What is Disorder of Written Expression?

Disorder of Written Expression (DWE) is a learning disorder that affects an individual’s ability to write fluently and clearly. It can make writing a daunting task, resulting in poor written communication skills, difficulty in expressing thoughts and ideas, and low academic performance. This disorder is also known as written expression disorder or dysgraphia.


Individuals with DWE struggle with specific traits of writing. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Difficulty in organizing ideas while writing
  • Syntax errors or grammatical mistakes
  • Poor handwriting
  • Difficulty in spelling and punctuating words
  • Difficulty in expressing thoughts coherently in writing


The exact cause of DWE remains unknown, but various factors may contribute to its development. These factors are:

  • Genetic factors – it’s believed that certain genes may contribute to the disorder
  • Brain structure and function – individuals with DWE tend to have poorly developed language-related areas in the brain responsible for writing and language development
  • Environmental factors – a history of inadequate writing instruction, exposure to lead or mercury, and prenatal exposure to alcohol or drugs may also contribute to DWE


The diagnosis of written expression disorder is typically made by a psychologist or a neuropsychologist. To make a diagnosis, the clinician may:

  • Conduct an interview with the individual and their family members
  • Administer standardized tests to evaluate the individual’s writing capabilities
  • Observe the individual’s writing skills in everyday situations


There is no one size fits all treatment for DWE. Treatment is typically tailored to the individual’s specific needs and symptoms. Some of the treatments include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral interventions – this involves training the individual to use strategies such as visualization and planning to organize their thoughts before writing
  • Occupational therapy – this treatment focuses on developing the muscles and fine motor skills needed for proper handwriting
  • Dyslexia therapy – this therapy helps individuals with DWE improve their reading and spelling capabilities


Individuals with DWE can benefit from accommodations that help them cope with their writing difficulties. Some of these accommodations include:

  • Use of computers and other technology tools to help with writing
  • Extended time on writing assessments
  • Use of spell-checking software and grammar checkers
  • Use of a scribe or a computer program that can translate spoken language into written text
  • Typing instead of handwriting


The exact cause of DWE is unknown, and there are no guaranteed ways to prevent it. However, parents and educators can help prevent written expression disorder by:

  • Providing early reading and writing instruction
  • Offering regular practice to develop writing skills
  • Encouraging hand strengthening exercises for better handwriting
  • Providing assistive technology tools to make writing easier


Disorder of Written Expression is a learning disorder that affects an individual’s ability to write fluently and clearly. It is essential to identify the signs of DWE early on so that individuals can receive the appropriate diagnosis and treatment. While there is no guaranteed way to prevent DWE, parents and educators can help reduce its prevalence by providing early instruction and help to those struggling with writing.


What are the symptoms of Disorder Of Written Expression?

Some of the symptoms of Disorder Of Written Expression include inconsistencies in spelling, grammar, and punctuation, difficulty organizing thoughts, and difficulty in writing letters and numbers. Children may have trouble with handwriting, and their written work may appear messy and unorganized. This disorder can make it challenging for children to express themselves accurately in written form.

When should I seek help for my child with Disorder Of Written Expression?

It is important to seek help for your child with Disorder Of Written Expression if you notice that they are struggling with any of the symptoms mentioned above. Early intervention can be very helpful in managing the disorder, and can help prevent it from affecting your child’s progress in school. You can speak to your child’s teacher or a school psychologist to determine whether your child needs to be evaluated further for the disorder.

What treatment options are available for Disorder Of Written Expression?

The treatment for Disorder Of Written Expression typically involves working with a speech-language pathologist or an occupational therapist who specializes in helping children with writing difficulties. Treatment may include activities aimed at improving handwriting, spelling, and grammar, as well as strategies to help children organize their thoughts and ideas before writing. Children with the disorder may also benefit from assistive technology, such as voice recognition software, to help them express themselves in written form.


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