Problems with Handwriting or Expressive Writing
Dysgraphia means “difficulty with writing.” Usually the term describes a difficulty with handwriting, either with printing or cursive. Sometimes this stems from physical or neurological issues unrelated to dyslexia.
Some children may have difficulty with small-motor coordination that stems from other developmental causes, or from physical difficulties, which make it very hard for them to properly grasp a writing implement or coordinate their movements. These children may benefit from occupational therapy.
The term dysgraphia is also sometimes used to describe an expressive writing disorder: a difficulty putting thoughts to words when writing. Children with this sort of difficulty will find any sort of written composition to be a laborious process and may have great difficulty constructing sentences and paragraphs in a grammatical or logical format.
Children's writer Avi has dysgraphia. He has difficulty with writing and spelling. As a child, his teachers told him that his writing didn't make sense, and he failed most of his courses in high school. He still finds writing difficult and needs to rewrite frequently. Nonetheless, he grew up to become a prolific writer and the author of dozens of award-winning children's books.
When associated with dyslexia, dysgraphia is a reflection of underlying difficulties with written language. Some common symptoms are:
Fingers are cramped when grasping pencil or pen, or child uses unusual grip.
Written work is marred by frequent cross-outs or erasures.
Writing is inconsistent, with a mixture of upper and lower case letters, printed and cursive, variation in size of letters, or irregular formation and slant.
Child has difficulty keeping writing on lines or within margins.
Child writes very slowly and is easily fatigued.
Handwriting is illegible.
Students with dysgraphia often have sequencing problems. Symptoms that appear to be a perceptual problem (reversing letters/numbers, writing words backwards, writing letters out of order, and very sloppy handwriting) can also be directly related to sequential/rational information processing.
Can a child who is a good reader also have dyslexia?
Yes. Occasionally, a child is able to overcome or avoid issues with reading but will still have an array of related symptoms. Usually, such a child is extremely bright with a strong visual memory, allowing her to develop good sight reading skills despite having characteristic difficulty with phonetics. The dyslexia may become apparent because of problems with productive writing or spelling.