Dysgraphia is a learning disability 

When you go back to its Greek roots, it’s a combination of ‘dys’ meaning difficulty and ‘graph’ meaning to write – so it’s literally difficulty writing.

More specifically, dysgraphia is thought of as coming in two types: motor-based dysgraphia, which means difficulty with the mechanics of writing, ie holding a pen or pencil properly; and language-based dysgraphia, which affects the ability to process ideas and get the sequence right when writing. Language-based dysgraphia can occur for a wide range of reasons and is a complex one to cover in a short factsheet. Here, we will just focus on motor-based dysgraphia.

Dysgraphia is often present along with dyslexia.

How dysgraphia can look to others

Indications of motor-based dysgraphia can include:

  • slow, laboured and illegible writing

  • anxiety when faced with a task that requires writing

  • inconsistent writing, such as mixing capital and lower-case letters, or an unusual spacing of letters

  • poor spatial planning on paper.

People who have dysgraphia have trouble with their writing skills in comparison to other people who are the same age, have the same experience and the same intelligence.

Life with dysgraphia

For people who have dysgraphia, assistive technology is a real boon. With computers and speech to text technology, the need to use handwriting can be minimised, allowing them to achieve their potential.

Learn more about dysgraphia, assistive technology and how you can help to provide a supportive environment at work and school in our other factsheets and at www.deardyslexic.com.

Download What is Dysgraphia Factsheet

Reviewed by Dr. Nola Firth, Honorary Research Fellow: The University of Melbourne and Centre for Adolescent Health, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.