Written expression disorder

Alternative names 
Disorder of written expression

Disorder of written expression is a childhood condition characterized by poor writing skills.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Three to 10 percent of school-age children are affected by this disorder to some extent. Children with disorder of written expression have trouble with spelling, make frequent errors in punctuation and grammar, and have poor handwriting.

This disorder appears by itself or in conjunction with other learning disabilities. Other disabilities often linked with the disorder of written expression include the following:

  • Reading disorder  
  • Expressive language disorder  
  • Mathematics disorder  
  • Developmental coordination disorder


  • Poor spelling  
  • Errors in grammar  
  • Errors in punctuation  
  • Poor handwriting

Signs and tests
Other causes of learning disabilities will need to be ruled out before the diagnosis can be confirmed.

Remedial education is the best approach to this type of disorder.

Expectations (prognosis)
The degree of recovery depends on the severity of the disorder. Marked improvement is often seen after treatment.


  • Problems with socialization  
  • Learning problems  
  • Low self-esteem

Calling your health care provider
Parents who are concerned about their child’s language ability should have the child tested by educational professionals.

Learning disorders often run in families. Affected or potentially affected families should make every effort to recognize problems early. Intervention can begin as early as preschool or kindergarten.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 8, 2012
by Brenda A. Kuper, M.D.

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