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Dysgraphia Special Needs Factsheet

What Teachers Should Know

Regardless of their reading ability, people with dysgraphia have difficulty writing, and may have problems with spelling, writing legibly, or putting their thoughts on paper.

Kids and teens with dysgraphia may have:

  • poor fine-motor skills
  • visual-spacial difficulties
  • language-processing deficits

Students with dysgraphia may:

  • frequently misspell words or incorrectly place words on a page
  • have an exceptionally slow and difficult time writing
  • have an awkward pencil grip
  • have messy or illegible handwriting
  • have trouble taking notes or tests or completing their schoolwork
  • avoid writing and become extremely frustrated with schoolwork

What Teachers Can Do

If you think a student might have dysgraphia, recommend seeking an educational evaluation to a parent or guardian, an administrator, or a school counselor.

Writing is one of the most important keys to academic success. Give students with dysgraphia plenty of extra time to practice their writing skills. Teach them how to organize their thoughts and encourage them to edit and proofread their work.

If students continue to struggle with handwriting, try:

  • using graph paper, wide-ruled paper, or paper with raised lines
  • allowing students with dysgraphia to choose the writing utensils they are most comfortable with
  • making sure the pencil is properly positioned, using a tripod grasp, which means the pencil should rest near the base of the thumb and be held in place with the thumb, index, and middle fingers (certain kinds of pencil grips can be helpful, too)
  • modifying the writing utensil grip as needed
  • recommending occupational therapy to help with writing skills

Additional accommodations may be necessary, including:

  • giving more time to complete tests and written assignments
  • allowing for oral and visual assessments of knowledge
  • using assistive technology, such as word processing and note-taking software

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: January 2014