the inability to write coherently and a causes trouble with written expression
a cognitive brain-based process issue that is very common
Working memory may play a role in Dysgraphia, as the child may have trouble with Orthographic Coding
Orthographic Coding is the ability to store unfamiliar written words in working memory
Preschool children: May be hesitant to write and draw and may say that they hate to color
School-age children: May have messy handwriting (mix between print and cursive). They also may have trouble writing on a line and may print letters that are uneven in size and height.
Teenagers: May write simple sentences that lack details. Their writing may have many more grammatical mistakes.
What happens with Dysgraphia?
Experts are not sure what causes Dysgraphia, however some believe that one of the two writing processes tends to go off track with individuals with Dysgraphia:
1. Organizing information that is stored in memory
2. Getting words onto paper by handwriting or typing them
Academic: Kids may fall behind in schoolwork because it takes them longer to write. Taking notes is a challenge. May get discourage and avoid writing assignments.
Basic Life Skills: Fine motor skills may be weak. Individuals will find it hard to do everyday tasks.
Social-emotional: Individual may feel frustrated or anxious about school and life challenges. Teachers and others may criticize them and label them as “lazy” or “sloppy”, which may add to their stress. Low self-esteem, frustration and communication problems may make it hard to socialize with other kids.
What conditions are related to Dysgraphia?
Difficulty with reading and also make writing and spelling a challenge
Problems with written and spoken language
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Problems with attention, impulsivity and hyperactivity
A condition that causes poor physical coordination and motor skills which can affect writing and printing
Signs of Dysgraphia
May have difficulty understanding or using language (spoken or written) that make it difficult to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or do math calculations
Has trouble getting ideas down on paper quickly
Has trouble understanding the rules of games
Has a hard time following directions
Loses train of thought
Has trouble with space-discrimination and letter spacing
Has trouble organizing word on the page from left to right
Writes letter that go in all directions, and letters and words that run together on the page
Has a hard time writing on a line and inside margins
Has trouble reading maps, drawing or reproducing a shape
Copies text slowly
Fine Motor Difficulties
Has trouble holding a pencil correctly
Show difficulty tracing, doing puzzles
Has difficulty cutting food and tying shoes
Is unable to use scissors well or to color inside the lines
Holds his wrist, arm, body or paper in an awkward position when writing
Spelling Issues/Handwriting Issues
Has a hard time understanding spelling rules
Has trouble telling if a word is misspelled
Can spell correctly orally by makes spelling errors in writing
Spells words incorrectly and in may different ways
Has trouble using spell-check
Mixes upper- and lowercase letters
Blends printing and cursive
Has trouble reading his own writing
Get a tired or cramped hand when writing
Erases a lot
Grammar and Usage Problems
Does not know how to use punctuation
Overuses commas and mixes up verb tenses
Does not start sentences with capital letter
Does not write in complete sentences but writes in a list format
Writes sentences that “run on forever”
Handwriting tends to be messy
Struggles with spelling
Difficulty putting thoughts on paper, telling a story and may start in the middle
Leaves out important facts and details, or provides too much information
Assumes others know what he is talking about
Uses vague descriptions
Writes jumbled sentences
Never gets to the point
Is better at conveying ideas when speaking rather than writing
Children with expressive language difficulty have a hard time conveying or expressing information in speech, writing, sign language or gesture.
Some children are late in reaching typical language milestones in the first three years, but eventually catch up to their peers. These children are commonly referred to as ‘late-talkers’. Children who continue to have difficulty with verbal expression may be diagnosed with expressive language disorder or another language impairment.
Symptoms of expressive language disorder
Children have difficulties combining words to form accurate phrases and sentences. For example, a child may not use the correct form of the verb tense (they might say ‘I goed’ when they mean ‘I went’) or they might omit important grammatical words (they might say ‘I going’ when they mean ‘I am going’).
They typically produce much shorter phrases and sentences than other children of the same age, and their vocabulary (the number of words they know and use) is smaller and more basic.
