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Dyslexia Vs. Dysgraphia

Dyslexia and dysgraphia are two learning disabilities that can significantly impact an individual's ability to acquire and express language effectively. While they both fall under the broader category of specific learning disabilities, they manifest in distinct ways and affect different aspects of learning. Folks often use the terms interchangeably and sometimes students are misdiagnosed for one or the other. Read on to get a better sense of these and which one your student might have.

Core Similarities

1. Learning Disabilities: Both dyslexia and dysgraphia are neurological conditions categorized as specific learning disabilities. They are not indicative of intelligence levels but rather affect how individuals process language-related information.

2. Impact on Academic Performance: Individuals with dyslexia and dysgraphia struggle academically, particularly in areas such as reading, writing, spelling, and sometimes even math. Handwriting is impacted the most in dysgraphia, though there are dyslexic writers with poor handwriting. These difficulties can persist despite adequate instruction and intellectual ability.

3. Underlying Neurological Basis: Both conditions stem from differences in brain structure and function.

Core Differences

1. Primary Manifestations: Dyslexia primarily affects reading fluency and comprehension. Individuals with dyslexia may have trouble recognizing words, decoding text, and understanding the meaning of what they read. Dysgraphia, on the other hand, primarily affects writing abilities, including handwriting legibility, spelling accuracy, and the organization of written language. Often, the dysgraphic writer cannot sequence their ideas on the paper and struggles to express in writing, while dyslexic writers struggle more with spelling.

2. Symptoms and Presentation: Dyslexia symptoms often include difficulties with phonemic awareness, rapid naming, spelling, and reading fluency. For a deeper dive into the symptoms of dyslexia, read this article. In contrast, dysgraphia symptoms may involve messy handwriting, inconsistent spelling, trouble with grammar and punctuation, and difficulty expressing thoughts coherently in writing.

3. Treatment Approaches: While interventions for both dyslexia and dysgraphia typically involve specialized instruction tailored to the individual's needs, the specific strategies may differ. Dyslexia interventions often focus on phonics instruction, multisensory learning techniques, and reading comprehension strategies. Intervention is best with an evidence-based program that is designed to help dyslexic student. Dysgraphia interventions may emphasize handwriting practice, keyboarding skills, spelling strategies, and assistive technology to support written expression. Emphasis on highly organizing writing and teaching writing more explicitly is also used.

4. Associated Challenges: Dyslexia may co-occur with other learning disabilities, such as dyscalculia (difficulty with math) or ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder). Dysgraphia may also coexist with conditions like dyslexia or ADHD but is more commonly associated with fine motor skill deficits or language processing difficulties.

In conclusion, while dyslexia and dysgraphia share some similarities as specific learning disabilities affecting language acquisition and expression, they have distinct characteristics and manifestations. Understanding these differences is crucial for educators, parents, and individuals affected by these conditions to provide appropriate support and interventions to optimize learning and academic success.


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