Dyslexia and Dysgraphia: Same or Different?

two right hands showing the letters d and b to represent dyslexia and dysgraphia

What is Dyslexia? 

The International Dyslexia Association and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) define dyslexia as “a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.” In essence, dyslexia is a neurological condition causing difficulty reading, writing, and spelling words.  Dyslexia is a prevalent condition, affecting about 20% of people.1


Handwriting Example Dysgraphia
handwriting example of dysgraphia

What is Dysgraphia?

Dysgraphia is another language-literacy disability that can be diagnosed and treated. It comes from a Greek term that means, literally, difficulty (dys) writing (graph). Dysgraphia pertains mainly to writing by hand (as opposed to keyboarding).



Identifying Dyslexia and Dysgraphia

Below you will find some of the common signs of dyslexia and dysgraphia. 

Signs of Dyslexia

Difficulty with:

  • Consistent pronunciation of some words
  • Learning letter names and their sounds
  • Guessing at words instead of sounding them out
  • Blending a sequence of sounds to pronounce a word
  • Reading aloud
  • Reading fluently enough to comprehend
  • Completing longer reading assignments
  • Spelling
  • Learning a foreign language

Signs of Dysgraphia

Difficulty with:

  • Forming letters consistently and legibly (especially lowercase letters) 
  • Illegible and/or slow handwriting
  • Copying letters, numbers and words
  • Spacing words and sentences on the page
  • Random, inaccurate use of uppercase and lowercase letters
  • Spelling
  • Formulating grammatical sentences
  • Using sentence punctuation
  • Organizing and completing writing assignments

If your child is exhibiting any of these signs and you would like to learn more about how we can help, you can contact us on this page or take one of our free tests here.


Graphic of connection between Dyslexia and DysgraphicWhat is the Connection Between Dyslexia and Dysgraphia?

Dysgraphia typically involves difficulty with handwriting, spelling, and sentence formulation. Dyslexia and dysgraphia often occur together.  Writing requires memory for the movement path for each letter as well as for spelling, sentence formulation, and sequencing ideas so children with working memory and/or attention deficits can have particular difficulty with writing skills. Dyslexia and dysgraphia are both neurological language-based disorders, and they often overlap. In both disorders spelling is a particular weakness. Both language disorders can occur by themselves or in conjunction with other difficulties.


Treating Dysgraphia and/or Dyslexia

Dyslexia and dysgraphia are often genetic and, while they cannot be “cured” they can both be overcome using structured literacy methods. 

The International Dyslexia Association lists the instructional elements that are effective for overcoming dyslexia.2

  • Explicit – directly and clearly explaining  how and why words are pronounced and spelled as they are 
  • Systematic and Cumulative – having a definite, logical sequence of concept introduction and concept review
  • Structured – having  clear, step-by-step procedures for introducing, reviewing, and practicing concepts
  • Multisensory – engaging attention using more than one sense (e.g., visual, auditory, kinesthetic)   
  • Emotionally Sound – recognizing and managing the anxiety, fatigue and negativity that can accompany learning struggles

The Lexercise Structured Literacy Curriculum™ follows these guidelines to help struggling readers and writers, including those with dyslexia and dysgraphia, meet their academic potential. If you think your child may be dyslexic or dysgraphic and you want to get them effective help please call us at 1-919-747-4557 or get started with our free dyslexia screener or our dysgraphia test.

1 What Is Specific Learning Disorder? American Psychiatric Association

2 International Dyslexia Association Fact Sheets: Effective Reading Instruction and Dyslexia Basics

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Sandie Barrie Blackley, MA/CCC

MA/CCC - Cofounder and CKO

Sandie is a speech-language pathologist with more than 30 years of experience in the private practice sector. She is Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders at University of North Carolina Greensboro, and founder/owner of the Language & Learning Clinic, PLLC, a private practice in Elkin, NC, and Greensboro, NC, specializing in communication disorders, including disorders of reading and written language.