Updated: Sep 7, 2020
We're listening to Ice-T today and going back to research done in the early 1900s...
While problems with handwriting are a common way that both children and adults are recognized to have dysgraphia, there can be much more beyond the physical act of writing. Many of those who have learning differences "in written expression" also struggle with language skills like word formation and spelling.
For people with dyslexia (learning differences in reading), it is highly recommended that they learn reading skills using an Orton-Gillingham approach. Similarly, it's being recognized that the same skills and language processing that can be developed using this approach is also helpful for those with dysgraphia to help with spelling and word formation skills.
So what exactly is it? It's an approach based on seminal research by Dr.
Samuel T. Orton and educator Anna Gillingham. The "approach" part is key. It's not a specific curriculum, it's a foundation of how to teach that should be individualized to each student. The Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators says that the approach is:
diagnostic and prescriptive
structured, sequential, and cumulative
cognitive, flexible, and dynamic
In plain language, teaching should be tailored to each student's needs. Different people have different strengths and weaknesses in language processing and this should be taken into account. Students should learn the structure and rules of the language that they may not have picked up naturally (word formation and spelling rules vs instead of focusing on sight words/common words). Lessons should teach from the smallest types of sounds (single letters) and move up to syllables and larger parts of words - and practice and repetition is key. It should involve multi-sensory teaching - touch as well as listening and looking.
We encourage you to look into this type of approach, particularly for kids who are still developing their language skills. There are tutors who specialize in Orton-Gillingham or try to have it included in an IEP. We will continue to add more content on this topic but since it's fundamentally individualized, one-on-one or small group instruction works best!
What OG curriculums or resources have you tried? Let us know in the comments below!