I live with Dysgraphia, so my writing is often error filled or erratic. This means I live often not knowing  if I am right or wrong. Many opinions help. But not all.

grammer nazi

What is dygraphia?  A lesser known learning disability than dyslexia which I am grateful I do not have.  It leads to errors in spelling mostly, but also grammar. Here is the National Center for Learning disabilities’  definition:

Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects writing, which requires a complex set of motor and information processing skills. Dysgraphia makes the act of writing difficult. It can lead to problems with spelling, poor handwriting and putting thoughts on paper. People with dysgraphia can have trouble organizing letters, numbers and words on a line or page. This can result partly from:

  • Visual-spatial difficulties: trouble processing what the eye sees
  • Language processing difficulty: trouble processing and making sense of what the ear hears

As with all learning disabilities (LD), dysgraphia is a lifelong challenge, although how it manifests may change over time.”

to shoe you wat my dygraphia looks liek ehre is a sentence that I worte without thought or care adnas you see it is replete with mistakes.  Sigh.

As I age it is getting worse. Probably my brain reverting to childhood.

Dysgraphia  is  not knowing how to spell.  It is a matter of knowing in your head the right way, but being taken over by some demonic process that wants to have their way with your writing. Moreover, spell check and grammar check do not capture all errors.

Here’s a kicker.  Go to Katherine Levine’s Author page and see how many books I have published, writing cripple that I am.

Truth be told, I made many teachers balder than they should have been, drove almost all my editors to switch careers.  I also miss out on things like Fresh Press Google ratings  and because of my errors. Finally, I get unfriended or negative comments from many who value form over content.

I hope you believe me when I say seeing some stupid error not caught before pushing the publish button hurts and shames  me far more than it offends someone who is a tried and true Grammar Nazi.

I feel sorry for most Grammar Nazis. Why?  I am sure they are dealing with obsessive compulsion disorder and suffer from that more than those of us freer from perfectionism. Moreover as texting changes our language and writing, the Grammar  Nazi’s are  probably going bald.

For those that think all such disabilities are beside the point, think again.  As a former therapist I am not in love with  efforts to attach labels to everyone. However,  Emotional Fitness Training, Inc. suggests  “yes/and”  instead of “either/or” thinking is more helpful and speaks for a broader #emotionalintelligence.

Here is why. I struggled for years with feeling shamed and stupid, then my oldest son was having trouble in school and we decided to get him psychological testing.  We lucked out both in our choice to see a psychologist and the one we chose.  (We did not choose the one the school picked and were lucky we had the money to seek someone with no conflicting ties. )

When my son’s dysgraphia was explained to me not only one light bulb went off in my head, but fireworks.  Finally, I understood my struggles, I understood the struggles of one of my brothers, an Uncle,  and I understood my mother’s family declining fortunes.   So I am not against any version of the DMS, but am against careless and unthinking of its application.

How was that?

Dysgraphia is a genetic mutation of some sort.  You can trace its effect throughout my mother’s family tree.  The first of her ancestors came over with William Penn, possibly as an indentured servant that is not clear.  What was clear was the family success as lawyers.  One even served in Lincoln’s House of Representatives; the town of Broomall, Pa was named for him and I swam as a child in Broomal’s Lake.

By the time I was growing up, however, the family was in decline. My Uncle Tom became somewhat like the hero of the movie  A Beautiful Mind.  I had to leave the theater when the movie took me  to John Nash’s office cabin in the woods and revealed that he was once again locked into the arms of his disorder.

Nash’s cabin reminded me of my Uncle Tom’s room, he lived with us for many years when unable to work or live alone because of his struggles. He was a loving and brilliant man, but haunted with the need to change the irrationality of English Spelling.  He ended up with several DSM diagnosis, but not dysgraphia and that to me was definitelypart of the mix.

So that was one of the fire crackers exploding when I learned of this particular DSM label.  Back to the family’s decline.  The family fortunes’ prospered as long as apprenticeships made lawyers, not college and law school grades and degrees.

