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Bad handwriting or dysgraphia?

Updated: Nov 25, 2022

Dysgraphia (from other Greek δυσ - a prefix with a negative meaning, γράφω - “I write”) is a violation of writing that is not associated with intelligence. People with dysgraphia may not have a lack of intelligence and their development may be correct in all other respects. (Wikipedia)

“The problem with handwriting has two components: the lack of specific skills and the reason why these skills have not been developed” - Ronald D Davies.

According to Davis' theory, there are seven causes for dysgraphia.

1 brain damage

2 disease or handicap

3 intentionally bad handwriting (from not knowing the correct spelling of a word)

4 Poor teaching or lack of teaching

5 disorientation

6 numerous mental images

7 inadequate natural orientation (dyspraxia)

The Davis method helps to deal with the last four reasons.

Poor teaching or lack of teaching

Such a funny reason, at first glance: the child goes to school, they didn’t teach him to write letters there?

In fact, this is a fairly common problem: many children, due to the fact that they are daydreamy, simply don't listen the teacher's instructions! And it turns out that they simply do not know how to write letters, where to start, how letters are connected, or how they are arranged on a line. When they come to the program, the first thing they learn is how to control their attention. And then, when they are able to perceive information, they look for the things what causes confusion and figure out how to write letters.


Disorientation is a switch of attention to the inner, imaginary world. Then the outside world is not perceived adequately.

This is especially evident when a child is asked to compose and write a story. For example, one 10 years old boy was in the top of the class (almost an excellent student). He wrote beautifully spelling tests, in good handwriting. But as soon as he was told to write an essay, he could not write more than a paragraph. The lines ran away, the pressure on the pen increased significantly. At some point, he stopped writing - physically he could no longer .. He was so absorbed in his inner world that he could not act in our physical world. In other words, he wrote while his mind was something else.

He and I came up with an algorithm: first, he comes up with an idea, then he forms a sentence. Then focuses, then writes. Then we move on to the second sentence: again we catch the idea by the tail, again we form the sentence. He focuses again and writes down again ... Important: all this is possible with the ability to control your attention! In my presence, the boy wrote a whole page of text, he was very pleased with himself! For 6 school years, the handwriting caused terrible confusion, he blamed himself, considered himself lazy, did not understand what was going wrong. The next week, right after the end of the program, he brought a certificate from school for being able to write two pages of essay in class ...

Dysgraphia due to disorientation can also be caused by specific hand movements when writing letters. Usually emotional baggage is involved. The movement of the hand or the very shape of the letter, part of the letter, resembles something very unpleasant. Something might have happened when the child wrote that letter. For example, some strong fear. And the fear was fixed in the way of writing a particular letter. And it became a trigger for disorientation, so potentially words with this letter will weaken attention until it is completely turned off.

During the Davis correction programs, we always eliminate all causes for disorientation. To make the writing process easy and not energy-intensive. As for the most people.

Numerous mental images

Imagine the following situation: a child is learning how to write a letter and the teacher shows how to write this letter. He really liked the letter. He remembered it well and created a mental image of the letter. Everything is fine, but after a few days, to repeat, the teacher writes this letter again. And then again and again, on other days. And each time the letter is a little different: maybe its slant is slightly changed, maybe the tail is not so long... And the child creates and creates a mental images of this letter and superimposes one on the other... As a result, he has a numerous mental image, as if the letter had been written a hundred times in one place, each time with a little change. It turns out something similar to a bird's nest: many, many sticks and lines in one place. What causes serious confusion for the child: it is already impossible to determine what the original image was.

The Davis method can help to get rid of all these unnecessary images, and if the child wants, he can, of course, keep to himself the only one ideal image of written letter. But this is optional.

Inadequate natural orientation (dyspraxia).

The person may have problems with general coordination. Often such a person is clumsy, may experience various difficulties when walking, playing sports, tying shoelaces. Difficulties with performing any movements that require accuracy and dexterity. Also, usually such people do not have a sense of right and left, it is difficult for them to cross the line of the middle of the body, it can be very difficult to scratch the left leg with the right hand .... Also, with this type of dysgraphia, there may be difficulties with impaired speech and with the expression of thought, with the pronunciation of sounds. General clumsiness. When writing, child can turn the notebook 90 ° and hold it not horizontally, but vertically! The letters turn out to be crooked, symmetrical letters can cause particular difficulties: A M W. All this happens due to the fact that a person does not have an inadequate natural orientation and literally does not see the world as other people see it. His natural focus is not developed in the same way as in ordinary people.

Using the tools of self-control of attention (orientation) during the correction program, a person learns how he can focus in a different way. Gradually he begins to develop this new state of focus (orientation). And only then exercises are introduced in order for him to determine what symmetry is, to find this symmetry in letters .... For him, this is a completely new, stunning experience! A person just literally begins to see the world in a different way! Completely different!...

Dysgraphia caused by dyspraxia is quite a rare case.

Summing up all of the above, we can say that the Davis method helps with symptoms of dysgraphia. As a result of working with the causes of problem symptoms, the symptoms do not appear any more, and handwriting improves, becomes more readable and less energy-intensive.

Dyspraxia itself is quite rare. It usually accompanies either dyslexia, or Attention Deficit Disorder, or Autism Spectrum Disorder. And in order to get rid of the problems associated with handwriting, special exercises are included into the main correction program.

Elena Nikulina

© Copyright 2022

Elena Nikulina, licensed DDAI (Davis Dyslexia Association International) facilitator for correction of dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, dyspraxia, Attention Deficit Disorder with or without Hypo / Hyperactivity, and other problems in learning according to the author's method of Ronald Davis, licensed facilitator RDAF (Ronald Davis Autism Foundation ) for the help people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Director of Dyslexia Correction and Support Centre, London, UK.

For more information about dyslexia, ADD, and other learning problems, see Ronald Davis books "The Gift of Dyslexia", "The Gift of Learning" and "Autism and the Seeds of Change: Achieving Full Participation in Life through the Davis Autism Approachby Abigail Marshall (Author), Ronald Dell Davis (Author).

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