Acoustic dysgraphy is a partial disorder of the writing function caused by a lack of auditory perception. It appears by substitutions or mixing letters on the letter denoting phonetically similar sounds: hissing-whistling, hard-soft, sonorous-deaf, affricates and their components. At the same time, the sound reproduction of the child is correct. Dysgraphy is diagnosed based on the results of the analysis of written works, the study of auditory differentiation of phonemes. The correctional route involves overcoming phonemic underdevelopment, clarifying the acoustic characteristics of sounds, working on phonemic analysis and synthesis.
F81.1 Specific spelling disorder
Acoustic dysgraphy occurs due to insufficient formation of phonemic perception by the beginning of a child’s schooling. As a result of non-discrimination of speech sounds by ear, inability to sound analysis and synthesis in writing, the student makes the wrong decision about the correlation of phoneme with grapheme (“writes as he hears”). Incorrect phonemic recognition is inherent in children with functional dyslalia, sensory alalia, erased dysarthria, adults with acoustic-gnostic aphasia.
Examination of children suffering from acoustic dysgraphy reveals a number of social and biological factors that can be considered as predisposing. Among them:
- illegibility, slurred speech of the child;
- the presence of sound substitutions in oral speech, defects of ringing and softening;
- indistinctness of diction of surrounding adults;
- lack of speech contacts;
- unreasonably early literacy training (lack of psychological and linguistic prerequisites);
- burdened medical history (birth trauma, asphyxia in childbirth, TBI, painfulness of the child), leading to minimal dysfunction of the central nervous system.
Well-developed auditory-pronunciation differentiation and phonemic perception are an indispensable condition for mastering literacy: reading and writing. Spontaneous phonemic development is completed normally by the age of 5-6. The child is able to hear and distinguish individual sounds in a word, determine their place and sequence. On this basis, in the future it becomes possible to master the skill of writing.
The incompleteness of phonemic recognition processes by the beginning of school, even in the absence of sound-producing defects, is accompanied by difficulties in mastering written speech, creates prerequisites for the development of acoustic dysgraphy. During the writing operation, the child cannot make an auditory analysis of the word, identify the acoustic signs of the phoneme, translate it into a kinesthetic image (relying on pronunciation), make a decision on comparing the phoneme with the corresponding grapheme. If motor, optical, and regulatory functions are also disrupted, then mixed dysgraphy develops.
Depending on which phonemic recognition operation is violated in the process of writing, the following subspecies of acoustic dysgraphy are distinguished in speech therapy:
- acoustic – there is an inaccurate auditory differentiation of sounds and their analysis;
- kinesthetic – difficulties of phonemic recognition are associated with insufficient kinesthetic control of the writing process;
- phonemic – the student makes the wrong decision about choosing a particular phoneme.
Symptoms of acoustic dysgraphy
Manifestations of dysgraphy based on impaired phonemic recognition become noticeable in elementary school, but the prerequisites can be detected even in preschool childhood. Children confuse the sounds of speech, pronounce words indistinctly, and have difficulty memorizing poems and songs. They have reduced efficiency and concentration, there is a frequent switching of attention.
There are also omissions and permutations of letters in words, erroneous designation of the softness of consonants with a soft sign or iotic vowels. In severe forms of dysgraphy, phonemes are mixed, which denote sounds that differ in their acoustic characteristics. In this case, as a rule, the sound reproduction is not impaired, but sometimes the child has inaccurate speech kinesthesia.
The main consequence of acoustic dysgraphy is school failure in the native language, literary reading, and often mathematics. Poor grades, low scores for the final certification at the end of primary school, the threat of leaving the child for the second year – all this reduces motivation to study, forms an unwillingness to attend school or individual subjects, gives rise to conflict in relations with teachers and classmates. Situations of failure and disbelief in oneself create the ground for the subsequent development of anxiety, low self-esteem, and depression in a child.
Usually parents or a teacher turn to a speech therapist with complaints about persistent errors of the same type that the child makes on the letter. During the analysis of workbooks, the specialist notices typical problems for acoustic dysgraphy: replacement / mixing of letters by phonetic similarity, permutations, omissions of letters. To confirm the diagnostic hypothesis, the speech therapist conducts an examination of oral speech:
- Evaluation of sound reproduction. Students with acoustic dysgraphy pronounce sounds correctly, but they may have fuzzy diction, inaccuracy of switching articulation poses. There are no anatomical defects of the speech apparatus.
- Research of phonemic processes. To a greater extent, auditory differentiation, analysis and synthesis operations, and ideas about the acoustic properties of phonemes are unformed. The child is not able to correctly repeat syllabic chains with oppositional sounds, select pictures with the desired sound, determine the place of the sound in the word, show objects designated by paronyms.
- Examination of other aspects of speech. The state of the syllabic structure of the word, lexical and grammatical categories of speech is checked. The reading function is being investigated: phonemic dyslexia is usually detected in children with acoustic dysgraphy.
Audiometry can be recommended among the methods of medical diagnostics, because with the shortcomings of phonemic recognition, it is always necessary to exclude hearing loss. Instrumental neurological examination according to indications includes electroencephalography, ultrasound of the vessels of the neck, cerebral CT or MRI.
Correction of acoustic dysgraphy
The correction route for dysgraphy caused by the lack of phonemic recognition is built taking into account the impaired speech links. During the classes, tasks are solved:
- formation of phonemic perception;
- clarification of acoustic and pronunciation characteristics of sounds, their differentiation;
- mastering sound-letter analysis and synthesis;
- correlation of a phoneme with its graphical equivalent – a grapheme.
The work on sounds is carried out in the following sequence: first, the articulatory and acoustic aspects of vowels are clarified, then consonants, then oppositional sounds (soft / hard, sonorous / deaf). Only after that they proceed to independent writing – copying texts, writing auditory dictation, essays, expositions.
In addition to improving speech functions, they are working on the development of HMF – memory, thinking, attention. It is useful to include elements of phonetic and speech therapy rhythmics, motor and speech physical exercises in the structure of classes. Interest in classes increases the use of interactive games.
Prognosis and prevention
Elimination of acoustic dysgraphy is a long and painstaking process. It can be successful only with purposeful, systematic classes, mutual efforts on the part of the speech therapist and the student. The prognosis is more favorable the earlier dysgraphy is detected in the primary school and its correction is started. Otherwise, a student with acoustic dysgraphy will inevitably fall into the category of low-achievers.
Prevention of acoustic dysgraphy should be carried out from preschool childhood. It includes routine examinations of preschoolers by a speech therapist, purposeful development of phonemic processes in case of their violation, preparation for school. Adults should be attentive to their own and children’s speech, try to minimize adverse effects on the child’s central nervous system at all stages of its development.