NLP for Dealing with Dysgraphia

Filed Under (UnLearning Difficulties With NLP) on 30-03-2010

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A woman once contacted me asking for help with recommending schools in her area that would be suitable for her 9 years-young grandson who had been diagnosed with severe dysgraphia. I felt inspired to relay here exactly what I advised her to help the many more (grand)parents who want the best for their severely diagnosed children.  I hope you’ll extract and put the value from this into action, and spread the word to those in need!

As soon as someone has been diagnosed the following happens: the word diagnosis spurs the thinking that the diagnosed person is ill or has something wrong with them and that’s the way it must stay forever and everyone else must work around it, but not with it.  Then the content of the diagnosis [in this case severe dysgraphia] provides another psychological label.  The danger of labels is that they pervade the diagnosed person’s identity and provide a handy excuse [to the diagnosed person AND all people around the diagnosed person] for not questioning the condition and thus not taking action.  Once we’re labeled being x, we have an instant explanation for many things and can continue living smugly.
Don’t let this happen; dysgraphia is also one of those “conditions” that can be improved.  Here’s how:

1. Don’t mention the labels in front of the child – this will prevent him/her from taking it to his/her identity and being debilitated for the rest of his/her life.  Don’t let the labels block his/her drive to take action to eradicate the condition.

2. People who have writing difficulties often believe that there’s something wrong with their brains or the motor functioning of their arms / hands.  This is a BELIEF which can be eradicated.  Taking action instead of letting yourself hide behind diagnostic labels will eventually prove the belief invalid / ridiculous.

3. Train the person to use the visual skills s/he has.  People with literacy-related learning difficulties are immensely visual!

EXERCISE 1: Ask the person to imagine his/her fridge at home, what color the door is, which way it opens, open it, look into the fridge and tell you 3 things s/he can see.  S/he’ll tell you not only that, but also where in the fridge the 3 things are.  And with amazing passion and accuracy!  Have fun with this!

EXERCISE 2: Ask him/her to tell you about his/her fave sports team: what colors the players wear, what their shirts look like, where their names and player numbers are located, etc.  You’ll see how much detail s/he’ll report!  If s/he’s a fan of a different activity, go with what s/he is familiar with.  I mention sport as an example to show you the principle.  These 2 exercises will prove to you that his/her visual skills are EXCELLENT!

EXERCISE 3: Ask him/her to choose one nearby object, e.g. a cup, and stare at it for 15 seconds, then close the eyes.  When the eyes are closed, ask him/her to describe how much of the cup s/he can see in the imagination.  S/he’ll see some.  Then repeat the process and listen to how much more of the cup s/he’ll report seeing the second time.  Do this process several times a day for several weeks with a different object each time.  Make it a fun game.  This will sharpen his/her observational skills and memory.

4. Now we’ve established that the person’s visual skills are fully operational. We are at a stage where s/he has been practising the 3 exercises for several weeks and his/her observational skills will be much sharper.  Now give him/her one object, e.g. the cup, to draw with the eyes [= to follow the shape of the cup with the eyes as if drawing it in the imagination] as s/he looks at it.  Once s/he can do it, ask him/her to draw it on paper.  If s/he can, you’ve laid foundations for successful writing.  If s/he can’t, draw a very simple shape (e.g. a triangle) on paper, turn the page upside down, and ask him/her to copy it line by line.  Encourage him/her to take his/her time. S/he’ll do it – very successfully!

5. Once s/he manages to copy the cup or star to a satisfactory stage [this may take a few attempts, but stick with it and give him/her time], you’re ready to give him/her numbers to copy in exactly the same way: write the number on a paper and turn it upside down.  Let him/her copy it line by line.  Numbers are simpler than letters, so once s/he manages numbers, s/he’ll be ready for letters.  Start with CAPITAL LETTERS, because they’re more distinctive than lower case letters.

6. Once s/he can copy anything you give him/her, s/he’ll be able to write numbers and letters in groups of 2, 3, and 4 as well as word syllables.

7. And words will follow easily.

8. VERY IMPORTANT POINT: When starting to draw anything on paper, put it on the wall up to or slightly above the person’s eye level.  S/he’ll then process it in the visual field.  NEVER let him/her write while holding the paper in the lap or near the groin, because you’d be keeping him/her in the feelings which will probably be negative [e.g. “I can’t write”, “I’m terrible at writing”, or “I hate writing”].  Always take him/her out of the feelings [the lap] and up to the visual field [his/her eye level].
It pays to invest in large paper sheets designed for sticking on flipcharts.  They look like huge postit notes and can be stuck on a wall without marking it.

Contact me for more help with dealing with dysgraphia with NLP.

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