Difficulty Writing: Does Your Child Have Dysgraphia?

Dec 11, 2023
Difficulty Writing: Does Your Child Have Dysgraphia?
Does your child struggle with written assignments? When they write, their letters, words, and sentences may be close to indecipherable. Your child could have dysgraphia, a disorder that affects the writing process.

Does your child have a hard time coloring within the lines compared to others their age? If your child is in school, do they struggle with writing tasks? By third grade, if they need to write several sentences at once, do they balk or get upset and cry? 

Difficulty with writing is a learning disorder called dysgraphia. When your child has a learning disorder, they need some special help. We provide that help. 

Board-certified pediatric neurologist Dr. Charles Niesen and our team at AMS Neurology in Pasadena, California, test your child to determine whether they have a learning disorder or other neurological difference. Dr. Niesen coordinates with occupational therapists who also evaluate your child’s writing ability. 

Symptoms of dysgraphia 

Following are some common symptoms of dysgraphia. 

Trouble forming the shapes of letters/unintelligible handwriting 

Does your kindergartener’s writing appear as “chicken scratch”? Perhaps you’ve seen examples of some other classmates’ writing and noticed a significant difference. Your child’s letters may be crooked. Some letters may be really large, with very small letters next to them. 

Your child may have trouble forming each letter and might place lines in the wrong place. Sometimes their writing is unintelligible. These are common signs of dysgraphia. It’s hard to watch your child struggle with a task so needed for school. 

Trouble spacing letters and words on wide-lined paper 

Does your early elementary child have great difficulty keeping words and letters in a straight line on the wide-lined paper used in the classroom? Perhaps your child isn’t able to space each letter an equal distance from those around it, with some letters compressed while others have wide spaces between them. This plus other symptoms may lead to a diagnosis of dysgraphia. 

Tight pencil grip and writing fatigue/frustration

Do you notice your child gripping their pencil with all their might? Perhaps they break the graphite sometimes. Maybe the teacher tells you that your child is getting up frequently to use the pencil sharpener. 

Does the teacher tell you your child can’t seem to complete writing tasks at school? They may become distracted, upset, or even disruptive. Your child may have great ideas but difficulty putting them on paper. All of these signs are symptoms of dysgraphia. 

Treatment for dysgraphia 

It’s important to get the help your child needs early in their school career. If Dr. Niesen determines your child has dysgraphia, he provides a diagnosis contained in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) which may be called developmental coordination disorder or specific learning disorder with impairment in written expression. This official diagnosis helps your child receive special services. 

Dr. Niesen makes a plan for your child’s treatment which could include occupational therapy, recommendations for modifications of school assignments, and various types of assistance from your child’s school. 

Call our office at AMS Neurology or book an appointment online today if your child struggles with written expression. We’re here to help your child thrive.