Now more than ever, writing is a vital part of our daily lives. If your child struggles with writing, he or she may have difficulty now in school and also later on in life. Neil MacGregor, VP of Learner Development for WordQ+SpeakQ, battled his own learning disability as a child. He shares tips to recognize if your child has a writing disability.
If you total up all the time we spend writing assignments and reports, combined with the time we spend online on social media, e-mail, and smart phones, it becomes very clear that now more than ever, writing is a vital part of our daily lives.
But writing isn't a natural skill for everyone. Many mental and physical processes need to work in perfect harmony. Any difficulty can be a bottle neck to the process, and negatively affect the finished product. Kids who struggle with writing may feel embarrassed, upset, or discouraged. It can affect their schoolwork, their social interactions, and their confidence.
While there are many different possible causes for writing difficulties, there are a few common symptoms to look for. Once you assess if your child is struggling, you can take the necessary steps to help him or her.
Common Symptoms of Children Struggling With Writing
1. A disconnect (between knowledge and ability to write about it).
They can talk about and otherwise demonstrate what they know, but it doesn't get expressed in their writing. Students lose grade points due to their writing, not their subject knowledge. They can lose face and suffer embarrassment, and it undermines their capability.
2. Writing is unreasonably slow and careful.
Two to three sentences are written in the time that others can write 20 to 30. They know the answer, but it never gets fully expressed because there isn't enough time. Or, they spend lots of time writing and rewriting a single sentence, striving for perfection. They try to cram a paragraph of meaning into a single sentence.
3. They can only write for short periods of time before they seem to get distracted.
For some individuals it can take a huge amount of mental effort and concentration to spell, read, or write. It’s no wonder they need frequent breaks, but from the outside they seem easily distracted.
4. They avoid writing.
Procrastination and avoidance is rarely a result of mere laziness. This can be a symptom of how it may be unreasonably hard and challenging, given the results. It is not surprising they dread it, and try to find easier and more gratifying things to do.
5. They unknowingly leave spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes.
It is possible they are reading what they think is on the page, not what is actually there. Most of us don't read every single letter. We read in 'chunks', i.e., entire words and groups of words: This increases speed, saving time and mental energy. This is even more common when reading their own work, because they think they know what is there. Unfortunately, they sometimes presume to see letters and words that aren't actually there.
It’s important to remember that these problems have little or nothing to do with ability or understanding subject material. Most strugglers are waiting for a means through which their creativity can be unleashed. Once you notice your child's struggle, you can held them take the steps to do just that and encourage good writing skills for your child.
Neil MacGregor is the VP of Learner Development for WordQ+SpeakQ breakthrough assistive software and has been battling his own learning disabilities since childhood.