Dysgraphia Accommodations

By Nancy Winans

See also:
How can Parents Help with Learning Challenges?
Ways to Demonstrate What You Have Learned

Thanks to members of various yahoo groups and homeschool parents who gave some of these suggestions!

For Writing / Written Work / Handwriting:

*Have someone enlarge (blow-up) worksheets, so that they are easier to see.  Or make 2 copies of a math sheet.  ‘White-out’ half of the math problems on one sheet and then white out half on the other, to give more room.  OR cut out the problems on the sheet and tape onto a larger piece of paper with extra space between each problem.

*Have an aide or parent re-copy problems onto a large-square piece of graph paper.  Or turn lined paper sideways to use as a grid for written math problems.

*Use wipe off templates (put a printed template into a clear plastic sleeve to write on) or have student fill-in printed templates or graphic organizers (such as the 5 w’s chart or 5 senses chart) for ease of organization

*If the student wants to have something in their own handwriting, try having them dictate to you, then you dictate back to them as they write. If they make mistakes, you can ‘white them out’ and write over it and then make a copy of that, which will not show any of the mistakes/erasures.

*find math computer programs where the student can type in answers.  Take online classes where answers can be typed.  I found a civics curriculum online with questions to be answered by the student, which I downloaded and then pasted into a document, where I then made extra spaces between the questions so the student could directly type the answers in.  If the teacher is typing any materials on her computer, like a powerpoint or outline, have her send you the file so you can download it onto the computer and then type your notes directly into it from your laptop.  My son did this for a biology class.

*Make a tape recording or record any dictations onto the computer.  Or use Dragonspeak or other voice recognition software which actually types what is said.  (For example, your student could use Apple’s ‘Garageband’ to record responses for a history reading log.)

*Use assistive technology (from IPADs and laptops, as well as note-taking devices like the ‘smart pens’ and tape recorders) to take notes, as well as programs such as Kidspiration for the organization of writing, and word-prediction and correction programs like Word Q to help as the writer types.

NOTE: Kids with dysgraphia should not be given much of their work in worksheets.  They should have other ways to demonstrate what they know.  {See Ways to Demonstrate What You Have Learned } They can make a diorama, chart, map, picture dictionary, collage, videotape, skit or puppet show, photo album, oral report, or many other ways of presenting their information.  This can be written into your child’s 504 or IEP.  Examples: make a Geometry book by photographing ZOME geometry block creations, make two comparative maps of the history of colonization by using InDesign software, make a slide show of a trip to the aquarium, create a Powerpoint with text and images (from the web or your own photos) on the circulatory system.

Finally, nothing beats using a computer for all written work.

Here’s how to ease into it. Here’s a path that you can do at home, or at school with a 504 or IEP – taking years to work through each of these steps, if needed.  Work at one step until ready to move on to the next step.

1.  Have child dictate all stories, reports, and math problems to parent or aide.  Child can still do some writing on own (journal, short thank you notes, etc.) and of course any actual handwriting exercises you do.

2.  When ready (or for some portion of work) have the child dictate to you, and then you either right afterward (or next work time) dictate back to him/her.  Tell the child exactly what they need to write: “new sentence, so make a capital letter ‘M’ for Many, and then write people (spelling is p-e-o-p-l-e) …like animals…(end of sentence so put a period.)  Or if your child has started to type, have him/her type as you dictate.

3.  After their typing is adequate, and they have more understanding of punctuation, you can still have the child dictate to you, and you dictate back, but instead of spelling everything, you can just say “beginning of sentence… The wolves were howling at the moon” …end of sentence” as cues to remember the capitals and periods.”  Don’t make them correct misspellings or forgotten punctuation yet.

4.  Do as in number 3, but then add the editing step.  You will go over the paper and circle what is wrong, and write down what it should be changed to.  You can skip this step and just circle what’s wrong, having the child determine the correction and re-type it correctly, if you think they are ready.

5.  Have your child say his sentences out loud to him/herself (rather than dictating to you) and then type them.  Do editing as in #4.

6.  Have your child type up his/her work as he/she composes it.  (Or use an outline or other graphic to help organize thoughts first.)  You can edit for the child, or circle and have him/her edit.

7.  Have your child compose and type, then go back over their work and circle his/her own mistakes.  Try having him/her read through first for overall composition (does it make sense?) then go sentence by sentence to check for capitals and periods or other endings, then touch and look at each word to check spelling (it is important that they don’t try to ‘read’ it but just look at the word to see if it is spelled correctly.)  You can also allow them to just use spell check.  It is actually a good way to learn spelling – by seeing the correct way!

8.  Finally, your child can compose, type, and edit for composition, grammar, and spelling, but they may need to have a proof-reader (even into college) if they really have trouble noticing errors.  The child can know all the rules of punctuation and grammar but still not ‘see’ the mistakes – their brain reads them as ‘correct’ because of the psychological phenomenon of ‘closure.’  They may never be able to perfectly edit a paper.  Luckily, students with dysgraphia can receive help in college, with note-takers, proof-readers, and use of word processor for tests and note-taking.