Disorder of written expression

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Definition

Disorder of written expression is a childhood condition that involves poor writing skills.

Alternative Names

Written expression disorder; Dysgraphia; Specific learning disorder with impairment in written expression

Causes

Specific learning disorder with impairment in written expression is as common as other learning disorders, which is about 5 to 15%.

This disorder appears by itself or along with other learning disabilities, such as:

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Errors in grammar and punctuation
  • Poor handwriting
  • Poor spelling
  • Poorly organized writing

Exams and Tests

Other causes of learning disabilities must be ruled out before the diagnosis can be confirmed.

Treatment

Remedial education is the best approach to this type of disorder.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The degree of recovery depends on the severity of the disorder. Marked improvement is often seen after treatment.

Possible Complications

Complications that may occur include:

  • Learning problems
  • Low self-esteem
  • Problems with socializing

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Parents who are concerned about their child's writing ability should have their child tested by educational professionals.

Prevention

Learning disorders often run in families. Affected or potentially affected families should make every effort to recognize problems early. Intervention can begin as early as preschool or kindergarten.

References

Katusic SK, Colligan RC, Weaver AL, Barbaresi WJ, eds. The Forgotten Learning Disability: Epidemiology of Written-Language Disorder in a Population-Based Birth Cohort (1976-1982). Pediatrics. May 2009; 123:5 1306-1313.

Kelly DP, Natale MJ. Neurodevelopmental function and dysfunction in the school-aged child. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW III, Schor NF, Behrman RE, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 29.

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 11/12/2014
  • Jennifer K. Mannheim, ARNP, Medical Staff, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, Seattle Children's Hospital, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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