Looking for therapist for dysgraphia

Hi all

My daughter has a diagnosis of dysgraphia which isn't getting any better, and is becoming a bigger problem as she's required to write more for school. The only recommendations I've gotten is to request typing instead, which many times isn't an option.  (and typing isn't easy for her either, so still incredibly slow).  I'd like for her be able to improve her handwriting at least to the point that writing even a sentence isn't a giant painful chore.  Has anyone had an occupational therapist treat their children for dysgraphia with success?

Parent Replies

New responses are no longer being accepted.

You don't say her age. Our son (now 14) has dysgraphia, and in the myriad of other issues he has experienced over the years, it got overlooked and he wasn't evaluated for it until it was basically too late - 5th or 6th grade. The great OT he had told us that ideally you want to catch it and work on it very early, like K/1st. Also (FYI) we have been told that dysgraphia is usually not going to appear in an IEP, meaning the school district won't provide therapeutic services for it, because it can always be accommodated (via a 504) by switching to keyboarding. Which is basically where we ended up - again, there were other issues in play for my son - and he had to quickly become his own advocate and remind teachers certain assignments that were supposed to be handwritten needed to be modified for his plan's accommodation. Finally, in my anecdotal experience, dysgraphia is not a stand-alone condition but rather appears in a constellation with other conditions where it is more like a co-morbid than the root cause.

My son has this and was dx in 5th - too late to make a real impact. It’s still a problem. 2 things helped - 1. They can be taught cursive - not by you, by a trained handwriting therapist. 2 Typing. He did an online program for 10-15 mins every day, a free one, and was rewarded with M&Ms or something. It was a lifesaver. He did it all spring and all summer and typed 35 wpm by 6th. Now he’s a junior in HS and it saves him. He can get an accommodation for most tests and assignments. Your child will also get time accommodations. Do not hesitate! My son is required to write all day every day at this age. He types faster than I do. His brain is fast so this makes him much less frustrated. Get your child typing right now. I thank god every day for the wise teacher who told us to do this. 

My son was diagnosed about half a year ago at age 10. I have yet to find any organized therapy for how to support him, most of what I have been told run along the lines of "Just type and use spell check." I wish I could tell you how to find help, but it was hard enough finding someone who believed he had a learning disability, and to put a name to it. Also, yes typing is very helpful but my son still needed to write neatly, for example, using worksheets that are not online, or in math, so he needed help with his handwriting.The best advice I've gotten was to get him nice fat pencils or hand grip adjusters, and to find those workbooks called "Handwriting without tears". They are for preschoolers and Kindergarteners, My son had to fill out those workbooks and to take care doing it very slowly and nicely. It was like learning to write again from scratch, and after just a month of practice, his handwriting got SO MUCH BETTER. I was also advised to beef up his phonics still in the same way, with a kindergarten program called "Hooked on Phonics", but that system was so juvenile he refused to do it. 

My son was diagnosed with dyslexia and dysgraphia and a bunch of other stuff when he was 7.  He's in his twenties now so I can offer a bit of the long view.  I must start by telling you that writing a complete sentence by hand is still a huge chore for him, and his signature looks like a child's, BUT he is a functioning adult with a college degree and a real job.  Here are some things we did:

We had him evaluated by Alan Siegel, a neuropsychologist in Berkeley, when he was seven and again when he was a teenager.  With his diagnosis he got extra time on tests, including standardized tests.  Maybe it's less of an issue if things like the SAT are on a computer now, but this was really important in the days of filling in the bubble.

We took him to occupational therapy with Gail Gordon, who had an office in Orinda.  I don't know if she's still practicing but she was lovely. She had him do hand-strengthening exercises with TheraPutty and squeeze balls, and gave him a special pencil grip.  

We got the Handwriting Without Tears workbooks and had him work through those.  He didn't love doing it but even he admitted that the results were noticeable.  

We got a typing program designed for dyslexics -- I can't remember the name of it but the Center for Accessible Technology in Berkeley has typing classes and might also have advice on at-home programs suitable for dysgraphics.  We let our son play more computer games than we might have otherwise because they got him typing -- this was super effective and I have no regrets!  

We hired a tutor with a degree in speech/language pathology to work with him at school a couple of times a week through elementary school, either in the classroom or pulling him out, in coordination with his teachers (this was at a private school).

We got Dragon Naturally Speaking, a dictation program, when it was much more primitive than it is now.  It was very buggy and he didn't love it but we pushed him to get used to it.  Dictation software is light years better than it was and he uses it all the time now.

The most intensive support we gave was that for years and years I sat with him while he did homework and had him dictate to me while I typed.  I did not understand when he was seven how involved I was going to be and for how many years.  I hadn't initially understood that dysgraphia isn't just about handwriting, but can also affect their ability to get words out of their head and on to paper, and then to organize their thoughts into a coherent format.  Middle and high school essays involved him walking around the dining room table dictating his ideas and me typing, and then spreading printed pages out on the table and looking for the thread, and then literally cutting and pasting and filling in the gaps. I was very careful not to suggest ideas or phrasing, but to just ask a lot of questions and point out where something needed to be explained more fully or where he needed a transition. For a while there I was really wondering what my exit plan was! But he gradually needed less and less support, and by the time he went to college he wasn't even letting me proofread anymore.  It was a long journey, and I had to really revise my understanding of my parental role and get with the program, but now I'm glad I didn't withdraw support too soon.