Dysgraphia is defined in clinical terms as a disturbance of, or difficulty with, orthographic-motor integration (i.e. handwriting). In its purest form, it is a difficulty with handwriting, but dysgraphic students often find language processing very difficult. The classic presentation is of a student who is highly verbally articulate and may be very engaged in classroom learning, but simultaneously unwilling and unable to communicate their thoughts in written form. Students who fit the dysgraphic profile have difficulty producing work to time, and despite in many cases exhibiting a genuine desire to learn, frequently get bogged down, concentrating too hard on what may come easily to peers.
Schools in Hong Kong struggle to support students with dysgraphia because the contours of the disorder are broader than dyslexia. Dysgraphic students may have excellent reading skills and read above grade level by several years. Yet their understanding of even the basic conventions of written language (e.g. capital letters and full-stops) lags substantially behind their peers. This can often have detrimental emotional impacts for students as it is too easy for parents and teachers to assume the errors are attributable to carelessness or laziness which creates a positive feedback loop of underachievement and disengagement. To add complication, dysgraphia often displays alongside other learning differences (e.g. poor working memory or weaker executive function) which creates difficulty for the seemingly disorganized child who is cognitively unable to manage their pencil case, school bag or timetable.
BartyED’s dysgraphia tutors have a deep understanding of the psycho-educational, physical, emotional and fine-motor control issues which face students with this learning profile. Our individualised mentoring programmes allow dispirited students to reset the emotional thermostat and engage in their learning in a way they would not have considered previously. Tutors break down the cognitive process and provide the individualized support that dysgraphic students so crucially need. Dysgraphia is not an insurmountable academic challenge: as with other diagnosed learning differences, BartyED’s mentors provide the tools and methodology to allow dysgraphic students to manage, and eventually overcome, their limitations.