What Is Dysgraphia? - Symptoms, Treatment & Definition

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  • 0:02 Dysgraphia Defined
  • 0:28 Causes & Comorbidity
  • 1:19 Symptoms
  • 2:09 Treatment
  • 3:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

Dysgraphia is a type of learning disability that affects your ability to write. Learn more about the causes of dysgraphia, its symptoms, and how it is treated in this lesson.

Dysgraphia Defined

Dysgraphia is a specific learning disability in which the ability to express oneself through written language is impaired. Simply put, dysgraphia describes difficulty with writing. Dysgraphia is not the result of an intellectual impairment, nor is it dependent upon your ability to read. Dysgraphia has the potential to cause problems with spelling, organizing words on a page, and putting your thoughts on paper.

Causes and Comorbidity of Dysgraphia

Although research on dysgraphia has been limited, there are several theories as to what causes dysgraphia. They include problems with:

  • Sequencing and organizing information
  • Processing what you are seeing (visual information)
  • Understanding and processing what you are hearing (auditory information)
  • Orthographic coding, which is the process of storing written words in working memory while analyzing the letters that make up the word during word learning

It is possible for dysgraphia to occur in isolation of any other disorders. However, it is not uncommon for dysgraphia to be present in individuals with the following disorders:

  • Dyslexia
  • Attention-deficit disorder (all subtypes)
  • Autism spectrum disorders (i.e. Asperger's syndrome)
  • Oral and written language learning disability


Having bad handwriting alone does not indicate that a person has dysgraphia. Signs and symptoms of dysgraphia include:

  • Handwriting that is illegible
  • Letter sizes and shapes are irregular
  • Incomplete letters
  • Difficulty using writing as a means of communication
  • Awkward pencil grip
  • Several spelling mistakes when writing
  • Saying words aloud to yourself while writing
  • Avoidance of or refusal to complete tasks that involve writing or drawing
  • Missing or incomplete words in sentences
  • Trouble with grammar and sentence structure
  • Inefficient use of paper lines and spaces
  • Pain in the hand or arm while writing
  • Discrepancy between understanding demonstrated through verbal communication and written ideas
  • Tiring easily when writing

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