Hey Teachers! I Have Dysgraphia!

"Supposing is good, but finding out is better." - Mark Twain


Dysgraphia: What is it?

Dysgraphia is a neurological disorder that manifests itself as the inability to write. According to the NIND, it
usually becomes apparent when the individual is introduced to writing. Both adult and child onset can be
related to brain trauma, however, an exact cause is unknown.

Reading Rockets: Understanding Dysgraphia by International Dyslexia Association

Causes of Dysgraphia:
According to Dyslexia A2Z website there is no definitive cause, but damage to the motor system or a language

Types of Dysgraphia:

Types of Dysgraphia
Written Text
Oral Spelling
Finger Tapping

Also mentioned: phonological and visual dysgraphia

Signs and Symptoms from the Learning Disabilities Association of America

  • illegible printing and cursive
  • inconsistencies of print and cursive, upper and lower case, or irregular sizes
  • unfinished words/letters, omitted words
  • inconsistent spacing
  • strange wrist, body, or paper position
  • pre-visualizing letter formation is poor
  • copying or writing is slow or labored
  • poor spatial planning on paper
  • cramped grip
  • much difficulty thinking and writing at the same time

Characteristics of Dysgraphia:

Checklist for Dysgraphia:
    • Poor motor control.
    • Writing that is almost impossible to read.
    • Mixture of printing and cursive writing on the same line.
    • Writes in all directions, i.e. right slant then left slant.
    • Big and small spaces between words.
    • Different sized letters on the same line.
    • Mixes up capital letters and lower case letters on the same line.
    • Abnormal and irregular formation of letters.
    • Very slow writing.
    • Very slow copying from board.
    • Does not follow margins.
    • Grips the pen too tight and with a ‘fist grip’.
    • Holds pen very low down so fingers almost touches the paper.
    • Watches hand intently whilst actually writing.
    • Poor spelling.
    • Bizarre spelling.
    • Problems with spelling wrong words i.e., ‘brot’ for brought and ‘stayshun’ for station.
    • Problems with spelling words such as i.e. drink as ‘brink’.


1. Posture - Slouching or sitting on knees is not allowed. Students should be seated on their bottom.
2. Pivot - Fix the elbow in place as if it were a solid point of reference encouraging only movement from the elbow down
3. Grip - Grip the pencil but not too tightly. If the writer's fingers begin to discolor, the pencil is being gripped too tightly
4. Position the paper - The arm/wrist/hand needs to move with the lines of the paper horizontally, left to right.
5. Pull Not Push -
6. Stop and Think -


1. Sit at a table or desk in front of the paper without a pencil and move the paper back and forth training the hand and eyes to work together.
2. Make letters out of playdough to reinforce the fine motor skills it takes to form letter of the alphabet.
3. Position the paper in front of the student.

Practice Activities (from the Dyslexia Lady - Dyslexia A2Z Blog):

1. Practice letter shape and formation of letters in sand/salt trays (or kitty litter).
2. Use colored pens or chalk on black/white board.
3. Copying shapes and patterns.
4. Using a spirograph to practice writing.
5. Tracing objects back to home.
6. Coloring in mosaics or paint by number helps to build fine motor skills.
7. Coloring in doylies.
8. Juggling
9. Swimming
10. Jigsaw puzzles

Hand Strengthening (from the Dyslexia Lady - Dyslexia A2Z Blog):

1. Squeeze balls
2. Play tennis

Other Suggestions for Skill Development (from the Dyslexia Lady - Dyslexia A2Z Blog):

1. Space organization
2. Directional awareness
3. Sequencing

Teaching Modalities and/or Methods:

1. Multisensory Teaching
2. Assistive Technologies

Famous People With Dysgraphia:

Albert Enstein
George S. Patton
Henry Winkler

Professional Learning Communities for Teachers:

1. Twitter Dyslexia Lady
2. Facebook Dyslexia Lady

Where Do You Look For Help?


Learning Disabilities Association of America

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Dyslexia A2Z


Dyslexia and Other Learning Difficulties by Maria Chivers

The Source For Dyslexia and Dysgraphia by Regina G. Richards

Dysgraphia: Why Johnny Can't Write by Diane Walton Cavey


Touch, Type, Read, and Spell


Dyslexia A2Z Blog

Bonnie Terry's Blog

Videos (dysgraphia, dyslexia and ADHD):

Dyslexia A2Z