning how to type correctly, your child overcomes poor handwriting and uses assistive technology to their advantage. 

If you want your child to learn how to type at one of our centres, you can book a free trial assessment at https://searsol.com/find-centers/

How long does it take to learn to touch type?

How long does it take to learn to touch-type?

It’s a question that we have been asked several times before and to be honest it’s a difficult one to answer.

Definition of Touch Typing:

Touch typing is the ability to type without looking down at the keyboard. A person who can touch-type will know all the letters location on the keyboard through muscle memory. The term is often used to refer to a specific form of touch typing that involves placing the eight fingers in a horizontal row along the middle of the keyboard

Home Keys

Touch typing is a skill that needs to be learned and it becomes better as you practice using the correct technique. The correct technique is to place your fingers on the home keys, left hand fingers should start with the little resting on the A button and the main index finger on the F button on the keyboard. The right-hand fingers should start with the index finger on the J button and the little finger on the semicolon button (;). If you are interested in learning how to touch type, check out our new typing tutor Typewiz which is specifically aimed at teaching children how to touch type in a fun and interactive way. Also, see our youtube video below on How to touch type using Typewiz which explains the correct procedure to learn how to touch type using our typing tutor Typewiz.

 

A range of factors come into play in deciding how long it will take to learn how to touch type.

Factors to consider are the concentration, motivation, age of the student, and if the student has any learning difficulties.

Concentration:

If a student has poor or weak concentration, then it will take them a lot longer to learn how to touch type. As touch typing requires a lot of concentration and persistence in learning where the keys are on the keyboard.

Motivation:

If a student is not motivated to learn touch typing, then, unfortunately, they will never learn how to touch type. If they don’t see the benefits of touch typing and rather do it their own way then a student will never learn to touch type correctly and will revert to their own ways (Hunt and Peck method).

Age:

The younger the student age the longer they will take to learn how to touch type. At Searsol, we believe the best age start to touch type is from the age of eight. We feel any younger than eight years old, a student is just not ready to learn to touch type successfully due to the size of their hands and lack of concentration.

Learning difference:

If a student has a learning difficulty such as dyslexia, dyspraxia (DCD), dysgraphia, then this student will take longer to learn how to touch type compared to a student that doesn’t have these learning difficulties. We feel for these students classroom learning is the best solution for a child that has learning differences. At Searsol, we offer a free trial for students who want to experience our classroom learning. A free trial is available by clicking on the following link (Ireland only). We also offer a free seven-day trial online click on the following link

 

How long does it take to learn how to touch-typing?

So going back to the question, how long does it take to learn to touch type. An average student without learning differences would learn to touch type within eight to ten hours. They might be touch typing at a very slow speed (8 – 15  words per minute).

Bronze standard – 15 words per minute

 

A student who attains 15 words per minute or greater will be rewarded with our bronze badge on Typewiz.  This would take approximately 10 hours to achieve for the average student doing the Typewiz course. 

Silver standard – 25 words per minute

The next level on Typewiz is our silver badge which is 25 words or greater. An average student would need to do around 30 hours on Typewiz to get to this level.

Gold standard – 40 words per minute

Forty words per minute is where a student can touch type faster than they can write which is an amazing achievement! It is the gold standard on Typewiz and for most students very difficult to achieve. It requires a student to put in an additional forty hours of practice using Typwiz. 

If a student achieves the gold badge on Typewiz. Then this is a great advantage to have for a student, as they progress through secondary school, third level and onto work. Typing faster than writing without ever having to look down at the keyboard!

Typewiz.com – a new innovative way to learn how to touch type!

Typewiz online typing tutor for kids

 

Our new typing tutor typewiz.com  is now available to any student that wants to learn how to touch type.

  • Typewiz is a new fun and interactive way to learn to touch type.
  • Students get to select different avatars as they progress up the lessons.
  • Students can earn coins based on their performance on the course.
  • Coins can then be used in our games arcade where each coin spent allows the student to access one game.
  • Students can earn different word-per-minute badges (Bronze, Silver, or Gold) as they become faster at typing.
  • Students can earn lesson badges as they progress up the lessons.
  • Realistic hands with a green finger show the user what keyboard button to press.
  • Graphs of all previous percentage scores with Words Per Minute (WPM) are available to access for the student at all times.
  • Typewiz is a self-paced course that allows students to work at their own pace in a classroom environment or at home.
  • Typewiz is also available through our Searsol centres monitored by our professional Searsol tutors (Ireland only). 

