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A Closer Look Into Dysgraphia In Relation to Autism

Andrea Moreno

This condition is one of many disorders that are often seen in people who have autism. A recent study was published on the prevalence of dysgraphia amongst 1,034 students of all ages with ADHD or autism. During this study, participants completed the Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration (VMI) and Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC). The results indicated that 59% had this condition. Researchers concluded that it is common at all ages in children and adolescents with ADHD and autism.
Dysgraphia is a condition affecting handwriting. It is a brain-based issue, which makes the process of writing much slower, and often results in impaired letter writing , processing written words and affects the movement of muscles that are required to write.
 
It is usually detected around the time a child learns how to write, but can sometimes remain hidden until adulthood. Those diagnosed will also sometimes struggle with other fine motor skills such as buttoning, tying, using scissors and more, but this isn’t always the case. An estimated 4 percent of adolescents suffer from this condition. A few symptoms include: trouble with letter spacing, organizing words onto a page left to right, writes letters in all directions or words that run together, has a hard time writing on a line, has trouble holding a pencil correctly, unable to use scissors well, struggles getting ideas onto paper, has issues with spelling or avoids writing altogether. Experts are not sure what exactly causes this condition, but early treatment can help prevent or reduce problems.
There are three different types of dysgraphia: dyslexic, motor and spatial. In the form of dyslexic, spelling is very poor. Often times, writing is illegible in this case. Motor, strongly affects hand coordination and nearly all forms of writing are illegible. Although drawing and tracing skills are below average for this person, spelling skills are usually normal. Lastly, spatial, most strongly affects all forms of handwriting and drawing. 
A specialist is able to detect and evaluate a child's writing ability to determine whether this condition is the culprit. Testing for this condition can help determine the cause of your child's difficulties. Testing can include issues with the mechanics of writing, the ability to organize narrative and fine motor skills. If a child is diagnosed with this condition, the next step is to meet with the school to request additional services and support. Both children and adults are likely to see benefits from working with occupational therapists on things such as forming letters and numbers, movements your child makes using their hands and other forms of writing. Technology may also be helpful such as keyboarding, word processing and/or speech recognition software. 
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