Monday, January 15, 2007

Dysgraphia vs Written Output Disorder

I am trying to ascertain what the difference is between dysgraphia and written output disorder.

If you have any insights or thoughts please leave a comment.



Brent Maxwell said...

I don't know anything about Written Output Disorder, but I was diagnosed with dysgraphia when I was 13. I hope that my background may shed some light on the dysgraphic side for you.
I had been identified as gifted, yet continually underperformed with written assignments. My handwriting was extremely poor. Once a week for two years I went to school early to work on my handwriting with one of my teachers, yet my handwriting did not improve.
While I struggled with written communication, I excelled at verbal communication. I had no difficulty in forming and communicating complex ideas, including supporting details. The physical act of writing was the only difficulty I had with communication. Writing was not only difficult, it physically hurt.
Around 5th or 6th grade, the popularity of home computers began to increase. I began to type more of my take-home writing assignments, and it soon became evident to my teachers and my mother (who was also a teacher) that my typed work was significantly better than my handwritten work.
In 7th grade, an educational psychologist identified the potential of a "written expression disorder." I completed two diagnostic essays: one handwritten, one typed. The score on the handwritten essay showed a significant departure from my composite WISC score. The score of the typed essay was significantly higher, and within the expected range.This led to a diagnosis of dysgraphia and the creation of an individualized education plan, providing for the use of a computer to type in-class assignments.
Unfortunately, I continued to struggle through high school, facing a multitude of teachers who didn't understand how a gifted student could have a learning disability. The stress that I experienced, compounded by ADD, led my mom to question if I would ever graduate.
I am proud to say that I am now 25 years old, and will receive my master's degree in May.

pumps said...

Thanks a million for detailing your experience with dysgraphia --it's very valuable to hear about it. I'm certain it will help and interest many of the readers of this blog as they attempt to learn more and understand their own or their children's struggles and help facilitate their success.
Congratulations on your masters degree.
I think there is beginning to be more understanding of the combination of being gifted with a learning disability or output challenge etc, but there's a long way to go yet.
It would be interesting to hear more about any other strategies that helped you aside from the main computer one. Did you struggle with spelling or sequencing for example? Also what strategies have helped you manage your ADD? Was your choice of course of study in any way influenced by the challenges you faced?
Much appreciated and wishing you continued success.

Brent Maxwell said...

Spelling was a HUGE problem for me. My IEP specified that I was to have a spell-checker available when using the computer. Given the nature of word processors, that was no problem.
The only other accommodation that I received was the use of peer note-takers.
As far as ADD goes, I'm still working with it. Medication has helped somewhat, but not entirely. I often try to find something simple to do with my hands when I need to pay attention, in order to "distract" my ADD. For example, I often keep a piece of cord in my pocket, and I tie knots when I find it difficult to pay attention.
I've also found that having a separate place to do homework helps me to focus. At times, I've even had to have a different place in the library for each class!
At the beginning, my choice of studies were influenced by the challenges I faced. I originally studied computer science. I had enjoyed learning about computers since elementary school (probably due to the fact that they helped me), and I unfortunately got bored. For a time, I was a history education major, so that I could be in a position to help students like me. Surprisingly, I ended up receiving my bachelor's degree in a writing intensive field, Political Science, and I am currently studying International Affairs.
I guess that as high school grew farther and farther away, so did the problems. The computerized world of today has made things much easier for me. I have yet to ask for any accommodations in college.

pumps said...

Thanks Brent. These are very helpful tips and insights especially the piece of cord and the knot tying.

I understand that chewing can also help concentration. I discovered this when my child was learning to type.