Written Expression Disorder

What is written expression disorder?

Written expression disorder means that your child’s ability to communicate in writing is much poorer than average for his age, intelligence, and education. This disorder is not common. It is not written expression disorder if your child just has a hard time with spelling or has poor handwriting.

What is the cause?

The cause of this disorder is not known. Like other learning disorders, it tends to run in families. It may also be tied to damage in certain parts of the brain.

It is more common in boys than girls.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include:

  • Writing slowly and having poor handwriting
  • Mixing up printing and writing, and shapes of letters
  • Making grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes
  • Leaving out words or letters in sentences and paragraphs
  • Holding the pen or pencil very tight
  • Having trouble putting thoughts on paper
  • Talking to himself while writing

Parents or teachers usually notice problems early in grade school. Do not wait to see if a problem goes away by itself. Your child may miss many months of helpful therapy.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history and examine your child. Your child will have tests to check for hearing and vision problems or other medical conditions.

Your child may be referred to a specialist. The specialist will look at writing samples and test scores, and talk with you, your child, and your child’s teachers. The specialist will then advise you about a treatment plan.

How is it treated?

The treatment for this disorder is to spend extra time practicing writing skills at home and at school.

Some children may find it easier to use text-to-speech tools that allow them to speak and have a computer program type their words. Others may find it easier to use a keyboard than to write on paper. Talk with your child’s healthcare provider about this.

Most school districts have special programs to help children with learning disorders. Find out what services are offered through the school district to help children who have a hard time with math.

By high school, some children will have improved their skills and will no longer have a hard time writing. Teens who continue to struggle may limit their career choices. It is very important to get treatment for your child as early as possible.

How can I help my child?

  • Find out what services are offered through your school district or community to help improve writing skills.
  • Ask your child’s teacher if your child can have more time for work which involves handwriting.
  • Learn as much as you can about your child’s disorder, its symptoms, and ways to treat it. Most libraries and bookstores have books on learning disorders.
  • Spend time outside of school on writing exercises.
  • Look for your child’s strengths. No one knows what your child may be able to do in time, so don’t set your expectations too low. Encourage your child to try new things.
  • Be patient with your child. Praise your child for his efforts and for any improvement, however small.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-11-24
Last reviewed: 2014-11-24
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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