Disorder of Written Expression


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Disorder of written expression stems from childhood and is manifested by inadequate writing skills. Generally, statistics reveal that 3% to 10% of school-age children show symptoms of disorder of written expression and this disorder appears on its own or is associated with other developmental disability. To assess a child with disorder of written expression, it is necessary for the child to undergo oral, written language test and early written language test.

These are just a few names of tests that are conducted and there are other language tests also to detect a child’s incapacity of learning diligently. Other anomalies associated with disorder of written expression are dyslexic, development of coordination, poor mathematic performance and reading skills below average. Disorder of written expression is a learning disability where the individual’s ability to communicate in writing is much below standard in comparison to the normal expected level.

This is based on the child’s age, intelligence, life experiences, educational background or physical impairments. This disability manifests itself in both the physical reproduction of letters and words and the organization of thoughts and ideas in written composition. The causes of disorder of written expression are yet unknown since the specific causes have not been determined as yet. The disabilities are expressed in diverse ways like a child being unable to form letters accurately on a page or inability to write words from memory or dictation implying having deficits in visual memory.

Some of the common symptoms of disorder of written expression are tendency of the child to skip written words, committing grammatical or spelling errors, having poor handwriting, misuse of punctuation marks and having poor composition skills in contrast to oral expression skills. However, such a disability is not confined to childhood only as it is known to persist even up to adulthood. The symptoms should be evaluated in context of the person’s age, intelligence, educational attainment and cultural or life experience.

Normally, several symptoms are present simultaneously. Several studies have estimated that it is difficult to separate disorder of written expression from other learning disabilities. There are no known specific tests for the diagnosis of disorder of written expression. Unfortunately, the disability remains undetected till the afflicted child attains 8 years of age. From 4th or 5th grade the disability gets noticed when and if the teacher detects multiple symptoms of the disorder in a child’s writing. However, using standardized tests does not work by itself.

A qualified evaluator is required to compare multiple samples of the student’s written work with the normally expected work from students of comparable background. There are no specific remedial measures since disorder of written expression occurs in conjunction with other learning disabilities. Little is known about the long term outcome of those people who are diagnosed with writing disorder. However, it has been noted that adults with poor written expression develop low self esteem and have social problem related to the lack of academic achievement.


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