Dysgraphia: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

dysgraphia causes and treatment

It refers to a learning disability that primarily affects the ability to write.

The term comes from the Greek words “dys” (meaning “impaired”) and “graphia” (meaning “written description”).

Dysgraphia is a specific type of learning disability that consists of abnormal and distorted handwriting. It usually affects young children.

Granted, most kids display some difficulty when it comes to writing or mastering penmanship.

But in the cases of kids with Dysgraphia, their handwriting is consistently distorted or unclear.

For many children that suffer from this condition, just holding a pencil and trying to place each letter in a straight line is an arduous task.

Writing is not only about conveying and expressing ideas of one’s mind into written text.

During some of the early stages of learning, kids must put to use a combination of fundamental yet complex physical and cognitive skills to render letters as precisely and fluidly as they can.

When children suffer from Dysgraphia the motor and information processing skills needed to write are less efficient due to a neurological or language disorder.

This issue can negatively impact children’s education and self-esteem while limiting what they can achieve in their later lives.

Several medical experts often claim this developmental issue may be related to other conditions such as dyslexia or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Dysgraphia Causes

Medical experts aren’t sure about what causes this condition, as well as other similar disorders.

Usually, the brain receives information through the senses, stores it, and then retrieves it from the short or long-term memory to use it for a specific task.

However, when kids suffer from Dysgraphia, one or two steps in this processes possibly go off track.

For example, the brain could have some issues organizing that previously stored information.

That may be the reason why this condition results in a hard to read text filled with errors, that does not convey what the kid intended to write.

Another possible cause of Dysgraphia may have something to do with orthographic coding.

Orthographic Coding, also known as orthographic processing, refers to the use of the visual system to form and store words in the working memory, to recall them later.

Medical experts think the issue may start at the working memory, which is the cognitive system that temporarily stores and manages the information necessary to carry out complex tasks.

Other researchers theorize there’s a genetic factor involved as this disorder seems to run in families like an inherited condition.

Another potential cause of Dysgraphia could be a language disorder.  In such cases, kids may have difficulty converting the sounds of language into written words.

However, experts haven’t reached a consensus regarding most of these matters.

There are some cases in which an adult could get Dysgraphia, but these occur mostly due to a brain injury.


The early manifestation of this issue usually consists of an awkward body position and a remarkably tight pencil grip, along with difficulty forming letter shapes as well as the display of inconsistent spacing.

Children will likely try to avoid writing or drawing tasks, as well as tire quickly while performing such activities.

But when the condition finally occurs, the usual symptoms include the ones listed here below:

  • Generally illegible and inconsistent writing
  • Poor spatial planning (trouble spacing things out on paper or within margins)
  • Unfinished words or letters, and omitted words
  • Sore hand due to an abnormally cramped grip of the writing instrument
  • Slow or overly labored copying or writing


A pediatrician can rule out any other diseases or conditions that can cause similar symptoms.

But the one who can identify or confirm Dysgraphia is a psychologist. These specialists will assess young children through written tests to measure their motor skills and the ability to put their thoughts into words.

They not only examine the text written by the kids but also their writing process, which includes a wide variety of factors such as posture, position, pencil grip, fatigue, etc.

Dysgraphia Treatment

According to medical experts, there is no cure for this condition. But there are therapies and teaching strategies conceived to help a child to deal with Dysgraphia.

There are specific teaching techniques to help children who suffer from this condition. Teachers will have to choose the strategies they use based on their students’ particular challenges.

More often than not, children with Dysgraphia also have Dyslexia, so they may need to work on letter-sound relationships, syllable patterns, and understanding the meaning of the words.

The children with Dysgraphia are highly unlikely to understand the rules of writing.

That is why teachers will need to use explicit instruction to help them to learn about such rules.

Usually, people sum up the measures used to help kids with Dysgraphia in three categories:

  • Accommodations: which means providing alternatives to written expressions, such as adjusting assessments.
  • Modifications: which refers to the change of expectations or tasks to minimize the impact of the specific deficiency of the kid.
  • Remediation: which is providing instruction for the kids to improve their writing skills.

Aside from these strategies, there are several therapies for Dysgraphia. Some of them are listed here below:

  • Occupational Therapy
  • Educational Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Parents can even take some measures to assist their children at home. People can try out pencil grips, slant boards, raised paper, highlighted paper, graphic organizer, and computer programs.

However, parents do well in consulting with both medical experts and teachers to decide the best course of action in their particular case.