After each of the four specific learning disabilities is defined, evidence-based treatment that includes handwriting instruction will be described: (a) teaching strategy for forming legible, automatic letters involving the mind’s eye for Dysgraphia; (b) applying handwriting to facilitating perception of letters in read words and to forming connections between phonemes and graphemes, spoken and written rimes, and spoken and written syllables in word spelling for Dyslexia; (c) applying handwriting to sentence construction by unscrambling words in sentence anagrams and choosing content and function words for OWL LD (oral and written language learning disability); and (d) teaching strategies for forming numerals, writing math facts based on counting along mental and multi-sensory number lines, placing numerals in rows and columns and moving through time and space during calculations, expressing place value, and writing numerator and denominator of fractions for Dyscalculia. In addition, inclusion of handwriting in multi-level written language instruction for typical writers will be discussed.
Students with specific learning differences, including dyslexia and dysgraphia, often struggle with handwriting and written expression. Educators and Occupational Therapists are essential team members in addressing the foundational skills needed to write. Recognizing the difference between missed learning and SLD is critical. Likewise, identifying the underlying barriers to writing is necessary.
Handwriting is a complex and multi-system skill. It does not come naturally as do other skills, but it has to be explicitly taught like reading. Recently handwriting, both print and cursive, have been demoted or even removed from school curricula. Referrals to OT in school-based practice are for handwriting concerns most of the time. However, many OTs and educators are not trained to explicitly instruct or remediate handwriting in children with specific learning disabilities, such as dyslexia and dysgraphia. This presentation uses the research to create a foundational approach to addressing dysgraphia and other handwriting difficulties. Using a foundational approach based on best practice in science, the student's barriers to writing are recognized and addressed. Three types of intervention will be discussed from the research, as well as what intervention should look like and how it should be designed. Parents, educators, and administrators will gain insight into helping these children express themselves through written form which leads to better academic outcomes and self-efficacy.
This session will review the building blocks of the visual system, including visual gathering and visual processing skills, that lay the foundation for visual motor integration and more specifically, handwriting. The session will describe how Optometrists, Occupational Therapists and Educators can work together to help children improve their handwriting skills and achieve their educational goals.
Handwriting is a learned skill; sufficient instruction and practice is needed before it can be used as an effective tool of communication (Graham 2019). Handwriting requires that writers possess content to share, language to convey the information, and adequate control over a tool to transfer the message (Graham, 2019). Handwriting instruction was studied extensively over the last several decades (e.g., Cole, 2023; Dobbie and Askov, 1995; Graham 2015; Graham and Weintraub, 1996; Pulido and Pascale, 2022). Direct and structured teaching was found to be the best way to train students (Santangelo and Graham 2015). Although many different programs are available, handwriting instruction continues to be uneven in schools; some schools support the development of this skill very efficiently, while others do not (Graham, 2019; Morgan et al., 2021).
This presentation will review research exploring the effectiveness of handwriting instructional programs and common factors facilitating skill development, as ascertained by the different researchers (e.g., Cahill and Beisber, 2020; Grajo et al., 2020; Hoy et al., 2011). The presentation will reiterate the importance of collaboration between all professionals involved in creating competent writers, from classroom teachers and occupational therapy providers to school administrators and teacher training university programs. Crucial environmental aspects promoting handwriting development will be emphasized such that schools can make meaningful decisions on selecting the tools to establish successful writers.
A growing body of research continues to indicate that handwriting instruction and handwriting skill impacts students' overall literacy development. Evidence from current brain research shows that children recognize letters more efficiently after printing practice versus tracing or locating letters on a keyboard. (James) The handwriting learning method requires the writer to perform a movement that completely defines the shape of the letter to build an internal model of the character. Current writing research supports the premise that fluency in handwriting enables students to produce more text and higher quality of text (Berninger, 1999; Graham, 2010). Just as phonics is a foundational skill for reading comprehension, handwriting serves as the foundation for written composition. However, for many teachers handwriting instruction has fallen by the wayside. There are many reasons for this decline, including a lack of resources and/or time for instruction; lack of experience or prior knowledge; and even a lack of confidence in their own handwriting skill. Teachers who lack confidence in their handwriting instructional ability often turn for support to school-based occupational therapists (Case Smith, 2012). In this session we intend to show how a collaborative team approach between school-based occupational therapists and primary teachers can facilitate literacy development for all learners.