• Dysgraphia is related to dyslexia as both are language-based disorders. In dyslexia, the impairment is with word-level skills (decoding, word identification, spelling). Dysgraphia is a written language disorder in serial production of strokes to form a handwritten letter. This involves not only motor skills but also language skills—finding, retrieving and producing letters, which is a subword-level language skill. The impaired handwriting may interfere with spelling and/or composing, but individuals with only dysgraphia do not have difficulty with reading (Berninger, Richards, & Abbott, 2015).


    The characteristics of dysgraphia include the following:

    • Variably shaped and poorly formed letters

    • Excessive erasures and cross-outs

    • Poor spacing between letters and words

    • Letter and number reversals beyond early stages of writing

    • Awkward, inconsistent pencil grip

    • Heavy pressure and hand fatigue

    • Slow writing and copying with legible or illegible handwriting (Andrews & Lombardino, 2014) 61


    Additional consequences of dysgraphia may also include:

    • Difficulty with unedited written spelling

    • Low volume of written output as well as problems with other aspects of written expression


    Dysgraphia Symptoms, Symptoms of Dysgraphia, Learning Disability

    Data Gathering

    Schools collect data on all students to ensure that instruction is appropriate and scientifically based. Essential components of comprehensive literacy instruction, including writing, as explicit instruction in writing, including opportunities for children to write with clear purposes, with critical reasoning appropriate to the topic and purpose, and with specific instruction and feedback from instructional staff. 

    Cumulative Data

    https://www.bishopcisd.net/cms/lib2/TX02218767/Centricity/Domain/33/image_40709035931674423624228.pngThe academic history of each student will provide the school with the cumulative data needed to ensure that underachievement in a student suspected of having dysgraphia is not due to lack of appropriate instruction in handwriting, spelling, and written expression. This information should include data that demonstrate that the student was provided appropriate instruction and include data-based documentation of repeated evaluations of achievement at reasonable intervals (progress monitoring), reflecting formal evaluation of student progress during instruction. This cumulative data also include information from parents/guardians. Sources and examples of cumulative data are provided in Figure 5.1.


    Formal Evaluation

    Formal evaluation includes both formal and informal data. All data will be used to determine whether the student demonstrates a pattern of evidence for dysgraphia.

    Academic Skills

    • Letter formation

    • Handwriting

    • Word/sentence dictation (timed and untimed)

    • Copying of text

    • Written expression

    • Spelling

    • Writing fluency (both accuracy and fluency)

    Cognitive Processes

    • Memory for letter or symbol sequences (orthographic processing) Possible Additional Areas

    • Phonological awareness

    • Phonological memory

    • Working memory

    • Letter retrieval

    • Letter matching

    Possible Additional Areas

    • Phonological awareness

    • Phonological memory

    • Working memory

     • Letter retrieval

    • Letter matching

    Dysgraphia Identification

    If the student’s difficulties are unexpected in relation to other abilities, the ARD committee must then determine if the student has dysgraphia. The list of questions below must be considered when making a determination regarding dysgraphia:

    • Do the data show the following characteristics and consequences of dysgraphia?

    • Illegible and/or inefficient handwriting with variably shaped and poorly formed letters Difficulty with unedited written spelling

    • Low volume of written output as well as problems with other aspects of written expression

    • Do these difficulties (typically) result from a deficit in graphomotor function (hand movements used for writing) and/or storing and retrieving orthographic codes (letter forms)?

    • Are these difficulties unexpected for the student’s age in relation to the student’s other abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction?

    If the student with dysgraphia is found eligible for special education, the student’s IEP must include appropriate writing instruction, which might include instruction from a related services provider.

    If the student is identified with dysgraphia but is not considered a student with a disability under the IDEA (because the student does not need specially designed instruction), then the student may receive appropriate accommodations and services under Section 504. Students are protected under Section 504 if the physical or mental impairment (dysgraphia) substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as the specific activity of writing. Additionally, the Section 504 committee, in determining whether a student has a disability that substantially limits the student in a major life activity (writing), must not consider the ameliorating effects of any mitigating measures that student is using. Revision of the Section 504 Plan will occur as the student’s response to instruction and to the use of accommodations, if any, is observed. Changes in instruction and/or accommodations must be supported by current data (e.g., classroom performance and dyslexia program monitoring).


    Dysgraphia Instruction

    Bishop CISD uses critical, evidence-based components of dysgraphia instruction through Reading by Design

    Delivery of Intervention The way the content is delivered should be consistent with the principles of effective intervention for students with dysgraphia including the following:

    Simultaneous, multisensory (VAKT) — “Teaching is done using all learning pathways in the brain (visual, auditory, kinesthetic-tactile) simultaneously in order to enhance memory and learning” (Birsh, 2018, p. 19). “Children are actively engaged in learning language concepts and other information, often by using their hands, arms, mouths, eyes, and whole bodies while learning” (Moats & Dakin, 2008, p. 58).

    Systematic and cumulative — “Multisensory language instruction requires that the organization of material follow order of the language. The sequence must begin with the easiest concepts and most basic elements and progress methodically to more difficult material. Each step must also be based on [elements] already learned. Concepts taught must be systematically reviewed to strengthen memory” (Birsh, 2018, p. 19). 71

    • Explicit instruction — “Explicit instruction is explained and demonstrated by the teacher one language and print concept at a time, rather than left to discovery through incidental encounters with information. Poor readers do not learn that print represents speech simply from exposure to books or print” (Moats & Dakin, 2008, p. 58). Explicit Instruction is “an approach that involves direct instruction: The teacher demonstrates the task and provides guided practice with immediate corrective feedback before the student attempts the task independently” (Mather & Wendling, 2012, p. 326).

    Diagnostic teaching to automaticity — “The teacher must be adept at prescriptive or individualized teaching. The teaching plan is based on careful and [continual] assessment of the individual's needs. The content presented must be mastered to the degree of automaticity” (Birsh, 2018, p. 27). “This teacher knowledge is essential for guiding the content and emphasis of instruction for the individual student” (Moats & Dakin, 2008, p. 58). “When a reading skill becomes automatic (direct access without conscious awareness), it is performed quickly in an efficient manner” (Berninger & Wolf, 2009, p. 70).

    Classroom Accommodations

    Accommodations are changes to materials, actions, or techniques, including the use of technology, that enable students with disabilities to participate meaningfully in grade-level or course instruction.

    Listed below are examples of reasonable classroom accommodations for a student with dysgraphia:

    • Allow more time for written tasks including note taking, copying, and tests

    • Reduce the length requirements of written assignments

    • Provide copies of notes or assign a note taking buddy to assist with filling in missing information

    • Allow the student to audio record important assignments and/or take oral tests

    • Assist student with developing logical steps to complete a writing assignment instead of all at once

    • Allow the use of technology (e.g., speech to text software, etc.)

    • Allow the student to use cursive or manuscript, whichever is most legible and efficient

    • Allow the student to use graph paper for math, or to turn lined paper sideways, to help with lining up columns of numbers

    • Offer an alternative to a written project such as an oral report, dramatic presentation, or visual media project