Many with Autism Have Dysgraphia, But What Is It, Exactly?

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People with autism often surprise others in the most delightful and interesting of ways. But other times, their behaviors may be confusing, odd, or even dangerous.

Dysgraphia is just one of many disorders that are often seen comorbidly in people who have autism or other intellectual disorders and disabilities. It can also appear in people who do not have autism or an intellectual disability. The difficulties associated with it probably seem strange to those who don’t have it, and they could be very frustrating those who do have it. But knowing more about it can help you figure out what to do to help someone with autism and dysgraphia learn to cope better with daily life.

What is dysgraphia?

The term “dysgraphia” refers to the inability or difficulty of writing, particularly after the point at which the individual is old enough and has had enough practice that writing should by now be much easier than it is. Dysgraphia affects people of all ages and occurs when the brain knows what it wants to write and how to write, but it has difficulty communicating the individual required steps with the hands.

People with dysgraphia often find themselves having to put huge amounts of effort and concentration into their writing. They may write very slowly and struggle with poor handwriting, including issues with the size, spacing, alignment, or overall legibility of their letters. They may also leave some letters unfinished or mix upper- and lowercase letters in their writing. The problem generally continues even as the individual ages, unaffected by additional hours of writing instruction and practice.

Dysgraphia should not be confused with dyspraxia, which is a similar condition involving an issue with communication between the brain and the body, resulting in poor balance, lack of coordination, an inability to properly form sounds and spoken words, and a deficiency in motor skills.

Dysgraphia is common in people with ADHD and autism, but it is also more prevalent than previously thought in the general population. Nearly 60 percent of people who have autism are also believed to have dysgraphia. However, it is often thought to simply be poor handwriting and left undiagnosed.


Click “next” below to learn more about why dysgraphia occurs and the different types of dysgraphia.

Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?
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