Guide Writing Disabilities: How to Teach Basic Writing Skills

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For students to improve their English writing skills they need to practice as often as possible , learn how to type so they can write quickly on a computer, and be introduced to strategies that will help them develop their skills. While no two children with dyslexia will have exactly the same symptoms, the dyslexic child often struggles to cultivate reading and writing skills. If they have a hard time learning to read, vocabulary will be impacted, which makes writing more difficult.

Spelling can also cause interference when it comes to getting ideas on paper. This is another reason why using spell-checkers is important. For some children and adults, the act of handwriting is actually physically painful or can cause mental strain.

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Learn more about helping kids who experience writing difficulties because of dysgraphia. Similar to the handwriting difficulties experienced by children with dysgraphia, dyspraxia has to do with difficulties with fine motor skills. This can make holding a pen or pencil difficult. Brainstorming ideas in charts and filling out outlines can help these kids.

Kids with slow processing speed will need longer to process writing prompts and may have a particularly hard time getting started on a draft. Parents and teachers can help by going over the task instructions several times, giving children an opportunity to talk about the topic in order to generate ideas, and then allowing them as much time as they need to write. Neatness and spelling may not always be a high priority for these kids as the assignment itself is so mentally taxing they will be exhausted when it comes time to revise.


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These children may struggle to focus attention on the prompt or how the idea they are working on relates to the larger text. It can be helpful to give them an opportunity to get up from their seat from time to time and move around the room or stretch. Many kids are successful writing in their heads, that is working out their thoughts before sitting down to record them. Computers and touch-typing Kids can start learning how to type at the age of 6 or 7, when their hands fit comfortably on a keyboard.

Taking a touch-typing course is a must for the child who is learning to write on a computer. Touch-typing speeds up writing, allowing a child to write at the same pace as he or she is thinking. It can be a great way to encourage kids to do more writing outside of school, as it takes less time to write a brief email to a relative or compose a comment on social media.

It helps children who struggle with learning difficulties too. They can avoid handwriting tasks and improve their spelling skills, as muscle memory in the hands automatizes the writing of high frequency words. Finding the right touch-typing course is key. Touch-type Read and Spell takes a multi-sensory and modular approach that allows each child to work through the course at a pace that is right for him or her. Learn more. Hearing the words, seeing them on a screen and then learning to write them also improves sound-letter mapping and can have a positive impact on reading skills.

View the discussion thread. Maria used to type with two-fingers, slowly and often inaccurately.

Messy Handwriting

Now she types faster, with fewer errors, more competently and professionally. This has boosted her confidence in the workplace tremendously. She now recognises individual sounds in words much better, due to the auditory aspect of the multi-sensory approach in TTRS. Her vocabulary has noticeably improved and she has found she can explain things and express herself more clearly in English after completing the course.

At Bolton College we offer the TTRS course to self-study adult learners who have returned to education to improve their spelling, increase their familiarity with technology, and use word processors. In contrast, Touch-type Read and Spell provides a rewarding and positive experience for them when it comes to spelling. Did you now touch-typing can help individuals with learning difficulties develop stronger spelling, reading and writing skills? How important are writing skills? Writing is how a child shows what he or she knows and what has been learned. Most of this research concentrates on the reading and comprehension of words and sentences.

We next discuss research on writing and the component skills and processes of writing that challenge those with writing disabilities. Part two presents neurocognitive research on the development of brain structures and functions associated with some of the cognitive and linguistic processes that underlie reading disabilities.

We discuss the future implications of this research for adult literacy assessment and instruction and the importance of interdisciplinary research for a better understanding of learning disabilities, specifically, the ways in which genetic, neurobiological, behavioral, and environmental forces interact to affect the typical and atypical development of reading and writing skills. Because neurocognitive research on writing disabilities is in the early stages, we focus mainly on the larger body of research on reading.

Part three describes accommodations to facilitate learning for those with learning disabilities. The chapter. The findings presented here are relevant to instructors of colleges or adult basic and secondary education programs.

