The question being asked by this study is would children, ages 7 to 10 years old, diagnosed with dyslexia or dysgraphia have drawing abnormalities when evaluated using the traditional pen and sheet method when analyzed on an optoelectronic system. Three groups matched by age and school grade were used for the analysis of children with dyslexia, children with dysgraphia, and normally developing kids as the control group. Traces of a circle, cross, and square were analyzed using smart tracking and smart analyzer software.
To allow for virtual reconstruction of the mechanics the child used, markers were placed on the paper, pen, and kid which were used to look at movement duration, velocity, length of the trace, and range of motion of the limb. Largely, the drawings were analyzed for correctness and the presence/absence of features that characterized the different shapes drawn.
The findings and conclusions from this study saw that children with dysgraphia traced the figures very close to the control group compared to the children with dyslexia.
These findings were attributed to children with dysgraphia having higher motor control than children with dyslexia. Further, children with dyslexia traced figures faster than the other two groups which can be characterized by lower motor control during the action due to the speed used to accomplish the task and a reduction in movement planning. Critique A need for a quantitative evaluation of children’s drawing technique using natural conditions of movement was shown in the previous research. Specifically, Abell, et al. (1996), and Frankenburg, et al.
(1992), constructed a similar study but used a visual evaluation of the drawings, a qualitative evaluation technique. Further, several prior studies used computerized tablets in the evaluation of drawing and handwriting analysis’s, but the technological interface of the tablet does not allow for natural conditions of movement.
Rotating a tablet as someone would a piece of paper is not possible. The research question was based on a heterarchical theory because the task was continuous, they were constantly receiving input and making adjustments to trace the shape as accurately as possible. The degree of freedom problem is what is being addressed because this study is specifically looking at the different ways the body can perform this movement and comparing the abnormalities between the three groups. Specifically look at the variances in trace length, time, velocity and figure error. The researchers designed a good study because the task being performed, drawing a shape, and the measures that were analyzed (i.e. trace length, time, velocity, and figure error) were used sufficiently to answer the question of whether or not drawing abnormalities would be seen in children diagnosed with dyslexia or dysgraphia in comparison to normally developing children. Something that was noted during the study was that children with dyslexia seemed to be more interested in completing the task versus speed and accuracy of the task.
This confounding variable could have affected the results because by sacrificing speed and accuracy more errors could have occurred during the execution of the movement. The author’s interpretations of the results are convincing. They interpreted the results as children with dyslexia had lower motor control which was demonstrated when drawing all three shapes. When drawing the circle and parts of the cross children with dyslexia had shorter durations and higher velocities when compared to the control group and children with dysgraphia, P < 0.05. When tracing the square children with dyslexia had significant differences in some duration parameters, length of the upper side of the square drawn, and curvature in most sides, p < 0.05. No significant differences were seen between the control group and children with dysgraphia in the circle and cross test, but differences were seen between these two groups during the square test.
Children with dysgraphia had higher curvatures in most sides, P < 0.05. These results further support the finding of children with dysgraphia having higher motor control when compared to children with dyslexia and similar motor control when compared to the control group. Also, no significant differences were observed in kinematic parameters among the groups in the three tests. The findings in this study were consistent with the previous findings in that dyslexia is associated with fine and gross motor difficulties. Additionally, it was inconsistent with a previous finding of children with dysgraphia appearing to write at a faster rate than the control group. This inconsistency could have been a result of the experimental set-up differences. There were no effect size values sited. Another way to interpret the results is to apply the hierarchical theory to it.
Using hierarchical theory to explain the results that were found could be a result of information processing. A stimulus was received and that signal was sent up to the brain for processing before a movement was done. What was interesting about this study was the authors inferred that the children with dyslexia who had difficulties with drawing could be indicative of their ability to write and read words. There is a high correlation between word reading and writing in that they have similar acquisition periods which could mean that they both use some of the same underlying abilities. Drawing could be a predictive factor of how someone with dyslexia will write, and therefore read words, due to similar fine and gross motor control, and motor coordination processes being used in the brain. To follow up this research a study looking more in-depth at what is happening at the muscular and brain level should be assessed.
Similar groups should be used, one group of children with dyslexia, one group of children with dysgraphia, and one group of normally developing children matched by school grade and be of 7 to 10 years of age. Group sizes of about 30 children should be used. The same task should be used, drawing three different objects but instead of analyzing the line length, velocity, movement duration and figure errors, an analysis of what is happening in the brain during the task and with the muscles should be done. This can be accomplished by using electromyography to assess muscle activation and electroencephalography to assess cerebral activity. The differences from these analyses may give more insight into how learning disabilities affect children with dyslexia and dysgraphia compared to normally developing children differ.