What is Dysgraphia?

Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects writing abilities. It can manifest itself as difficulties with spelling, poor handwriting and trouble putting thoughts on paper" (National Center for Learning Disabilities [2006], found at LDOnline.org). Those with dysgraphia usually have an unusual pencil grip, often with the thumb on top of the fingers. Their writing is slow and belabored, with unusual starting and ending points. They will usually make spelling errors and will have difficulty with capitalization and punctuation. They may also have unusual spatial organization on the page. Their words may be widely spaced or tightly pushed together. They may also have an issue with directionality, which is often the reason for spelling errors.

Dysgraphia is usually found in connection with dyslexia, since both are language-processing issues and are affected by weaknesses in directionality and sequencing. Writing, in general, is difficult for those with dysgraphia, but past the mere mechanics of handwriting. They also have an issue getting their thoughts down on paper for an essay or a report. They have a difficult time with proper sequence and organization. This, coupled with the basic handwriting issues, make this a task that most will avoid at any cost. Certain accommodations can and should be made.

Accommodations for those with dysgraphia would be:

  • Encourage students to outline their thoughts. It is important to get their main ideas down on paper without having to struggle with the details of spelling, punctuation, etc.
  • Have students with dysgraphia dictate their ideas to someone else to type or into a tape recorder to write down later.
  • Being able to use a computer will help them with spelling and handwriting issues so they can produce work faster and clearer.
  • Students should be allowed additional time on writing tasks.
  • Students with dysgraphia should be provided an outline for notes so they can just add the details rather than trying to process the information and copy it down all at once. That is too difficult for them. They are usually too slow and will fall behind.

Those with dysgraphia can benefit from handwriting practice and can work with directionality. Being taught the mechanics of the language in a systematic and sequential reading program will help them with their spelling, which is a huge hurdle for them in their writing. Giving them clear, concise organization strategies for writing papers will be invaluable to them. Dysgraphia, as with any processing disorder, requires patience and understanding. With time, proven intervention, and applicable accommodations, those struggling with this challenge can achieve success.

Learn more about how our software and direct instruction products can help those with dysgraphia overcome their learning disability and become a better writer, reader, and speller.