Judith Hochman Basic Writing Skills - John Cardinal O’Connor School - Irvington, NY

Yet it is important to recognize that learning disabilities also are a condition defined by legal criteria in the United States, criteria to which secondary and postsecondary institutions must adhere in providing services for students with learning disabilities. The college students identified with learning disabilities who have participated in research have met this legal criterion. In addition, access for accommodating individuals with learning disabilities on standardized tests and instructional settings requires documentation that these legal criteria have been met.

As a result, the findings reported in this chapter may be most relevant to adults with similar characteristics. More research of the kind described is needed to characterize a broader range of adults. Learning disabilities is an umbrella term that encompasses several types of developmental disorders evident as difficulties in learning specific academic or language skills, typically reading, mathematics, oral language communication, writing, and motor performance e.

Learning disabilities have been historically difficult to define in part because they are not a unitary or homogeneous disorder and in part because they have been defined through exclusionary rather than inclusionary criteria. The rationale for an exclusionary definition remains relevant today. The diagnosis of learning disabilities is reserved for individuals with unexpected academic underachievement that cannot be attributed to known causes, such as sensory disorders, general intellectual disability, significant emotional or behavioral disorders, poverty, language differences, or inadequate instruction Fletcher et al.

It is important to note that consensus on an evidence-based definition of learning disability has not yet been reached. There is much debate on how to improve definitions and legal criterion setting for the diagnosis and remediation of learning disability.

Further research is needed to arrive at an evidence-based definition to guide research and practice. Learning disabilities in adulthood by definition describe individuals as developmentally disordered in learning in comparison to age-expected performance and appropriate instructional opportunities. A diagnosis requires evidence that an individual is substantially limited in major life activities e. If learning disabilities are not diagnosed before adulthood, however, it may be difficult to establish that the individual had access to sufficient high-quality instruction.

Adults can experience a range of learning disabilities that are important to diagnose and attend to as part of literacy instruction. Although better information is needed about the number of adults in literacy programs with learning disabilities, over one-quarter of adults who attend adult education programs report having a learning disability Tamassia et al. The prevalence of learning disabilities for the college-bound population is reported to be approximately 3 to 5 percent of student enrollment National Center for Education Statistics, ; Wagner et al.

Due to variability in eligibility criteria, the adult population with learning disabilities represents a very heterogeneous group of individuals in terms of severity, ability, and background. Many individuals with learning disabilities do not have access to opportunities to develop and demonstrate their knowledge, with unsettling consequences for their career development and adult income Gregg, ; Rojewski and Gregg, A total of 14 million undergraduates are enrolled in 2- and 4-year colleges in the United States, and the number is expected to reach 16 million by Among the U.

Recent research findings, however, have a greater focus on other approaches such as response to intervention or differentiated diagnoses based on learning over time Burns, Appleton, and Stehouwer, ; Fletcher, Denton, and Francis, ; Fuchs and Fuchs, There is growing agreement among some researchers that a hybrid model of identification is necessary to the definition of learning disabilities, which includes three criteria: 1 inadequate response to appropriate quality instruction; 2 poor achievement in reading, mathematics, or written expression; and 3 evidence that other factors are not the primary cause of poor achievement Bradley, Danielson, and Hallahan, ; Fletcher et al.


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At present, however, there is not conclusive evidence or consensus on any one diagnostic approach to identifying learning disabilities. These figures are substantially lower than those for college-bound students without disabilities. The greatest growth in postsecondary attendance by students with learning disabilities is experienced at 2-year colleges Wagner et al. Outcome data pertaining to secondary and postsecondary populations with learning disabilities raise concerns about the equity and quality of educational opportunities for these individuals National Council on Disability, ; Wagner et al.

Adolescents with learning disabilities are more likely to experience substandard postsecondary outcomes compared with their nondisabled peers, as evidenced by high secondary retention and dropout rates Gregg, ; Newman et al. Several factors that contribute to the negative career outcomes of adolescents and adults with learning disabilities include lower self-esteem and greater susceptibility to the negative impact of socioeconomic background on academic achievement Wagner et al.

How important are writing skills?

