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


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



Dysgraphia is as common as other learning disorders.

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

  • Developmental coordination disorder (includes poor handwriting)
  • Expressive language disorder
  • Reading disorder
  • ADHD




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.




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.




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.




Kelly DP, Natale MJ. Neurodevelopmental function and dysfunction in the school-age child. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics . 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 32.

Szklut SE, Philibert DB. Learning disabilities and developmental coordination disorder. In: Umphred DA, Burton GU, Lazaro RT, Roller ML, eds. Umphred's Neurological Rehabilitation . 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2013:chap 14.



        Review Date: 11/12/2016

        Reviewed By: Jennifer K. Mannheim, ARNP, Medical Staff, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, Seattle Children's Hospital, 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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