Dysgraphia

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Definition

Dysgraphia is a childhood learning disorder that involves poor writing skills. It is also called disorder of written expression.

Alternative Names

Written expression disorder; Specific learning disorder with impairment in written expression

Causes

Dysgraphia is as common as other learning disorders.

A child can have dysgraphia only or with other learning disabilities, such as:

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Errors in grammar and punctuation
  • Poor handwriting
  • Poor spelling
  • Poorly organized writing
  • Has to say words aloud when writing

Exams and Tests

Other causes of learning disabilities must be ruled out before the diagnosis can be confirmed.

Treatment

Special (remedial) education is the best approach to this type of disorder.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The degree of recovery depends on the severity of the disorder. Improvement is often seen after treatment.

Possible Complications

Complications that may occur include:

  • Learning problems
  • Low self-esteem
  • Problems with socializing

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Parents who are concerned about their child's writing ability should have their child tested by educational professionals.

Prevention

Learning disorders often run in families. Affected or potentially affected families should make every effort to recognize problems early. Intervention can begin as early as preschool or kindergarten.

References

Grajo LC, Guzman J, Szklut SE, Philibert DB. Learning disabilities and developmental coordination disorder. In: Lazaro RT, Rienna-Guerra SG, Quiben MU, eds. Umphred's Neurological Rehabilitation. 7th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2020:chap 12.

Kelly DP, Natale MJ. Neurodevelopmental and executive function and dysfunction. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 48.

Review Date: 
10/2/2020
Reviewed By: 
Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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