Although behavioral tests are used for assessment and diagnosis, learning disabilities have come to be viewed as brain-based conditions with a pathogenesis that involves hereditary genetic factors. In recent years, research on assessment and treatment of learning disabilities has become a magnet for the application of new techniques and paradigms from genetics, basic neuroscience, cognitive science, and cognitive neuroscience.

Research to date suggests that it is plausible to assume that the malfunctioning of the brain system that supports reading and its development may be caused by multiple deficiencies in the corresponding genetic machinery that guides early brain development Grigorenko, Although understanding the genetic and neurobiological mechanisms that underlie learning difficulties is important to a full and adequate definition of learning disabilities, research on gene-brain-environment interactions is required to understand the complex sets of factors that make learning a challenge for many individuals.

Some percent of students with learning disabilities are reported to exhibit significant difficulty with reading Kavale and Reese, ; Lerner, ; Lyon et al. The term reading disability is often used interchangeably with the terms dyslexia, reading disorder , and learning disabilities in reading.

Adults with reading disabilities experience lower. High school students with diagnosed learning disabilities have lower literacy levels than students without disabilities National Assessment of Educational Progress, Longitudinal research has shown the persistence of a diagnosed reading disability into adulthood and behavioral and biological validation of the lack of reading fluency in adults with dyslexia across the life span Bruck, , , ; Shaywitz, ; Swanson and Hsieh, As discussed in Chapter 3 , there is no consensus on the estimated numbers of adult learners who may have such a reading disability.

The estimates range from one-tenth to more than half Patterson, In a national survey of adult education programs, 89 percent reported providing services to at least one adult with learning disabilities, although most 62 percent relied on self-reports. Because only 34 percent of programs reported screening for learning disabilities, it is likely that many adults may have gone unrecognized as having a learning disability, especially older students. A significant number of college students with learning disabilities demonstrate reading underachievement as a result of their disabilities, influencing both their school and work outcomes Bruck, ; Gregg, ; Gregg et al.

According to data from the National Longitudinal Transitional Study-2, over 50 percent of secondary students performed below the 16th percentile on reading comprehension measures, placing them at the lower 25th percent of the general population Wagner et al. These students experience various difficulties with the cognitive and linguistic processes involved in decoding, word identification, reading fluency, and reading comprehension.

The importance of phonological, orthographic, and morphemic awareness to decoding and accurate word identification has been well documented.

Help Students With Dyslexia and Dysgraphia Improve Writing Skills

The persistence of phonological, orthographic, and morphemic awareness deficits has been repeatedly documented Bruck, ; Gregg et al. However, in the absence of valid diagnostic tools normed on the adult. Orthographic awareness is the visual recognition of letter forms and spelling patterns within words. Morphological awareness is the recognition of morphemes the smallest meaning units in language and knowledge of word derivations create, creation, creative, creator.

Professionals must retain a healthy degree of skepticism that the inferences drawn from cognitive, oral language, and achievement test batteries are equivalent across populations with and without disabilities until measures are validated for individuals with disabilities Gregg, Studies of college students with reading disabilities dyslexia have demonstrated that phonological knowledge predicts skill in decoding Bruck, ; Gregg et al.

As a group, these students over-rely on spelling-sound information, syllabic information, and context for word recognition. Orthographic awareness e. Yet researchers provide strong evidence that orthographic awareness significantly influences the ability to decode words Cunningham and Stanovich, ; Kim, Taft, and Davis, ; Stanovich and West, Empirical verification supports that orthographic processing is a separate latent construct from phonological processing in the adult population Carr and Posner, ; Eviatar, Ganayim, and Ibrahim, ; Gregg et al.

Some college students with reading disabilities dyslexia demonstrate problems with both phonemic and orthographic awareness. Such readers may accurately represent the sounds in target words that have direct sound-symbol correspondence e. Proficiency with phonological, orthographic, and semantic knowledge is essential to learning morphemes Carlisle, Much research documents the association between morphological awareness and word reading Carlisle, , ; Carlisle and Stone, ; Nagy et al.