Disorder of written expression and dysgraphia: definition, diagnosis, and management

Peter J. Chung, Dilip R. Patel, Iman Nizami


Writing is a complex task that is vital to learning and is usually acquired in the early years of life. ‘Dysgraphia’ and ‘specific learning disorder in written expression’ are terms used to describe those individuals who, despite exposure to adequate instruction, demonstrate writing ability discordant with their cognitive level and age. Dysgraphia can present with different symptoms at different ages. Different theories have been proposed regarding the mechanisms of dysgraphia. Dysgraphia is poorly understood and is often undiagnosed. It has a high rate of co-morbidity with other learning and psychiatric disorders. The diagnosis and treatment of dysgraphia and specific learning disorders typically centers around the educational system; however, the pediatrician can play an important role in surveillance and evaluation of co-morbidity as well as provision of guidance and support.