Explaining Dysgraphia: Difficulty with Handwriting

Explaining Dysgraphia: Difficulty with Handwriting

Dysgraphia is explained as a learning disability where one person is struggling to write. / Photo by: Getty Images


There are students who have trouble with the ability to write despite their reading ability. They may also struggle with writing even though they don't have or are not diagnosed with any cognitive impairment. A recent study of students who have ADHD or Autism Spectrum Disorder found 59 percent of them had dysgraphia, according to Your Therapy Source.

Dysgraphia is a term used for referring to the struggle with handwriting. This learning disability affects how a person recognizes the form in letters, to write letters, and words on paper. It also influences their understanding of the relationship between sounds, spoken words, and written letters. Dysgraphia is considered to be a subtype of learning disability in basic or expressive writing.

Overview of Dysgraphia

This particular learning disability would explain why many children and students learn words by repeatedly writing them while others have difficulty in recalling the word despite their repeated writing of it. According to the Dianne Craft Learning System, the repetitive act of writing the word uses up most of the child's "battery energy," which becomes insufficient that it hinders the transfer of the word into the right brain—where the long-term memory is stored.

The symptoms that children who have dysgraphia demonstrate on a daily basis are:

1. Recurrent reversal writing of letters.
2. Writes letters from bottom to top
3. Obvious struggle to write
4. Copying is sloppy and consumes too much time
5. Improper capitalizations
6. Has refined speaking skills but struggles to put it into writing
7. Does mental calculations to avoid writing it down
8. Difficulty in putting numbers in a chronological order when computing


One of the symptoms that children have dysgraphia is they are doing mental calculations to avoid writing it down. / Photo by: Getty Images


One misconception about people with dysgraphia is that because they have trouble with writing, then they also have trouble with their abilities as well. This is not true, according to Very Well Family, since people with this disability are found to have average or better abilities in other areas. They are also seen as lazy and careless with their work due to frustration and exhaustion they go through. This is because people with dysgraphia exert more effort into the seemingly easy tasks than others.

This learning disability is presumed to involve struggles with fine motor skills such as motor memory, muscle coordination, and movement in writing. The areas of the brain that are responsible for language, visual, perceptual, and motor are also thought to influence dysgraphia. Other evidence suggests the condition can be inherited, while those who suffered injuries of the brain or stroke are also found to show indications of dysgraphia.

Types of Dysgraphia

Dysgraphia is categorized into five kinds, but note that some children may be diagnosed with more than one type of this learning disability, as reported by Your Therapy Source.

Dyslexic Dysgraphia

This is where a person's written is hard to read and their spelling is poor. Despite its name, a dyslexic dysgraphia doesn't necessarily have dyslexia.

Motor Dysgraphia

This particular type is due to the deficiency in fine motor skills, poor dexterity, poor muscle tone, and unspecified motor clumsiness. Those who have this kind of dysgraphia are found to have sloppy written work, from poor to illegible. The improper hold on a pen or pencil results to slanted writing.

Spatial Dysgraphia

This is developed because of an impairment in the one's understanding of space. Their written work is illegible but words are spelled correctly. Those who have this type of dysgraphia often have difficulties in keeping their writings straight as well as the spacing between words.

Phonological Dysgraphia

Is defined by the disturbances in writing and spelling wherein the spelling of unfamiliar words and phonetically irregular words is tarnished. People with phonological dysgraphia are also incapable of holding phonemes in memory, as well as integrate them in an orderly sequence to come up with the desired word.

Lexical Dysgraphia

Is evident when an individual is able to spell out words but is dependent on common sound-to-letter patterns with improper spellings of irregular words. Such a condition is frequent in the English and French languages that are less phonetic compared to other languages such as Spanish. Lexical dysgraphia is rarely diagnosed in children.

Dysgraphia vs Dyslexia

Most parents find it difficult to differentiate dysgraphia from dyslexia since each condition is often accompanied by the other. The main difference is that dysgraphia involves the difficulty in writing, whereas dyslexia refers to the struggle to read and spell words properly.

When these conditions go hand in hand, those who are affected find it hard to write sentences from memory alone. This is due to the fact their right, visual hemisphere fails to store words efficiently than it should. Moreover, they also have to think the direction of the letters instead of the content of the writing.

Children who are diagnosed with dyslexia are often diagnosed with dysgraphia. However, not all kids who have dysgraphia are accompanied by dyslexia—they are able to read above grade level even though they struggle with their written expressions.