Dysgraphia is best defined as a neurodevelopmental disorder manifested by illegible and/or inefficient handwriting due to difficulty with letter formation. This difficulty is the result of deficits in graphomotor function (hand movements used for writing) and/or storing and retrieving orthographic codes (letter forms) (Berninger, 2015).

Secondary consequences may include problems with spelling and written expression. The difficulty is not solely due to lack of instruction and is not associated with other developmental or neurological conditions that involve motor impairment.

The characteristics of dysgraphia include the following:

  • Variably shaped and poorly formed letters
  • Excessive erasures and cross-outs
  • Poor spacing between letters and words
  • Letter and number reversals beyond early stages of writing
  • Awkward, inconsistent pencil grip
  • Heavy pressure and hand fatigue
  • Slow writing and copying with legible or illegible handwriting (Andrews & Lombardino, 2014)
Additional consequences of dysgraphia may also include:

Difficulty with unedited written spelling and low volume of written output as well as problems with other aspects of written expression.

Dysgraphia is not:
• Evidence of a damaged motor nervous system
• Part of a developmental disability that has fine motor deficits (e.g., intellectual disability, autism, cerebral palsy)
• Secondary to a medical condition (e.g., meningitis, significant head trauma, brain trauma)
• Association with generalized developmental motor or coordination difficulties (Developmental Coordination Disorder)
• Impaired spelling or written expression with typical handwriting (legibility and rate) (Berninger, 2004)

Dysgraphia can be due to:
• Impaired feedback the brain is receiving from the fingers
• Weaknesses using visual processing to coordinate hand movement and organize the use of space
• Problems with motor planning and sequencing
• Difficulty with storage and retrieval of letter forms (Levine, 1999)

Instruction for Students with Dysgraphia

For some students identified with dysgraphia, short-term, intensive instruction may be appropriate to address his or her needs. The instruction will include the following components:
  • Writing readiness
  • Automatic letter recognition
  • Handwriting
  • Spelling patterns and rules
  • Spelling practice


CCISD Dysgraphia Informational Brochure
Understanding Dysgraphia (IDA Fact Sheet)
8 Tools for Kids with Dysgraphia (Understood)
Strategies for Dealing with Dysgraphia (LD Online)
Dysgraphia Accommodations and Modifications (AdLIt)

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