Understanding Dysgraphia: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment Options

By Dr. Manoj Khanal in Neurosciences , Interventional Neurology , Neurology

Dec 28 , 2023 | 5 min read

What is Dysgraphia? 

Dysgraphia is a neurological condition that hinders a person's ability to create legible letters in their writing. This disorder can affect both children and adults, and individuals with dysgraphia may also struggle with choosing the right words to express their thoughts.

Is Dysgraphia a Form of Dyslexia?

Dyslexia and dysgraphia are two separate neurological conditions that can be easily mixed up due to their overlapping symptoms. Moreover, they can also coexist in an individual.

Dyslexia primarily affects reading abilities. Those with dyslexia might read at a slower pace, have difficulty identifying words, and face challenges breaking words into sounds or associating letters with their corresponding sounds, leading to reading levels that might be below expectations.

On the other hand, dysgraphia is related to challenges in writing. This can manifest as problems with the physical act of writing, or with the organisation and articulation of thoughts in a written format.

Types of Dysgraphia

The common dysgraphia types are:

  • Motor Dysgraphia: Some people struggle with their hand movements when they write. This makes their handwriting messy, and they get tired quickly when writing. However, their spelling is usually fine when they type.
  • Spatial Dysgraphia: This is when people have trouble with how they space out their letters and words on paper. They might need help keeping everything neat and within the margins. But their spelling is usually okay.
  • Dyslexic Dysgraphia: People with this type of dysgraphia have handwriting that's easy to read, but often make spelling mistakes. This is often connected to dyslexia, which is a reading difficulty. When they copy text, their writing is neat and accurate.
  • Phonological Dysgraphia: Individuals with this type of dysgraphia find it hard to spell words they're not familiar with or words that are made up. However, they can usually spell words they already know correctly.
  • Lexical Dysgraphia: Individuals with lexical dysgraphia struggle to spell irregular words, which are words that don't follow the typical spelling rules. However, they can usually spell regular words and made-up words correctly.

Dysgraphia in Children vs. Adults

Dysgraphia can differ between adults and children

Dysgraphia in Children

Dysgraphia in Adults

Developmental Stage

Often diagnosed in childhood when writing skills are developing.

Can persist from childhood or be acquired due to injuries or conditions.

Coping Mechanisms

Children may use compensatory strategies like typing or speech-to-text.

Adults often have independence to choose and use assistive technologies.

Professional & Academic Implications

Can affect academic performance, may require special education services.

Can pose challenges in the workplace, accommodations may be needed.

Treatment & Intervention

Early intervention such as occupational therapy can be effective.

May focus more on developing compensatory skills and strategies.

Dysgraphia Symptoms

Dysgraphia is often associated with messy handwriting, but not everyone with untidy writing has this condition. Conversely, some people with dysgraphia can write neatly, though it may require significant effort. Common symptoms of dysgraphia include:

  • Mistakes in spelling and capitalization
  • A mix of cursive and printed letters
  • Irregular letter size and spacing
  • Challenges in copying text
  • Slow and painstaking writing
  • Trouble picturing words before penning them
  • Odd hand or body posture during writing
  • Gripping the writing tool too tightly, causing hand discomfort
  • Looking at your hand while writing
  • Verbally repeating words during writing
  • Skipping letters or words in sentences.

It is advisable to consult top dysgraphia doctors in Delhi or elsewhere in India for early detection and prevention of dysgraphia before it worsens. 

Dysgraphia Causes

The exact causes of developmental dysgraphia remain a mystery for scientists and neurologists. Writing involves many parts of the brain, making it a complex activity to study. However, there's a hint that it could run in families, suggesting a genetic link.

Dysgraphia Diagnosis

Diagnosing dysgraphia typically involves a team of experts, which includes a family doctor or paediatrician, an occupational therapist, and a psychologist.

First, the doctor's role is to rule out any other conditions that might be causing writing difficulties. Once other possibilities are eliminated, a psychologist with expertise in learning disorders steps in for the formal diagnosis. This evaluation may include:

  • Academic assessments
  • Evaluations of fine motor skills
  • IQ tests
  • Writing tests involving tasks like sentence composition or word copying

Throughout these assessments, the dysgraphia specialist pays close attention to the individual's pencil grip, hand and body posture, and their writing process. Additionally, they scrutinise the finished writing samples for signs of dysgraphia.

Dysgraphia Treatment

Dysgraphia treatment typically focuses on interventions and strategies to help the individual improve their writing skills, develop compensatory techniques, and minimise the impact of the disorder on academic and daily life. Common treatments and interventions include:

Occupational Therapy

An occupational therapist can help improve fine motor skills and provide strategies for better handwriting. They can also suggest adaptive writing tools, such as pencil grips, which can make writing more comfortable.

Handwriting Practice

Structured and systematic handwriting programs can help individuals with dysgraphia improve the legibility of their writing. Examples include the Handwriting Without Tears program.

Keyboarding Skills

Given the challenges with handwriting, many individuals with dysgraphia benefit from learning touch typing. This can often be a faster and more efficient way for them to produce written work.

Individualised Education Plan (IEP)

In an educational setting, an IEP can be developed to provide accommodations and modifications tailored to the student's specific needs. This might include extended time for assignments, alternative ways of demonstrating knowledge, or access to a scribe.

Behavioural Therapy

Some individuals may benefit from behavioural interventions to address any emotional or psychological aspects of dysgraphia, such as frustration or low self-esteem related to writing difficulties.

It’s recommended to get dysgraphia treatment from the top dysgraphia hospitals in India for the best results.

Dysgraphia prevention

Though dysgraphia cannot be prevented, it can be effectively managed through the adoption of alternative writing strategies. If parents or caregivers observe any initial indicators of dysgraphia in their child, it's imperative to consult with a dysgraphia specialist. If the disorder is confirmed, they may collaborate with the school to create an individualised education plan (IEP) for the child.

Living with dysgraphia

Living with dysgraphia can present challenges, but with the right strategies and support, affected individuals can lead successful and fulfilling lives. Here are some key aspects of living with dysgraphia:

  • Explore various writing tools and technologies, such as speech-to-text software, keyboarding, or using assistive devices, to help with written communication.
  • Learn effective time management techniques to complete tasks efficiently and meet deadlines.
  • Build a strong support network that includes family, friends, teachers, and professionals who understand dysgraphia and can provide guidance and encouragement.
  • Consider working with specialists, such as occupational therapists or educational psychologists, to develop and strengthen writing skills.

When dealing with dysgraphia, timely expert intervention is vital. At Max Hospitals, we place your well-being at the forefront. Our team of seasoned specialists understands the intricacies of dysgraphia and is committed to providing top-notch care tailored to individual needs. If you or a loved one struggles with the symptoms of dysgraphia, talk to our dedicated experts for accurate assessment and holistic intervention. Trust Max Hospitals with your healthcare journey, and let us guide you towards improved confidence, capability, and peace of mind.