How to Diagnose Dysgraphia

Updated April 17, 2017

Dysgraphia is a learning disability which affects someone's writing. Children with the disorder can frequently go undiagnosed because parents and teachers often know little about the disorder. Common characteristics of someone with dysgraphia include a poor handwriting style and messy presentation. Sequencing and perceptual problems with letters and words are typical of a person with dysgraphia.

Inspect the handwriting of the person who might have dysgraphia as it will often be messy. People with dysgraphia can experience motor difficulties and can find it hard to use a pen or pencil to write legibly.

Assess the general grammar and sentence construction. For instance, someone with dysgraphia probably finds it difficult to punctuate or spell correctly. Another possible clue in diagnosis is if the person mixes up capital letters and lower case letters. For instance, someone with dysgraphia might write: "Today I went to the park."

Time someone who you think might have dysgraphia. Anyone with this learning difficulty probably finds writing tasks problematic and will tend to complete them slowly and, sometimes, reluctantly.

Look at the range of vocabulary used by the person who might have dysgraphia. If the person's vocabulary when talking is wide but restricted in his writing then this could be another sign that dysgraphia is present.

Identify whether the person with suspected dysgraphia has problems with copying work accurately and legibly. If so, this could be another indication.


Avoid labelling someone with dysgraphia just because of messy handwriting. This is one characteristic of the disorder but many people have illegible handwriting and they do not have dysgraphia.

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About the Author

Based on the south coast of the U.K., Sally Nash has been writing since 1988. Her articles have appeared in everything from "Hairdressers Journal" to "Optician." She has also been published in national newspapers such as the "Financial Times." Nash holds a Master of Arts in creative writing from Manchester Metropolitan University.