Tests for dysgraphia

Written by m. alanna white
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Tests for dysgraphia
Does your child have dysgraphia? (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Daniel Zanini H.)

Dysgraphia is a neurological handwriting disability. Sufferers of dysgraphia have difficulty in writing words properly; they process words that are seen and heard in an altered way. This condition causes them to write words with letters in incorrect order, writing the words backwards--as is the case for dyslexics--and in most cases have illegible handwriting.

There are different tests in various areas that result in a diagnosis of dygraphia. These areas include intelligence testing, working memory, writing and spelling skills, phonological awareness tests and retrieval fluency measures.

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Intelligence Tests

The Wechsler Intelligence Scale is given to children between ages 6 and 16 during the determination process of diagnosing dysgraphia. This test is administered as a set of 10 tests with five subtests that include verbal and performance IQ, verbal comprehension and processing speed.

The Cognitive Assessment System includes a test that measures a child's cognitive processing ability. These including simulating actions of the test administrator and elaborating on planning techniques involved in small processes, such as stacking blocks.

Working Memory

Woodcock-Johnson III achievement tests include a set of oral tests constructed of spelling, math and reading tests. This test set evaluates specific cognitive functions in that it identifies both the child's inabilities and strengths within these three subjects.

The Wide Range Assessment of Memory and Learning test is administered throughout the entire school system, beginning in kindergarten and concluding when the student is a senior in high school. It is a continual process that measures the rates in which the child is learning and retaining information.

Writing and Spelling Skills

The Wechsler Individual Achievement Test is also administered throughout a child's academic career. However, with respect to dysgraphia, this test allows for written answers and, in some cases, essays. This allows administrators and teachers to evaluate whether the child displays dysgraphic handwriting, or in the case of those already diagnosed, it evaluates progress made over the child's school years. The Woodcock-Johnson III series also covers this same material.

Phonological Awareness Tests

Phonological awareness tests include C-Topp, Word Attack and Phonological Processing. These tests evaluate interpretations made by the child in response to spoken words, flashcards and, in some cases, objects. The key to evaluating children with dysgraphia is that spoken words are often misinterpreted when repeated by the child. When asked to write the name of the chosen media, the child often does so incorrectly or in the wrong order.

Retrieval Fluency Measures

Retrieval fluency measures include tests such as NEPSY, Expressive Code and Sentence Sense and Controlled Oral Word Association Tests. These are administered by asking the child to identify a flashcard or object. They are also asked to create sentence structures. With children who have dysgraphia, their sentence structures often do not make sense, as words are incorrectly placed and some are misspelled.

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