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Information on Dyslexia

Dyslexia and developmental coordination disorder go hand in hand at times. As an OT I focus on several different aspects to help children or students with these conditions.   

Handwriting is a struggle for children with Dyslexia and developmental coordination disorder. Reversals are common, especially with lowercase letters. When addressing these skill deficits, we usually spend time in the beginning writing the alphabet (upper and lower) not from a model – from memory. If they need help, I often write the letter with my finger on their backs, instead of giving them a visual model, in order for them to process how to form the letter. Writing letters large, such as on an easel before going to paper can be helpful as well. 

A good trick for the b and d reversal (which is very common) is forming the word “bed” with the left and right hands – the left thumb curling around to form the b and the right one to form the d. Students have a quick visual model of how to write this word correctly, and this helps for them to write these letters correctly.  

Recognizing reversals (having the student choose between a correct letter formation and a reversed one, circling the reversed letter) is important.  

The importance of visual scanning from left to right should not be overlooked. OT’s can easily work on this skill by having the student read underlined letters from left to right.

Also doing grid activities such as this one with colored screws is helpful (cue the student to scan from left to right to do the activity correctly). 

Don’t forget the importance of prone extension and proximal strengthening. These two components are often weak. Bal a Vis X is an excellent program to work on with these students.  Cursive is a great way to help with visual-spatial skills and often improves print writing! The goal in teaching cursive is not to have them be proficient in cursive but rather to improve handwriting altogether.   

Melanie McAlister, OTR/L