Written expression disorder is a learning disorder in which a child's ability to communicate in writing is much poorer than average for his or her age, intelligence, and education. It is also called dysgraphia. This disorder is not common. It occurs about 3 times more often in boys than girls.
The cause of this disorder is not known. Like other learning disorders, it occurs more in some families. It may also be tied to damage in certain parts of the brain.
The symptoms listed below must all be present for a child to be diagnosed with written expression disorder. If you child just has a hard time with spelling and poor handwriting, he or she does not have this disorder.
A child with disorder of written expression:
The symptoms of this disorder are usually noticed in first or second grade, when your child first starts writing. Your healthcare provider will ask about your child's symptoms and do a physical exam. Your child will have tests to rule out hearing and vision problems or other medical conditions.
Your child may be referred to a professional qualified to assess learning disorders. This professional will look at several types of writing your child has done. Your child will be evaluated to see if there are other problems such as ADHD or other learning disabilities. A psychiatrist may evaluate your child to see if medicine might help. The diagnosis is made based on the writing samples, test scores, information from teachers, and the information you and your child provide. The professional will then talk to you about a treatment plan.
The treatment for this disorder consists of practicing writing skills and spending extra time on them at home and at school. Public schools are required to have special classes for children with learning disorders. Parents can be a part of treatment by helping their child work on these skills at home.
An important part of treatment for a child with disorder of written expression is increasing self-esteem through support and encouragement from family members, friends, and teachers. Praise your child for his or her efforts and for any gains, however small, in writing skills.
This disorder rarely goes away on its own without treatment. Most children benefit from having a professional develop a plan for him or her.
Working on writing skills can help many children overcome this disorder. Those whose writing skills don't improve may find that their career choices as adults are limited.