Written language disorder is a common problem

By Tom Nordlie • Published: August 7th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

It’s no secret that learning to write is one of the biggest challenges children face.

Mastering the written word requires memorization, fine motor coordination and lots of practice.

What’s not so well-known is that there’s a recognized learning disability associated with poor writing skills.

It’s called written language disorder.

The condition is characterized by writing performance that’s unexpectedly bad, considering the child’s age, intelligence and prior education.

Its cause is unknown.

Written language disorder hasn’t been studied much. But an article published recently in the journal Pediatrics estimated how often it occurs.

In the study, researchers examined school and medical records for more than fifty-seven-hundred Minnesota children born between 1976 and 1982.

Then they evaluated each child, with three formulas used to identify written language disorder.

Between seven percent and fifteen percent of the children were affected, depending on the formula used.

These results suggest written language disorder is at least as common as reading disabilities.

In a related finding, about three-quarters of the kids with written language disorder suffered from reading disabilities, too. And boys were two to three times as likely as girls to have written language disorder.

Researchers weren’t sure why there was a gender disparity. They recommended assessing risk factors, treatment options and life outcomes related to the condition.

So for parents, the handwriting is on the wall.

If your child has unusually bad penmanship or trouble with note-taking or written expression, consider having a doctor evaluate the situation.

That’s the “write” choice to make.