Sara Rosenblum

Handwriting still serves as the most immediate form of graphic communication, despite the expanding use of technology. Skilled handwriting is essential for school-aged children. This skill allows them to write within a reasonable amount of time and to create a readable product through which thoughts and ideas can be communicated

Children typically acquire skillful handwriting performance during the first three years of school. With this skill they are able to automatically write a legible product while keeping in line with the expected time demands of the class schedule. Though, previous research has established that a large number of children do not yet write automatically by this age. These children are either diagnosed with dysgraphia or need to cope with ongoing difficulties with handwriting. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.; DSM–5) dysgraphia is coded as a "Specific Learning Disorder with impairment in written expression" . However, no specific diagnosis criteria are provided. The current study followed Hamstra-Bletz and Blote's definition that describes dysgraphia as a disturbance or difficulty in the production of written language related to the mechanics of writing. The inadequate handwriting performance is seen among children who have at least an average intelligence level and who have not been diagnosed with any apparent neurological or perceptual-motor difficulties.


Dysgraphia is caused by a language disorder and may be characterised by the person having difficulty converting the sounds of language into written form (phonemes into graphemes), or knowing which alternate spelling to use for each sound. A person with dysgraphia may write their letters in reverse, have trouble recalling how letters are formed, or when to use lower- or upper-case letters. A person with dysgraphia may struggle to form written sentences with correct grammar and punctuation, with common problems including omitting words, words ordered incorrectly, incorrect verb and pronoun usage and word ending errors. People with dysgraphia may speak more easily and fluently than they write.

Age of Diagnosis

Dysgraphia is not typically diagnosed until a child is school-aged. While letter formation and other types of motoric dysgraphia can be diagnosed at the age of five or six years old, some diagnostic tools, such as the norm-referenced Test of Written Language (TOWL-4), are only appropriate for students nine years of age or older, since they will have had more experience with writing instruction and the complexities of written language.


Although dysgraphia introduces learning difficulties, these can be mitigated, and there are also positives to accompany the challenges, including the following:

  • Although they may experience frustration, children with dysgraphia do not typically experience social problems.
  • Students with dysgraphia typically do not have other fine motor difficulties, so they can perform activities such as capably play instruments, tie shoes, and type.
  • Assistive technology can help students with dysgraphia with everything from easing the motoric burden of writing to teaching writing mechanics.

For concerns we recommend speaking with your Paediatrician or for further information please visit: https://dyslexiaassociation.org.au/

Useful links

Special thanks to Australian Dyslexia Association for content sharing and linking to provide further information and direction for families with any concerns. 

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Disclaimer: This publication by Miracle Babies Foundation is intended solely for general education and assistance and it is it is not medical advice or a healthcare recommendation. It should not be used for the purpose of medical diagnosis or treatment for any individual condition. This publication has been developed by our Parent Advisory Team (all who are parents of premature and sick babies) and has been reviewed and approved by a Clinical Advisory Team. This publication is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Miracle Babies Foundation recommends that professional medical advice and services be sought out from a qualified healthcare provider familiar with your personal circumstances.To the extent permitted by law, Miracle Babies Foundation excludes and disclaims any liability of any kind (directly or indirectly arising) to any reader of this publication who acts or does not act in reliance wholly or partly on the content of this general publication. If you would like to provide any feedback on the information please email [email protected].