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Definition and symptoms

Definition and prerequisites

Writing Difficulties can be language based (Dysorthographia), and/or non-language based (Dysgraphia). Non-language based Dysgraphia is caused by difficulties in performing the controlled fine motor skills necessary to write.

Dysgraphia is a specific learning disability that affects written expression in speed and quality of the feature.

Dysgraphia is a neuropsychological disorder that generally appears when children are first learning to write.

Writing includes a sequence of movements and writing prerequisites are a complex set of motor and information processing skills.


General prerequisites are:

  • General dynamic coordination: Segmental or global movements of the body based on a sensory-motor interaction determine the ability to learn to differentiate/integrate and automate movements in a fast, balanced, smooth way designed for a particular purpose.

  • Balance

  • Postural Control

  • Lateralization


Specific prerequisites are:

  • Dynamic coordination of arms

  • Gross and fine eye-hand coordination

  • Fine motor skills: Luria talks about “complex movements” that are produced and “performed as a single kinetic melody”; “…the development of motor skills the individual impulses are synthesized and combined into integral kinesthetic structures or kinetic melodies” (Luria, 1973).

  • Space-time orientation and organization

  • Visual perception and analisys

  • Short and long term memory


It is important, in order to express correctly the idea of the words in mind, to control hands and fingers’ muscles.



Symptoms can be divided into different categories:


General signs

  • illegible printing and cursive writing

  • mixtures of print and cursive, upper and lower case

  • irregular sizes, shapes or slant of letters

  • omitted letters and words

  • copying, tracing or writing is slow or labored (no automatic task)

  • difficulties in thinking and writing at the same time and getting ideas down on paper quickly

  • gap between written ideas and understanding demonstrated through speech.

  • trouble in reading his own writing

  • avoidance of writing or writing not in complete sentences but in a list format

  • frequent erasures


Visual-Spatial Difficulties

  • difficulties with shape-discrimination and letter spacing

  • irregular spaces between words and letters

  • chaotic spatial planning on paper (writing not in line and inside margins)

  • troubled organization of words on the page from left to right

  • difficulties in drawing or reproducing lines and shapes


Fine Motor Difficulties

  • strange position of wrist, body or paper

  • unusual grip

  • tired or cramped hand

  • difficulties to hold pencil/pen correctly

  • difficulties in tracing, cutting food, tying shoes, doing puzzles, texting and keyboarding, using scissors, coloring inside lines


Visual Motor difficulties

  • difficulty to pre-visualize letter formation