Misunderstanding minds

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Difficulties with Writing

What Can Inhibit Writing Development?

Like all learning problems, difficulties in writing can be devastating to a child’s education and self-esteem. As children progress through school, they are increasingly expected to express what they know about many different subjects through writing. If a child fails to develop certain basic skills, he will be unable to write with the speed and fluency required to excel as these demands increase. Indeed, for a child struggling with a writing problem, the writing process itself interferes with learning. Students faced with such difficult odds have trouble staying motivated.

Writing problems rarely occur in isolation, and improvements in writing go hand in hand with the development of other non-writing-specific skills. Thus, a problem with the development in one of these areas is likely to interfere with a child’s progress as a writer.

In his book Developmental Variation and Learning Disorders, Dr. Mel Levine identifies the following neurodevelopmental problems and their potential impacts on writing.

Attention Problem

Children who struggle with attention may be inattentive and impulsive. An attention problem may manifest itself as:

◦       difficulty getting started on writing assignments

◦       easy distractibility during writing tasks

◦       mental fatigue or tiredness while writing

◦       inconsistent legibility in writing

◦       uneven writing tempo

◦       many careless errors

◦       poorly planned papers and reports

Spatial Ordering Problem

Children who struggle with spatial ordering have decreased awareness regarding the spatial arrangement of letters, words, or sentences on a page. A spatial ordering problem may manifest itself in a child’s writing as:

◦       poor use of lines on the paper

◦       organizational problems

◦       uneven spacing between letters

◦       many misspelled words

Sequential Ordering Problem

Children who struggle with sequential ordering have difficulty putting or maintaining letters, processes, or ideas in order. A sequential ordering problem may manifest itself in a child’s writing as:

◦       poor letter formation

◦       transposed letters and spelling omissions

◦       poor narrative sequencing

◦       lack of transitions

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