How to Help a Dyslexic Child with Writing

Did you know that dyslexia can affect more than just reading and spelling? If you've ever worked with a child with dyslexia, you might have sat there cringing or gritting your teeth when sloppy letters emerged, words were slanted and off the lines, and a simple sentence couldn't be constructed.


Of course, that stress and discord only makes matters worse! Kids with dyslexia are like little sponges - they seem to absorb your feelings, and when you're stressed, they're stressed!

But if you take a deep breath, back up a step or two, and look at things from a different angle, you'll see that the dyslexic child is already working at capacity! You also have to look at all the foundational skills that affect writing.




Often, there's a crossover between dyslexia and dysgraphia. Dysgraphia, is in essence, a writing dyslexia. The label doesn't matter. What does matter is how you work with the child. There needs to be a three-prong approach you take to fill in the foundation of the poor writer's skillset.


First, make sure that motor skills are in place. Most parents and teachers overlook this simple step. All too often, kids with dyslexia have avoided skills that require fine motor abilities such as tying shoes, coloring pictures, or putting puzzles together. And yes, video games can help with eye/hand coordination, but the skillset is different from those needed in strengthening hand muscles for writing.


So, be sure your child's hand muscles are strong and that the program you use has this component in it. If not, then you're wasting your time. These skills need put in place, and there is definitely a hierarchy to learning!


Next, spatial skills need to be strong. This is what caused the dyslexic writer to run handwriting off lines and spread outside of margins. This is also where the writer has a difficult time forming letters correctly. If the writer can't perceive the images correctly, then he can't write them.


And, finally, the processing portion of the brain must be advanced enough to put coherent, organized thoughts onto the paper or computer. This is often the most difficult skill to put into place, and of course, it needs to be broken into smaller components for the writer to succeed.


Of course, words need to happen first, then sentences. From there, a five-point paragraph is taught with a topic sentence, three detail sentences, and a concluding sentence. If your learner is having a difficult time thinking of something to write about, give her a picture and have her write about what she "sees". This takes one step out of the equation.


See...it's not that hard helping the dyslexic child write. Like any skill, it just needs broken down into smaller, micro-skills that can be built back up to make a strong writing foundation!



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