If you are interested in finding out more information about Typewiz. Visit our website at www.typewiz.com  Free seven-day trial available.

 

Why touch typing is beneficial for children with dyspraxia (DCD)?

Why touch typing is beneficial for children with dyspraxia (DCD)?
Why touch typing is beneficial for children with dyspraxia (DCD)?

Why touch typing is beneficial for children with dyspraxia (DCD)?

 

Dyspraxia (DCD) is a difficulty with thinking out, planning, and carrying out sensory/motor tasks. A recent study of nearly 7,000 seven and eight-year-olds in the UK found that just under two children in every 100 may have dyspraxia. This study used strict criteria for diagnosing the condition, which may explain why other sources suggest that six or eight people in every 100 may have dyspraxia.

Dyspraxia is more common in boys and sometimes runs in families. It may also occur alongside other conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD.

Dyspraxia can make the process of writing laborious and even painful. This is why touch typing (keyboarding) is so frequently recommended for those with dyspraxia. Becoming more familiar with the keyboard or learning to touch type (being able to type with multiple fingers without looking at the keyboard) can be very helpful for children.

Once students are able to touch type successfully with accuracy and speed. This can help students unlock their potential and transfer easily their ideas onto electronic format without the frustration experienced when handwriting.  Creativity is unlocked and the student’s self-esteem greatly enhanced.

The keyboard has many important advantages:

  • It increases legibility and clarity of presentation
  • Increased speed of the input
  • Spelling – learning physical letter patterns on the keyboard can be helpful with the spelling of some words
  • Reduces the physical pressure and concentration of handwriting- pressing a key can be much easier than manipulating a pen or pencil
  • Editing work is easier
  • Confidence. The keyboard may allow the child to record work more independently and to produce the required work in the time allowed.

At Searsol, we have worked with children with dyspraxia to teach them how to learn to touch type. Children with dyspraxia need careful guidance and help so they can master the skills of touch typing.  Searsol offers touch typing courses in our typing centres

If your child has dysgraphia and poor handwriting speed, what can you do to help?

Child holding pen with dysgraphia

 

 

 

 

 

 

If your child has dysgraphia and poor handwriting speed, what can you do to help?

According to Amundson (1995), the average typing speed of a child aged 10 is about 10 to 12 words per minute and when that child reaches an age of 14 their writing speed increases to around 16 words per minute. If your child has a learning difference such as dysgraphia their handwriting speed will be significantly slower. Their handwriting can be illegible and difficult to read. Dysgraphia is a nervous system problem that affects the fine motor skills needed to write. It makes it hard for a child to do handwriting homework or classwork. 

As a Parent you will be worried at your child’s slow handwriting speed so what can you do to improve it.  Try these tips to help improve your child’s handwriting skills and make lessons more productive and enjoyable for you and your child.

  • Use a research-based handwriting program. Your child’s teacher may recommend one that suits your child.  
  • Provide short bursts of handwriting exercise instead of long, drawn-out sessions. Many kids with dysgraphia need to work on fine motor skills. Activities such as colouring, cutting, painting, model-building, working with clay, working pencil mazes, and threading beads will increase dexterity and build fine motor skills.
  • Schedule handwriting practice time for 15 minutes a day.
  • If your child can’t remember how to form letters consistently, writing them correctly at times, but incorrectly at other times. This could be a sign that he has problems with your child’s working memory.
  • Work on correct letter formation by using multisensory methods and techniques that don’t require writing. Finger writing in the air, in the sand, in shaving cream, or on sandpaper are all great exercises that can encourage improvement in proper letter formation.

 

If your child’s handwriting speed doesn’t improve within six months using the techniques described above. Then it might be worth looking at introducing technology to assist your child with his / her writing skills. The best way would be to introduce your child to a computer and keyboard and learn how to touch type. Touch typing is being able to type without having to look at keys on the keyboard. 

If you are interested in getting your child to learn how to touch type at any of Searsol educational centres https://searsol.com/find-centers/