Learning Challenges

Dysgraphia — I Created an App for That

It’s called SnapType, and it helps kids keep up with their peers in class when their penmanship holds them back.

Boy with ADHD wearing glasses using tablet in elementary school class
Boy with ADHD wearing glasses using tablet in elementary school class

Steven is a fifth-grader who I met during my occupational therapy fieldwork several months ago. He was diagnosed with dysgraphia. His handwriting is so messy that no one can read it.

His occupational therapist tried many things to help him improve his penmanship, but nothing worked. The determined OT even scanned his worksheets into a computer so he could type in answers to questions, but it was too time consuming and she stopped doing it. Steven was frustrated about getting left behind in class because he couldn’t complete the worksheets with the rest of his peers.

There had to be a better way to help Steven keep up. I had an idea: What if he could take a picture of his worksheet using an iPad and type his answers on the screen? I searched the app store, but there was nothing out there that did that. There were a few apps, but they were designed for business people and were too complex for a child to use.

[Self-Test for Dysgraphia in Children]

I sketched out my idea on a napkin and shared it with Steven’s OT. She loved it. So I put together a detailed mockup of the app and worked with a developer to build it. A few weeks and a few dollars later, I had a working app called SnapType.

Steven’s OT and teacher are thrilled. However, the real joy comes from seeing Steven use the app. It is easy for him to take a picture of a worksheet and use the iPad keyboard to answer questions. He no longer falls behind in class and is more confident about his abilities.

Another side benefit of using SnapType is that a student’s worksheets are safely stored in one place — on his or her iPad. This prevents kids with ADHD or LD from losing or misplacing them, as they sometimes do.

SnapType is available in the iTunes Store and Android Apps for free. I hope to help many kids with writing challenges by encouraging OTs, teachers, and parents to use it. If you have any questions for Amberlynne, feel free to reach out to her here.

[The ADHD Guide to Mobile Apps & Digital Tools]

10 Comments & Reviews

  1. I love this idea! Unfortunately, the link indicated it is not available in the app store. When I tried to reach the author, I was told I had to join LinkedIn to do so. Am I missing something? Thanks – Jan

  2. My daughter has dyslexia and dysgraphia, and ADHD. When her ADHD symptoms began showing themselves more clearly, we went ahead and put her on meds, even though they were fairly mild.* The difference in my daughter’s writing on meds and off them was night and day. Off meds, it was incredibly messy and painfully slow – sobthst she could write neatly enough to read it. On meds, she suddenly wrote at a fairly normal speed and on the messier end of normal for her age. Or at least that was the case in 5th grade. She’s in 11th grade now, and the difference in her writing on and off meds is negligible. I guess muscle memory plays a role now.

    Also, on a side note, a few years ago, after watching The Lord of the Rings movies, she looked up dwarves and elvish runes, and found that they were easier for her to read and write, as did Norse and Greek runes. So, for a while, she took notes in dwarven runes.

    *ADHD, according to my brother does not run in our family, it rides piggyback, clubbing people upside the head.. It’s in my husband’s family.

  3. This article should be updated to say that there’s an app for Android users also. I’ve shared to many homeschool pages and people read the article and get upset because they’re interested but don’t use Apple. If they click on the link it gives the choice. I took a screenshot of that and share with those people saying they wish it worked on android.

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