Dyslexia and Dysgraphia: What’s the Connection?

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).

Handwriting Example Dysgraphia

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 or to provide appropriate accommodations.

To learn more about dysgraphia, see the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) fact sheet, Understanding Dysgraphia. To learn more about handwriting, watch our Live Broadcast, “In Appreciation of Handwriting“.

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 Dysgraphia Testing  page or contact us at Info@Lexercise.com or 1-919-747-4557.

8 Responses to Dyslexia and Dysgraphia: What’s the Connection?

  • Don Terrell commented

    Ms Blackley
    I enjoyed your article on Dysgrahpia. I am trying to find peer reviewed scholarly articles from 2012 to present on Dysgrahpia with little luck/results. If you know of a good source, meeting this criteria, or if you have such articles that you could email me I would be most appreciative.

    Thank You

    • Don,
      The research on dysgraphia is VERY sparse. A Google Scholar search for developmental dysgraphia returns 596 results but the vast majority are not peer reviewed and many are not even research studies. Here is an article on the neural correlates of dysgraphia that may be of interest.

      Research on treatment for dysgraphia is especially lacking. Much of it has been funded by companies that sell handwriting products.

      We are looking for a university partner interested in doing a controlled research study on the use of Chancery Script with children diagnosed with developmental dysgraphia as we see a lot of success with that approach. If you know of researchers who may be interested I think we can help them locate willing subjects to participate in a trial.

      Thanks for your interest!

      Sandie Barrie Blackley, MA/CCC
      Co-Founder, Lexercise.com

  • Sandra Ledwith commented

    My 9 year old son has both dyslexia and dysgraphia. I have had such a hard time finding any truly helpful information on Dysgraphia. We live on the Kansas side of Kansas City and would love to know if anyone in the general area is doing any research on dysgraphia.

    Thank you,
    Sandra Ledwith

    • Sandra,
      Dyslexia and dysgraphia often co-occur, and recent neuroscience is explaining why. In addition, it is providing insights in to how treatment for dyslexia and dysgraphia should be integrated. This is dramatically improving treatment outcomes for both dyslexia and dysgraphia.

      For example, we now understand how the brain’s literacy network is interconnected for reading, spelling and writing. This explains why some children have persistent difficulty with reversing letters when reading as well as when writing. We teach letters as movement paths (as opposed to static shapes like balls and sticks). Our clinicians use a Chancery Script approach to handwriting, with a focus on the movement path for each letter. See The Rationale for a Movement Path Approach to Handwriting This and other applications of modern neuroscience have allowed us to reduce the treatment time for dyslexia and/or dysgraphia from what use to take years to what now takes just months.

      Since we do this using teletherapy we can work with families no matter where they live.

      If you want to lean more give us a call. 888-603-1788

  • chinmay commented

    I have dyslexia as well as dysgraphia.I have lots of fights in school and beat up everybody.I get angry really fast etc.what does that mean
    Am I adhd also?

    • Chinmay,
      Struggling with dyslexia and dysgraphia can be exhausting and frustrating. Lot’s of kids who are not getting the right kind of help naturally feel angry and on edge and sometimes that leads to fighting and other troubles. Can you have your mom or dad call us? There is something you can do about this! We’d be happy to help if we can.

  • stephanie brown commented

    My 7 year old was just diagnosed with dyslexia and dysgraphia. Looking for treatment options. We live in Charlotte NC.

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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.