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Common Warning Signs of Dysgraphia in College Students and Adults

Dysgraphia Warning Signs - College and AdultsHave you always had a difficult time with writing – the physical act of using a pen and pencil during writing or conveying your ideas in written formats? Or, do you know someone who might struggle with written expression? If so, you’ll want to know about a learning disability (LD) called Dysgraphia, a specific learning disability that affects writing.

Most people struggle with some aspect of learning at times, but learning disabilities such as dysgraphia persist over time. If you’ve struggled with several of the challenges described below for at least the past six months, it may be time to seek help from a professional. Dysgraphia affects people differently at different ages and challenges will depend on the nature and complexity of the writing task. For that reason, be sure to think back about writing-related challenges you’ve struggled with over the years.

Some of the writing-related difficulties listed below also apply to other types of learning disabilities and/or to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) LD and ADHD often co-exist, so you may want to review our more comprehensive Interactive Learning Disabilities Checklist to better identify your specific concerns.

For At Least the Past Six Months, I’ve Had Trouble


  • Gripping a pencil comfortably when writing or drawing.
  • Writing neatly, evenly and legibly.
  • Spelling even familiar words correctly.
  • Using correct syntax structure and grammar.
  • Expressing my written ideas in an organized way.
  • Preparing outlines and organizing written work.
  • Transferring into writing the ideas and understanding I easily convey when speaking.
  • Thinking of words to write and then remembering to write them down.
  • Keeping track of words I’ve already written.
  • Focusing on the meaning of what I write; the act of writing drains my mental energy.
  • Maintaining energy and comfortable posture when writing.


  • Aligning numbers correctly when doing math problems or manual accounting calculations.


  • Feeling motivated and confident about writing.
  • Taking pride in my written work.
  • Responding appropriately to teasing or criticism by peers, instructors, and supervisors who don’t understand “messy, incomplete and disorganized” writing.

If you regularly struggle with several of these warning signs (and you may have struggled with them for years), seek help now! There are strategies and technological tools that can be helpful to those with dysgraphia. Print out this article, check off the warning signs that describe you, and take the list to the professional(s) who you consult. The good news is that with proper identification and support, you’ll be better able to succeed in college, the workplace and in life. The self-knowledge you gain may bring you great hope and relief—and restore the self-confidence about writing you’ve lacked for years!

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Tags: college-adult