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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 with other learning disabilities, such as:

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




Symptoms may include:

  • Errors in grammar and punctuation
  • Poor handwriting
  • Poor spelling
  • Poorly organized writing
  • The need 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 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.




Grajo LC, Guzman J, Szklut SE, Philibert DB. Learning disabilities and developmental coordination disorder. In: Lazaro RT, Rienna-Guerra SG, Quiben MU, eds. Umphred's Neurological Rehabilitation. 7th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2020:chap 12.

Kelly DP, Natale MJ. Neurodevelopmental and executive function and dysfunction. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 48.

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        Review Date: 10/31/2022

        Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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