Thursday, 8 November 2012

Scruffy writing/ Dysgraphia

Scruffy writing/ Dysgraphia

My work is based on assisting around 12000 undergraduates and FE students who have mainly, but not all, been labelled as Dyslexic.  Very large numbers of these have difficulties in writing, some with very extreme difficulties to the point that writing is almost painful and disorientating.

In some ways paradoxically, many of these students have actually been accomplished artists with fine motor control in graphical tasks.

There appears to often be a problem of hand /eye coordination difficulties when writing.
I shall summarise these ‘symptoms’.
1.       Very large writing
2.       Writing drifting off line.
3.       ‘Disorientation’ or even nausea during writing.
4.       Very untidy writing as if there is a battle to control the hand when writing often associated with aching wrists or fore arm. Giving rise to or associated with a reading /writing stamina problem.

These all appear to be associated with difficulties in ‘seeing’ what is being written on the page and sort of competition between the eyes in ‘attention’ as you write.
Most also have a relatively low reading speed. Often less than 160 words per minute (the average number of photographs/fixations a person’s eyes take per minute’ or /and a need to subvocalise or even vocalise when reading.

Using an eye tracker, measuring and recording eye movements during reading/writing supports this visual component model for many people.

What I and my colleagues do is to optimise the visual target to maximise reading performance, this appears to then reduce or even eliminate the writing difficulties as well.

This is not ‘training’ it is a bit like fitting the task to person. But it does take analysis and time.
When completed we are be able to measure /audit benefit, as with any intervention.

Of course there can only be benefit if visual data is limiting the writing process. If the limiting factor is something else then no benefit would occur!   It usually gives rise to significant benefit which challenges models which ignore the visual.  Of course it could be that there is a misunderstanding within other models, where the developers of the models do not really understand the way that the visual system works.

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