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Dyslexia and Dysgraphia: What’s the Connection?

Translation: “I want it to be upstairs. I want it to have garage and a basement and a pond and dogs and a dirt bike for my son and a pool and a king-sized bed and without (guns?) and I have a convertible.”

Dysgraphia is a language-literacy disability that can be diagnosed and treated.

A Greek term that means, literally, difficulty (dys) writing (graph), dysgraphia pertains mainly to writing by hand (as opposed to keyboarding).

Professor Virginia W. Berninger, whose research has included studies on writing and written language, refers to handwriting as “language by hand” to stress that it involves not only the visible motor processes of letter formation and spacing, but also the less-visible processes of spelling and of sentence and discourse formulation. Writing by hand is one of the most demanding language tasks; it is no wonder that people with language disorders struggle with it.

Dysgraphia is often related to other problems such as difficulty with spelling and written expression, dyslexia and even oral expression. Since handwriting skills require memory for the movement path for each letter as well as for how letters connect, children with working memory and/or attention deficits can have difficulty mastering handwriting skills. Dyslexic children, whose difficulties begin with speech sound awareness, typically have difficulty with the fluent and unconscious association of phonemes (speech sounds) to graphemes (letter symbols).

Dysgraphia diagnosis and treatment should be based upon a comprehensive language processing evaluation. Just as with dyslexia, treatment for children with dysgraphia must be individualized, planned and explicit — a structured literacy approach. Early intervention is most cost effective, but it is never too late to improve writing skills, nor to provide appropriate accommodations.

To learn more about dysgraphia, see the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) fact sheet, Understanding Dysgraphia. To learn more about handwriting, tune in to the free Lexercise Live Broadcast, “In Appreciation of Handwriting,” on Thursday, December 6, 2012. Click for details.

Lexercise online therapy includes writing exercises on letter formation, spelling, writing sentences from dictation, formulating sentences, organizing paragraphs and essay writing. If you have concerns about your child’s ability to read, write or spell, Lexercise can help. Take a look at our Online Dyslexia Testing and Treatment page or contact me directly at or 1-919-747-4557.
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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.