Before discussing tools that can help, let’s have a look at what dysgraphia actually is. Kids with dysgraphia will generally have unclear and inconsistent handwriting. They also tend to write or copy things very slowly which makes it very hard to complete handwriting tasks. Kids with dysgraphia aren’t lazy or unintelligent. They simply struggle with written expression; basically, the hands can’t keep up with the brain.
Some of the more common signs include:
- Cramped grip, which will tire the hand quickly and could become sore
- Inconsistent letter and word spacing
- Poor spelling, missing words or letters
- Poor spatial awareness on paper
- Unusual wrist, body, or paper position while writing
- Difficulty with writing and thinking at the same time. As a result, creative writing tasks can often be difficult.
We’re always looking for new ways to help Ella work with and around dysgraphia. There are a number of tools and apps available that have made a real difference along the way. I’ve listed my favourites below.
One of the most valuable tools Ella has at her disposal is text-to-speech. This enables her to carry out tasks on the computer/devices such as playing music, carrying out searches and writing messages. On phones and tablets, there is usually a microphone icon next to the spacebar on the device’s keyboard. Text-to-speech can be used with Google, Microsoft Word, Notes and a number of other programs to assist with writing.
Evernote (older kids)
Evernote is a great tool for older kids as they start to need to write more. Students can take notes across multiple devices that are all synced. Voice memos can be converted to text and the simple interface allows for easy organisation for all notes. Note formats include lists, images, text, audio and other media. Highlighting, different fonts and colour-coding are also useful tools for organisation. There is both a free and paid-premium version available.
Grammarly helps students to spot grammatical and spelling errors that they might not have otherwise picked up. Kids with dysgraphia have to focus so hard on the actual mechanics of writing that it’s difficult to self-edit. Once a child can type proficiently, Grammarly will become indispensable. As with Evernote, there is a free and premium version available.
Ghotit is a one-stop-shop for all students who suffer from dysgraphia (and dyslexia). With reading, writing and editing tools to help with all areas of learning. It has been designed to allow reading and writing independence for adults and children and has a wealth of resources.
This is an app that turns paper worksheets digital simply by taking a photo of the worksheet. Once the photo has uploaded, answers can be added on the device. Once finished, the worksheet can be printed out.
Typing can be difficult to master for anyone with dysgraphia, but once they can type, written assignments and note-taking will become much easier. We started Ella on a paid touch-typing course (ttrs) but have since moved across to a free resource by the BBC, Dance Mat. This is much more fun and a good introduction to touch typing.
OFFLINE TOOLS FOR DYSGRAPHIA:
A pencil grip fits over the pencil to position the thumb, index and middle finger correctly. Holding the pencil correctly helps kids to write neater and quicker without hand muscles tiring so quickly. There are however many different types of grips available so before rushing out to buy any, check what the specific issue is. You’ll find a short tutorial on pencil grips here
Writing on a slanted surface helps with the physical act of writing by allowing the wrist to exte4nd while fingers flex into a better writing position. The link below is a good option or you could simply use a large ring binder turned sideways.
Raised paper has a rough surface along the lines to help children stay within the lines and to guide letter size.
The writing area below the dotted line is highlighted to indicate how tall the lowercase letters should be. The paper comes in a range of different colours. It’s also possible to print off your own using one of the many free downloads online.
A graphic organiser is essentially a visual way for students to brainstorm and break down projects into smaller sections listing the key points. There are many templates available with a quick search on Google or you could simply draw your own. They can be a flow chart, Venn diagram word web or and in fact any design you like.
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