Dysgraphia: It’s More Than Bad Handwriting

Dysgraphia is indicated by labored, irregular, inadequate writing that impacts academic performance. Accommodations and therapy can result in adequate written communication.

If a student has sloppy writing, but is capable of neat writing, this is not a learning disability. Disability is indicated when a student is incapable of producing well-formed, regularly spaced and positioned, appropriately ordered symbols and words, in a reasonable framework and time.

Dysgraphia Signs:

(a) difficulty gripping, holding, guiding, or controlling writing instruments;

(b) difficulty recreating the shape of characters and words;

(c ) slow, labored writing;

(d) distressed, jagged, irregular, sometimes illegible output;

(e) difficulty drawing and copying;

(f) drifted, poorly aligned, spaced and positioned characters;

(g) poor coordination and posture for writing (to hold & angle paper, while writing).

Consequences of dysgraphia:

(a) unable to show what you know;

(b) writes the minimum;

(c ) writing avoidance;

(d) writing tasks are stressful and anxiety-provoking;

(e) incomplete work;

(f) can’t express ideas in the time allotted;

(g) can’t write at expected speed;

(h) can’t express the quantity and quality of ideas;

(i) writing fatigue;

(j) poor spelling.

Other Problems with Dysgraphia:

(a) left-right confusion;

(b) uncoordinated for tying shoes, buttoning, throwing, catching, drawing;

(c ) visual-spatial-directional confusion - gets lost easily, has trouble locating things, difficulty with maps, dislikes puzzles; dislikes upclose work. Figure-Ground difficulty.


(a) Occupational Therapy - employs ergonomic strategies and tools like posture assistance; pencil grips; supported writing instruments; wrist weights; raised-line, embossed, highlighted, and color-cued paper; directional cues; slant boards and aides to angle and secure paper;

(b) Visual Therapy - works to improve eye teaming, VIP (visual info processing) and to correct inefficiencies in visual perception, focus, attention, tracking, spatial awareness, and visual memory; and may include colored or prism lenses to assist with visual processing.


(a) Digital writing programs with voice-to-text, word prediction, graphic organizers, clipart, timelines, mind mapping, editing, and publishing features;

(b) Record dictated answers to questions and send recording to teacher and yourself;

(c ) Scan worksheets to PDF and type answers on PDF in PDF Editor;

(d) Digital editions of textbooks have chapter reviews, practice, and tests;

(e) Take picture of the chalkboard; (f) Teacher supplies notes;

(g) Take a picture of paper and type on the pic in an image editing program, then save image and email to teacher and self;

(h) Scribe or parapro in classroom.

Dysgraphia White paper. Dysgraphia (penmanship disability), a paper by Renee M. Hamilton-Newman, 1998.

Click on the file attached to the bottom of this web page (Edu563.pdf).


Recipe for Writing & Spelling (2007), $60. Orton-Gilingham-based, Phonics & Spelling Patterns.

Home-School Exercises to Help with Handwriting, Sensory Discrimination & Related Difficulties

Daily-5 Games to Develop Key Skills

Fix Deficits by Acquiring Essential Skills for Learning