Dysgraphia is a disorder that affects people’s ability to write, mostly the handwriting. Usually it overlaps with other learning disorders like attention deficit disorder, speech impairment or developmental coordination disorder.
In DSM – 5 the disorder of written expression appears as 315.2 (F81.81) “Specific Learning Disorder With impairment in written expression”. According to the DSM – 5 the diagnosis requires the difficulty with the handwriting to be present 6 months or more. If the patient is 17 years or older a documented history of the writing impairment could be substituted for the standard assessment.
In the act of writing there are two stages the MEP stage (motor expressive praxic stage) and the linguistic stage. The linguistic stage comes first and in that stage the visual and auditory information is encoded into written symbols like letters and written words.
Some people with dysgraphia can do well with writing at a certain level but might have problems other fine motor skills like tying shoe laces. Most often people with dysgraphia will have problems with the letters b, d, p and q. Many times they lack spelling and grammar skill or write the wrong words.
Dysgraphia might be accompanied by attention deficit disorder, dyslexia or other learning disabilities.
There are 3 important types of dysgraphia: dyslexic, motor and spatial.
In the case of dyslexic dysgraphia people’s spelling is poor and their spontaneous writing is illegible but their copied work is pretty good. The normal finger tapping of the people with dyslexic dysgraphia indicates the deficit does not stem from cerebellar damage.
The causes of motor dysgraphia are poor dexterity, deficient motor skills or poor muscle tone. People with motor dysgraphia need very much time and a huge effort to form letters. The writing in this case is illegible or poor at its best and drawing is difficult. The finger tapping of these people is below normal and though the spelling is normal. Many times the writing is slanted because of holding the pen incorrectly.
People with spatial dysgraphia have a problem understanding the space. Both their spontaneous work and copied work will be illegible in most cases and their abilities to write suffer as well. This disability is not fine motor based as the finger tapping sped and the spelling is normal in people with spatial dysgraphia.
Many times people with dysgraphia are labeled as lazy, not caring or unmotivated. Also many times the symptoms are overlooked or attributed to visual-motor processing delay.
Most common symptoms might include: unfinished letters, misuse of lines and margins, excessive erasures, inefficient speed of copying, frequent need of verbal cues, poor legibility, inconsistent form and size of letters, referring heavily on vision to write, odd arm, paper, wrist or body orientation, mixed upper case and lower case letters or having a hard time translating ideas to writing.
Because people have a hard time understanding what they write students with dysgraphia suffer from emotional trauma.
Nowadays it might not be a problem anymore as computers and smart phones help people replace handwriting. It is often recommended by doctors to avoid any more problems. Sometimes the treatment might include treatment for motor disorders.
If you have any writing problem you might have to see a doctor but with the today technology you might not need handwriting anymore.