Kids Who Have Difficulty Spelling Can Have Trouble Writing As Well

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Sonia Kandel PhD
Professor at the GIPSA-Lab
Université Grenoble Alpes 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: How do we recall a word’s spelling from memory? How do we execute the movements to produce letters? A series of studies conducted by Professor Sonia Kandel at the GIPSA-Lab/University of Grenoble Alpes in France provide evidence indicating that writing is a linguistic process that affects the way we execute the manual movements when we write. For example, the movements involved in writing T-H-R are easier to execute in a word that is pronounced as it is spelled, (e.g. “thrill”) than in a word that is orthographically irregular (e.g. “through”). What happens with writing when spelling processes are impaired like, in dyslexia and dysgraphia?

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

The French word “cuvette” written by a French-speaking child with dyslexia. The child had serious difficulties with the double “t” in this word. Black lines show what the child actually wrote on the page; grey lines, recorded by the tablet, show in-air movements when the child paused. Blue squares indicate that the child lifted his or her head to look at the spelling of the word on the computer screen. Credit: © Sonia Kandel for GIPSA-Lab, CNRS/Université Grenoble Alpes/Grenoble INP

The French word “cuvette” written by a French-speaking child with dyslexia. The child had serious difficulties with the double “t” in this word. Black lines show what the child actually wrote on the page; grey lines, recorded by the tablet, show in-air movements when the child paused. Blue squares indicate that the child lifted his or her head to look at the spelling of the word on the computer screen.
Credit: © Sonia Kandel for GIPSA-Lab, CNRS/Université Grenoble Alpes/Grenoble INP

Response: Learning to spell affects the physical writing process. Dyslexia impairs spelling skills. These deficient orthographic processes affects even more the writing movements. Spelling retrieval becomes so difficult that it interferes with motor programming during movement production. The children with dyslexia and dysgraphia produced irregular, and sometimes, unreadable letter shapes.

To understand exactly how spelling affected handwriting, researchers recorded the participants’ writing movements on a digitizer. The analysis of the writing movements revealed that writing irregular words (e.g., « through ») and pseudo words (e.g., « thrint ») rendered the writing movements dysfluent and irregular.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Dyslexia is a learning difficulty which affects the ability to adopt the automatic reflexes needed to read and write. Several studies have sought to identify the source of the problems encountered by individuals with dyslexia when they read. Little attention, however, has been paid to the mechanisms involved in writing. This study investigated the motor aspects of writing in children diagnosed with dyslexia. The results show that orthographic processing in children with dyslexia and dysgraphia is so laborious that it can modify or impair writing skills, despite the absence of motor disorders.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: This study revealed that the interaction between orthographic and motor processing constitutes an important cognitive load that may disrupt the graphic outcome of the children with dyslexia and dysgraphia. In these cases, they are diagnosed with praxic disorders, a pathology that affects the motor aspects of writing. This inaccurate diagnosis results in ineffective motor therapies that can lead to discouragement in the child. Our research shows that precise diagnosis on spelling and motor impairments is determinant to provide effective support to dyslexic and dysgraphic children. Therapy should take into account the impact of spelling processes on the motor components of writing.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Writing is one of the most important communicational tools in humans. The children in elementary school spend more than 50% of the time in tasks that involve writing. Despite the importance of writing in our society, the studies investigating written language production are very scarce. Most studies on language processing focus on speech and reading. This lack of interest for writing is surprising because everything we read has to be written somewhere by someone!

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Sonia Kandel, Delphine Lassus-Sangosse, Géraldine Grosjacques, Cyril Perret. The impact of developmental dyslexia and dysgraphia on movement production during word writing. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 2017; 34 (3-4): 219 DOI: 1080/02643294.2017.1389706

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

 

 

 

 

 

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