Dysgraphia Definition

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary lists the dysgraphia definition as the “impairment of the ability to write caused by brain damage”. Pronounced (dĭs-grăf’ē-ə) this noun is described this way in most dictionaries. One dictionary even said it was otherwise known as “writer’s cramp”. To state the dysgraphia definition that way really does belittle its veracity and doesn’t really illustrate an image of the typical person with dysgraphia.

The best definitions or explanations of dysgraphia come from people who’ve worked intimately with the issue. Drs. David Cowell and Maria Chivers have been quoted as saying, ‘Dysgraphia means having severe problems with the written word, which is affected by extreme difficulty with fine-motor skills – in spite of having normal intelligence and ability’. That last part is crucial to understanding it.

Intelligence can not fight a brain problem that is affecting motor skills. Dysgraphia is just not about laziness, writer’s cramp, lack of studying or lack of initiative. It’s another learning disability that stems from an information processing problem in the brain.

Poor handwriting doesn’t mean you suffer from dysgraphia, but it is surely a symptom of it. Unfortunately, there is no cure for it, and it does not appear to be caused by just one thing. In plain English dysgraphia is a disruption of information between the brain and the fine motor skills of the hand. It is a neurological disorder that affects that flow of information.

People with dysgraphia are known to have issues with other things, like shoe tying, that also require fine motor skills. Since many people suffer from poor handwriting, people affected by dysgraphia often have to look at other tasks requiring the same skills to identify the pattern.

For instance a tight and awkward grip on the pen or pencil is sign, as is shying away from drawing or doodling. Sometimes dysgraphia sufferers will say words out loud as they write, or will instinctively prefer the keyboard over the pen. There really is not single set of symptoms that would constitute a dysgraphia definition.

What makes dysgraphia so difficult is its onset during youth. Since so much of school requires reading and writing, the inability to write well is an impediment to learning and thus is appropriately named a learning disability. Furthermore, it’s difficult to diagnose until after it’s already created problems at school.

Dysgraphia is not a life set-back, it’s merely a speed bump that doesn’t have to cause much stress.

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Dr. Linda


To get fun activities that help kids with writing, pick up a free copy of my Dysgraphia Toolkit: How Singing, Playing Games and Other Fun Activities Can Help Defeat Writing Disabilities.

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