What is Dysgraphia?

When a child is diagnosed with a learning disability, they typically experience difficulties in at least one of three academic areas: reading, mathematics, and written language. A learning disability in the area of reading known as dyslexia was discussed in an earlier blog (1/12/2015) and affects an individual’s ability to acquire the skills necessary for reading. A learning disability in the area of math is also known as dyscalculia and will be addressed in a future blog. This post will focus on dysgraphia which affects how easily an individual acquires the motor skill of handwriting. By extension dysgraphia also impacts how well an individual is able to use written language to express complete thoughts.


Has your child or a child you have worked with ever told you that they have nothing to write about? Despite the fact that you or someone else has given them a very clear topic that you know they have a lot of knowledge about. However they cannot seem to get beyond the blank page before them and begin writing! We call this writer’s block. It can be said that students with dysgraphia have an extreme case of writer’s block. It requires great effort for them to physically form letters. With so much brain power going in to letter formation, they don’t have a lot left over to attend to ensuring that each word is spelled correctly. Sentence formation tends to be basic while capitalization and punctuation tend to be completely forgotten. This lack of automaticity at the foundational level of written language makes the more complex aspects of writing an extreme challenge. As a result students with dysgraphia need explicit instruction and a scaffolded approach to work through the writing process from brainstorming to drafting to editing/proofreading to final draft.

For more information on strategies and approaches that address all the challenges that a student with dysgraphia faces, check out the IDA Fact Sheet titled “Understanding Dysgraphia” at www.interdys.org.