Children with expressive language disorder are usually below the average level for their age in:
putting words and sentences together to express thoughts and ideas
using language appropriately in a variety of settings with different people (for example, at home, in school, with parents and teachers).
Common symptoms include:
making grammatical errors
leaving out words and using poor or incomplete sentence structure (for example, ‘He going work’ instead of ‘He’s going to work’ and ‘I talk’ instead of ‘I can talk’)
using noticeably fewer words and sentences than children of a similar age
frequently having trouble finding the right words
using non-specific vocabulary such as ‘this’ or ‘thing’
using the wrong words in sentences or confusing meaning in sentences
relying on standard phrases and limited content in speech
sounding hesitant when attempting to converse
repeating (or ‘echoing’) a speaker’s words
being unable to come to the point, or talking ‘in circles’
having problems with retelling a story or relaying information in an organized or cohesive way
Receptive language refers to the ability to understand or comprehend language heard or read.
What is Receptive Language Difficulty?
When an individual has difficulties with understanding what is heard or read.
Most children with language comprehension usually begin before the age of four years old.
The cause of Receptive Language Difficulty is unknown, but could be a number of factors working in combination, such as:
child’s exposure to language
general developmental and cognitive abilities
Receptive Language Difficulty can often be associated with developmental disorders (Autism or Down Syndrome), brain injury (trauma), tumor or disease. Some children may just have difficulty with reception of language and this may be the only developmental problem they experience.
Symptoms of Receptive Language Disorder?
Not seeming to listen when they are spoken to
Appearing to lack interest when storybooks are read to them
Inability to understand complicated sentences
Inability to follow verbal instructions
Parroting words or phrases of things that are said to them (echolalia)
Language skills below the expected level for their age
May show difficulty organizing their thoughts
Taking a long time to respond to a question
Naming a general category instead of a specific word (ex. Saying “food” instead of “cake”)
Being quick to say “I don’t know” in response to a question
Having difficulty understanding humor or idioms
How will SILVA Clinic treat your child?
Use visual support to supplement auditorily presented information
By using strategies such as visualizing
Increase sustained effort by dong activities without distraction and hold effort long enough to get the task done
Pair in social groups to provide engagement in reciprocal interactions with others (verbally or non-verbally) to:
compromise with others
improve eye contact
be able to recognize and follow social norms
Understand idioms, figurative language or humor
Present new information in a multi-modality and context-rich environment to tap into the other senses
Allow more “thinking time” to prevent unnecessary pressure during moments of difficulty
Encourage your child to request repetition or help, rather than simply saying “I don’t know”
Improve ability to understand and respond appropriately to questions
Develop understanding of important and key concepts
Selective mutism (formerly known as elective mutism) usually happens during childhood. A child with selective mutism does not speak in certain situations, like at school, but speaks at other times, like at home or with friends. Selective mutism often starts before a child is 5 years old. It is usually first noticed when the child starts school.
What are some signs or symptoms of selective mutism?
Consistent failure to speak in specific social situations (in which there is an expectation for speaking, such as at school) despite speaking in other situations.
Not speaking interferes with school or work, or with social communication
Lasts at least 1 month (not limited to the first month of school).
Failure to speak is not due to a lack of knowledge of, or comfort, with the spoken language required in the social situation
Not due to a communication disorder (e.g., stuttering). It does not occur exclusively during the course of autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia, or other psychotic disorder
May also show:
Anxiety disorder (e.g., social phobia)
Fear of social embarrassment
Social isolation and withdrawal
Treatment program may include the following:
Stimulus fading: involve the child in a relaxed situation with someone they talk to freely, and then very gradually introduce a new person into the room
Shaping: use a structured approach to reinforce all efforts by the child to communicate, (e.g., gestures, mouthing or whispering) until audible speech is achieved
Self-modeling technique: have child watch videotapes of himself or herself performing the desired behavior (e.g. communicating effectively at home) to facilitate self-confidence and carry over this behavior into the classroom or setting where mutism occurs
If specific speech and language problems exist, the SLP will:
Target problems that are making the mute behavior worse;
Use role-play activities to help the child gain confidence speaking to different listeners in a variety of settings; and
Help those children who do not speak because they feel their voice “sounds funny”
What other organizations have information on selective mutism?
