Dysgraphia is a specific learning disability that often remains undiagnosed. It is a persistent difficulty with written expression, handwriting and/or spelling that may occur in isolation but, more often, occurs in conjunction with dyslexia.
Dysgraphia can be defined as:
… a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterised by difficulties with accurate and / or fluent written expression and by poor spelling and handwriting skills. These ongoing delays in writing are often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction.
It is commonly recognised that dysgraphia can be separated into two subtypes: Motor-based dysgraphia and Language-based dysgraphia. Both subtypes of dysgraphia are likely to have a detrimental impact on the writing process and both will result in the child facing a number of writing challenges.
Motor-based dysgraphia can be viewed as difficulties with the mechanical aspects of writing. Often children with this type of dysgraphia are able to structure and sequence their ideas effectively, but struggle with the manual aspects of handwriting. This results in writing becoming a tiring, laborious and sometimes painful process for the student.
Language-based dysgraphia is more consistent with delays in processing and sequencing ideas in writing.
The content of the writing is well below the level expected, despite children being able to present their ideas clearly and concisely orally. There may be no difficulty in the handwriting aspect of writing in a child with Language-based dysgraphia.
Students with dysgraphia often have to work much harder and longer to produce written work to the same standard as an individual with typically developing writing skills.
Dysgraphia across the school years
Children with dysgraphia will show some or many of the difficulties listed below. They may not display all of these characteristics.