What is dysgraphia?


Dysgraphia is a specific learning disability that affects writing skills, which include spelling, handwriting, and comprehension (organizing words, sentences, and paragraphs). Writing requires a complex set of fine motor and language processing skills. For children with dysgraphia, the writing process is harder and slower.

Compared to other learning disabilities like dyslexia or dyscalculia, dysgraphia is less known and less diagnosed. It may tend to get overshadowed by other symptoms. Also, standardized tests are not available to correctly diagnose the problem.


What is not dysgraphia?


It is important to understand that slow or untidy writing is not a sign of dysgraphia. It could also be possible that a child has trouble hearing and hence may not be able to hear what is being said and then express it in writing. An audiometry test can be conducted to rule out hearing problem.


What are the signs of dysgraphia?


The signs and severity of dysgraphia differ from one child to another. These signs also vary during each stage of childhood.

Some of the difficulties observed during each stage of childhood are provided here:

Preschool: Kids may have difficulty in

  • Holding a pencil with ease. The child may grip the pencil tightly, or in an awkward way.

  • Forming shapes of letters and numbers

  • Maintaining consistent spacing between letters or words

  • Understanding of uppercase and lowercase letters

  • Writing or drawing in a line or within margins

  • Writing for a long period of time

Primary and middle school: Children may have difficulty in

  • Writing legibly

  • Combining cursive and print writing

  • Saying words out loud while writing

  • Comprehending what’s written due to excessive stress on the act of writing

  • Taking notes

  • Thinking of new words or synonyms while writing

  • Forming complete sentences – some words may be omitted or unfinished

Teenagers and adolescents: They may have difficulty in

  • Organizing thoughts in written communication

  • Keeping track of thoughts already written

  • Forming grammatically-correct, structured sentences


What causes dysgraphia?


Researchers have not identified the exact cause of dysgraphia but they observe that it could be due the brain's inability to process information accurately.


How is dysgraphia identified?


Parents and teachers may observe the signs of dysgraphia in a child in preschool, but most of the times, these signs go unnoticed. The earlier the condition is identified and addressed, the easier it is for the child to overcome the difficulty.

Experts conduct certain assessments and writing tests to measure fine motor skills and the writing process before identifying the condition.


How can you access treatment for dysgraphia?


Like with every other learning disability, dysgraphia cannot be cured. However, with timely support and intervention you can help the child improve his or her writing skills. You can take the help of special education experts to try out different learning methods and identify which one works best for your child. 


How to care for someone with dysgraphia?


Parents and specialists can work together and use some of these alternative methods:

  1. Trying different pencils and pens and choose the most comfortable one.

  2. Using paper with clear lines and enough space to form letters and write within the line.

  3. Using graphics, illustrations, and phonetics to help the child recognize letters and words for writing.

  4. Using assistive technology or voice-activated software (word processing tools and audio tools) that help in improving writing skills.

  5. Teachers providing extra time for writing assignments or tests.

  6. Using tape recorders to record lessons and then write them by listening slowly.

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