This list is not exhaustive, and inclusion does not imply endorsement of the organization or the content of the Web site by ASHA.
NYU Child Study Center
Selective Mutism Foundation
Selective Mutism and Childhood Anxiety Disorders Group
When there is a dysfunction in the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into responses. Whether you are eating chicken nuggets, sitting in class listening to the teacher or coloring with a crayon, the successful completion of the activity requires processing sensation or sensory feedback.
Signs of SPD
Difficulty staying in line
Hugging too tightly
Sensitive to touch
Aversion to foods with certain textures
Won’t wear clothes that feel hard or too long or too tight
Has a meltdown at parties or lunchroom
Walks on toes
Not reacting to someone calling him because he may have not processed it
What can you do to help?
Break tasks down
Use visuals such as calendars and lists for bedtime routines
Use timer for commands he must meet
Apply appropriate consequences
Supply a fidget bin to keep the child busy if he needs to be moving or aroused
Have the child move before requiring the completion of a task
Use sensory strategies to help arouse or calm the nervous system
A deficit in working memory is a common feature of some learning disabilities and developmental disorders including dyslexia, ADHD, reading & mathematical difficulties, and specific language impairments.
What is Working Memory?
Working memory is active and a “mental workspace” for temporarily storing and managing the information used to plan thoughts/actions, comprehend reading and math problems, and use current information in our everyday lives.
Working memory impairment can present in an inability to complete daily activities and difficulty staying on task.
Signs of Working Memory Deficit
Difficulties completing tasks that require a large amount of information
Difficulty starting and following tasks with a complex set of directions
Inattentive behavior due to losing their place during a task
A tendency to lose track of belongings
What parts of learning does a Working Memory Deficit affect?
A deficit in working memory impacts:
Following directions to successfully complete a task
Difficulty remembering incoming instruction information while trying to access how to actually do what is being asked
Being able to recognize words in sentences is difficult when visual working memory is impaired
Maintaining numeral information and accessing the necessary operation for the math problem is difficult, leaving children with less information to work with
How will Silva Clinic treat your child?
Improve working memory function by:
Presenting information in a variety of ways: show it, speak it, physically work with it
Transferring information into other real-life situations
Increasing information comprehension and retention
Tips to Boost Working Memory
Teach Visualizing Skills. Encourage your child to create a picture of what he’s just read or heard.
Have the Child Become the Teacher. Being able to explain how to do something involves making sense of information and mentally filing it.
Suggest Games that Involve Visual Memory. Give your child a magazine page and ask him to circle all instances of the word “the” or the letter “a” in one minute [you can increase the difficulty of a word, depending on the child’s age and magazine topic].
Play Card Games. Simple card games like Crazy Eights, Speed, Uno, Go Fish and War improve working memory in two ways. Your child has to keep the rules of the game in mind, but also has to remember what cards he has and which ones other people have played.
Make Up Category Game. When words and ideas are put into categories, they’re easier to remember. Play a game in which you name as many animals [category] as you can think. One person begins by naming the first animal, then take turns naming the animals in the same exact order said by each person.
Number Your Directions. Beginning a sentence with words like “I need you to do three things…”. This can help your child keep all of the different points in his head by numbering them by steps. You can do the same thing with other information, too, like shopping lists (”We need to buy these five items…”).
Connect Emotion to Information. Processing information in as many ways as possible can help your child remember it. Help him connect feelings to what he’s trying to remember.
Help Make Connections. Connections are the relationship between things. Finding ways to connect what your child is trying to remember with things he already knows can help him learn the new material.