How?  Because both their strengths and weakness were better weighed during the years of apprenticeships.  In addition to learning disabilities, my family inherited high IQs.  Now I know that it is not politically correct to suggest that some people are born with a greater talent for smarts than other people; however the fact remains – some people are smarter than others. More over there are lots of different kinds of smarts.  Despite what our equality based hopes want us to think, having  smarts does not depend as much on environment and schooling as the right genes.

When Oprah and others “Just do it” gurus preach follow your dreams, they are offering false hopes to many.  Watch American Idle auditions for proof  dreams do not always come true.  Oprah is brilliant.   She also had,  as I did, people in her life who had faith in her strengths.

Moreover, she probably stood out in school as student. Jerome Kagan, one of my gurus, points out that going to a small school where any talent is appreciated and needed by the community serves children better than being in an honor’s class in a large school.

When not part of a mass education effort, but involved in smaller teaching efforts, caring instructors tend to see the whole person and not just the stupid seeming errors.  I was fortunate that I had such teachers  in high school, college, and graduate school. These honored my brain, tried to help me with my difficulties and kept me trying to be what I wanted to be – a writer.

In time, I was also fortunate in coming to  understand that although not formally diagnosed, I was dysgraphic.  Finding that out was like the end of a July 4th fireworks display and the beginning of being better ablt to battle feeling stupid and ashamed.

Emotional intelligence building tips

Emotional fitness tip one:  Use rating scales to stay focused on what matters.   How?   Are you editing or writing something for a major paid publication or hoping to be the next best selling novelist? That should make you a nine or ten on the” Be a Grammar Nazi” scale.   Not paid?  Drop the rating.  A text message? That ‘s a one.

Emotional fitness tip two:  Strengthen your protective shield. Start  by resisting the urge to correct, point out or feel shamed by an error based on five and below rating scale of importance.  Tell yourself “Good enough” and move on.  The more perfection needs are ignored, the less their stranglehold.

Emotional fitness tip three:  Improve your self-soothing skills. See my Easy Emotional Fitness Execises some practice steps for soothing and strengthening that protective shield.

Parenting Emotional fitness Tip

Parening tip one: Learn and use all the skills suggested above. You and any child you care for and about will benefit.

Parening tip two:  Think about the possiblity of a learning disablity if a child seems to be behind others in school.  The time to start worrying is as s/he is moving into the second grade and not reading and/ or struggling with writing or math.  The sooner such problems are probably diagnosed the more useful.

Parening tip three: Do not let fears or worries about DSM labels rule you. Take an “What if” approach.  If  a child has an DSM disorder and his or her life is being impacted, the right diagnosis and treatment often makes the difference between  life long pain and the good life.

Parenting tip four: Think a bit about other common disorders that are missed and impact a child’s functioning include:

  1. Anxiety disorders – think excessive shyness, think perfectionism
  2. Trauma reactions – think astham and being unable to breathe; think inattention or impulsiveness, particularly physically striking out.
  3. Sadness without any apparent cause: think depression.

For more detailed thinking about diagnosis, incorrect or missed diagnosis go here: Symptoms Often Misdiagnosed in Children.


If you like this post share it with another.  That is practicing deliberate kindness which is another easy Emotional Fitness Exercise and the sublect of today’s Free Poster Coach.

As always, thank you for your support.


This post fits in with Today’s Word Press’s  Aug 10, 2014 Daily Prompt  Second Opinion :What are some (or one) of the things about which you usually don’t trust your own judgment, and need someone’s else’s confirmation?  Answered above and thank you Word Press for letting me educate some about Dysgraphia.


Practice Deliberate Kindness ass an Emotional Fitness Exercise.

All EFTI Poster Coaches are offered as free digitial downloads at the EFTI Store.



  1. Pingback: DYSGRAPHIA: ALL ABOUT BAD SPELLING. | Parents Are People Too

  2. I have not heard of this, but I can’t help but wonder if my daughter might benefit from this post! She is 24, but her entire life she has struggled with spelling and writing. She is an avid reader. She says she knows how to spell but somehow when she puts words to paper, they get mixed up and she is lost. She also suffers from extreme shyness, and has since birth. Lovely post and good for you to keep doing what you love!

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