Page 1: Definition, characteristics, and causes of written expression difficulties


What is writing?

Writing is a form of communication that allows students to put their feelings and ideas on paper, to organize their knowledge and beliefs into convincing arguments, and to convey meaning through well-constructed text. In its most advanced form, written expression can be as vivid as a work of art. As children learn the steps of writing, and as they build new skills upon old, writing evolves from the first simple sentences to elaborate stories and essays. Spelling, vocabulary, grammar, and organization come together and grow together to help the student demonstrate more advanced writing skills each year.

What is a writing disability?

This union of skills, however, is a very complex process, and there are few for whom these skills evolve easily. When mastery of these skills becomes an overwhelming obstacle for children, they are often diagnosed with a learning disability in written expression. Sometimes this is due to a lack of skills in a certain area, which can be due to the way the brain translates language. Often, but not always, a child with a disability in written expression will have similar difficulties with reading and/or oral language.

This disability looks different in every child, but the student will commonly have difficulty with spelling, punctuation, capitalization and learning basic grammar rules early on. As the child moves through the elementary school years and the demands placed on the student become more complex, different difficulties such as planning, organization, editing, and revising will often become apparent.

Learning to write is a linear process, and the tackling of new skill depends upon mastering the skills that came before it. Early struggles with basic skills become magnified and more problematic as academic tasks become more challenging. Writing becomes a chore for these children, and they will often try to avoid it at all costs. However, there are several things that teachers can do to support the learning of the writing skills that will help their students believe that they, too, can be writing experts!


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Page 2: Classroom-based accommodations and interventions for written expression difficulties

Page 3: Handout for parents describing written expression problems and web resources

Page 4: Resources for written expression difficulties