Writing Disorders

As the name indicates, writing disorders impair the ability to write correctly and legibly. Dysgraphia is the formal name for writing disorder. An individual with writing disorders will experience challenges writing age-appropriate material on paper.

As with many learning disabilities, dysgraphia may manifest alone or alongside other disorders. It is worth noting that there is a difference between writing disorders and poor handwriting.


The common symptoms of dysgraphia are:

  • Illegible handwriting
  • Avoiding tasks that involve fine motor skills such as drawing or writing
  • Awkward handling of pencil and positioning of the body when writing
  • Frequent omission of words when writing
  • Significantly impaired abilities to demonstrate an understanding of ideas in writing when compared to expressive language
  • Irregular spacing between letters and words
  • Challenges forming pre-visualized letters
  • Problems with writing and thinking simultaneously
  • Getting tired, when writing quickly
  • Challenges with grammar and syntax structure
  • Difficulties with spatial planning on paper

Writing disorders are life-long disabilities, but symptoms can certainly be managed on an individual basis. Sometimes symptoms change with age. Treatment should be modified to suit these changes.

Occupational therapists can help the child with the physical act of writing by strengthening fine motor coordination and hand strength.

  • Pencil grips and similar tools and writing exercises can be utilized
  • Use of graph and wide-rule papers can help
  • Other tools: keywords, outlines, and rubrics
  • Teaching the stages of writing, e.g. planning, writing, editing.
  • Teaching grammar
  • Using metacognitive strategies such as self-monitoring and self-regulation
  • Using oral, not written exams