You’ve heard of dyslexia, so you know that sometimes people struggle to learn to read. But did you know that some children and adults develop learning disorders related to writing? If you have a hard time communicating via writing, you might have disorder of written expression.
People with written expression learning disorders often excel in other aspects of their life, like mathematics and science, which can make them question if they really do have a learning disorder. It’s common for students with this disorder to experience low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness and frustration at school.
Having a learning disorder isn’t your fault — and you’re not alone in your struggle to succeed. If you or your child has a written expression learning disorder, the professionals at NeuroHealth Arlington Heights can diagnose the condition and develop a helpful treatment plan.
What Are Written Expression Learning Disorders?
Image via Flickr by Nilufer Gadgieva
A person with a written expression disorder may have trouble expressing himself or herself in writing. This specific condition is also referred to as dysgraphia. Children and adults who have a written expression learning disorder might have a hard time understanding how written letters and words convey meaning. They might often write the wrong word or confuse letters that look similar, like q and p.
It is important to know that there has been some disagreement on the terminology between “written expression learning disorders” and “dysgraphia.” While dysgraphia is typically considered the umbrella term for all writing challenge disorders, it can also be used particularly referring to the more technical writing issues. On the other hand, a disorder of written expression can be used to refer specifically to conceptual writing issues, such as having trouble organizing one’s thoughts and expressing them.
It is important to know that some psychologists and physicians do make these distinctions between the terms, so be sure to clarify what they mean if they mention either of these terms so you can effectively manage solutions.
Written Expression Learning Disorders in Adults
Dysgraphia usually affects elementary school-aged children who are just learning to read and write. However, it can also affect teenagers and adults.
In fact, many adults — including college students — are living undiagnosed. They have likely developed ways to cope with their writing difficulties so they can remain productive in a school or work environment. For example, some adults may primarily focus on typing or using talk-to-text features. Others may take pictures of presentations instead of taking notes or record lectures to listen to later.
Full-time workers in their careers may opt to hire a secretarial position to take notes for them or an assistant to fill out paperwork. Regardless, these individuals are much more likely to suffer anxiety from having to write for a task than actually accomplishing the task itself.
How Can I Help Someone With a Written Expression Learning Disorder?
People who have written expression learning disorders often worry that their inability to write is their own fault. In reality, though, written expression learning disorders are simply a reflection of your brain’s chemistry. Here are some ways to help your student, friend, or loved one cope with written expression learning disorders as an adult:
- Help them become comfortable with technology/typing on a computer. It’s a lot easier to tap a button than to form a full letter with pen-in-hand. Computers make writing easier, quicker, and all-around more efficient. And in today’s world, it’s more common to see a laptop in a classroom and a workplace than a pen and paper. Typing helps those who struggle with dysgraphia focus on their content and thought process rather than the anxiety of having to focus on the mechanics of forming letters and words. We suggest focusing on typing for at least ten minutes a day.
- Allow them to explore pen and paper accommodations. There are certain measures that adults with dysgraphia can take to enable them to be more productive when it comes to writing by hand. For example, if they write on graph paper, they can see how their letters take up space more clearly. Another example is adding grips to pencils or pens.
- Help them get organized. Getting organized mentally can help improve the writing process. For example, utilizing “mind maps” or getting a planner is a great start.
- Reassure them that nobody has a perfect first try. There has never been a writer that has published a novel without making edits after the first draft. By adopting a “drafts” mindset, people who struggle with dysgraphia can better grasp the concepts they’re trying to convey and the physical motion of putting those thoughts on paper.
- Make time to help them practice writing. By making time to write daily, they can consistently improve in both literacy skills and cognitive writing abilities. We suggest focusing on one project at a time and writing for only about 30 minutes. Once they’ve finished, they can go back and see what needs to be edited or worked on.
- Get in touch with an expert at NeuroHealth. Learning disorders can be treated, and they aren’t a measure of someone’s intellect or drive to succeed. With training and treatment, your loved one can learn to manage the disorder and excel in school or at work. A specialist will diagnose your loved one based on a neuropsychological assessment. Post-diagnosis, we will come up with a personalized treatment plan that caters to their individual needs.
How Do We Treat Written Expression Learning Disorders?
We’ll work with schools to ensure your child’s learning disorder is accommodated based on his or her treatment. For instance, your child might need to write on a computer at school instead of on paper, or your child might need to write shorter essays or answer differently worded questions on tests. If your child is older, he or she may need college accommodations. Elsewhere, we have discussed possible accommodations for college students struggling with learning disorders.
Get in Touch With NeuroHealth Today
You don’t need to feel anxious or worried about your learning disorder. Instead, you can work with a professional to treat your disorder and achieve a high quality of life. NeuroHealth serves Arlington Heights and the surrounding communities including Palatine, Des Plaines, Mt Prospect, Schaumburg, Buffalo Grove, and more. Call NeuroHealth at (847) 584-1671, or fill out our contact form, to schedule a written expression learning disorder diagnostic test today.