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Educators & Students with Learning Disabilities: Dysgraphia

Useful for elementary and secondary administrators, librarians, classroom teachers, and parents and students with Learning Disabilities



Witten langage or fine motor disabilities

A neurologically based writing disorder in which a person has trouble forming letters or writing within a defined space. It can manifest itself as difficulties with spelling, poor handwriting, and trouble putting thoughts on paper. Because writing requires a complex set of motor and information processing skills, saying a student has dysgraphia is not sufficient. A student with disorders in written expression will benefit from specific accommodations in the learning environment, as well as additional practice learning the skills required to be an accomplished writer.

From LD Online

These students benefit from activities that support learning to form letters. Playing with clay, working mazes, connecting dots, tracing letters, working with models. Once legible letters can be formed they then will need practice: Arrow cues for script, imagining letters and word formation, writing from spoken dictation.

As early as possible, these students are greatly relieved when using a keyboard.

Signs of Dysgraphia

Signs of Dysgraphia: Fine Motor Disorders

  • While these students might have trouble writing, they might do other fine motor skills well--drawing, building, playing an instrument.
  • They usually hold a pencil unlike others, either gripping it too hard or the suffer from pain after writing.
  • They can't write "fast enough" to keep up--cursive is very difficult.
  • They are often embarrassed of their written work so they write as little as possible, misleading the reading about their understanding.
  • They can often be faster on a computer, with less fatigue and better self-esteem.

from Levine, All Kinds of Minds, 269


See Misunderstood Minds: Writing Video to experience firsthand what individuals with dysgraphia encounter.

See also the Composition Activity.

Dysgraphia Resources & Accommodations

Dysgraphia Resources & Accommodations


  • Suggest use of word processor
  • Avoid chastising student for sloppy, careless work
  • Use oral exams
  • Allow use of tape recorder for lectures
  • Allow the use of a note taker
  • Provide notes or outlines to reduce the amount of writing required
  • Reduce copying aspects of work (pre-printed math problems)
  • Allow use of wide rule paper and graph paper
  • Suggest use of pencil grips and /or specially designed writing aids
  • Provide alternatives to written assignments (video-taped reports, audio-taped reports)

Excerpted from the LDA of California and UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute "Q.U.I.L.T.S." Calendar 2001-2002