Many individuals with dyslexia or learning disabilities think that writing comes easily for others, but this is not the case. Writing is a complex process. Even great writers need to work at it. They draft, edit, and re-write many times until they are satisfied with the final copy. This is more than the ability to form letters and words (although it is that). It is about pencil grip, structuring and organising writing, and making that writing comprehensible, focused, and meaningful. There are many executive functions involved in good writing.

Countries where Writing is assessed

When refer to the word “writing” it makes you feel like you know the path you need to follow to get it moving. But is this a rule of thought commonly attributed to all people? Does writing have particularities or is it understood in the same way? Writing is a very complex process that is seen through everyone’s eyes but practiced differently. Assessing the definition of writing given by the English Club it can be noticed that “writing” is the process of using symbols (letters of the alphabet, punctuation, and spaces) to communicate thoughts and ideas in a readable form.

But what are the influences of writing on the dyslexia side? Many individuals with dyslexia experience writing difficulty in multiple areas. This is not surprising, as reading is theorised to be a central component of writing in some cognitive models of writing development (e.g., Graham, 2018; Hayes, 1996).

Guiding factors in the process of identifying writing problems – ‘’Writing window’’
A)      Specific learning difficulties with language, reading and spellingB)      Vision or visual processing – acuity visual field, visual tracking
C)      Cognition – learning and/or comprehensionD)      Physical causes such as poor coordination, pencil grip, seating and/or positioning

The writing difficulties of children with dyslexia can be partially attributed to their reading difficulties and can manifest in many ways in their writing, such as poor spelling, lack of diverse vocabulary, poor idea development, and/or lack of organization. (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6430506/)

Dyslexics often have difficulty identifying the sounds (phonemes) in words. Effective writing intervention is predicated on a thorough assessment. The conventions and the process of writing need to be taught explicitly. With good instruction, dyslexics can enjoy writing and become confident, prolific writers.

But why do dyslexics often struggle with writing?

Because they have difficulty when:

–          identifying sounds

–          spelling words

Dyslexia and writing difficulties co-occur for two overarching reasons

  2)Reading is a subskill required

 throughout the writing process.

1)Reading and writing rely on related underlying processes (Graham & Hebert, 2010, 2011)

Orthographic and phonological processing resume the writing

Orthographic Processing is the ability to mentally recognise, create, store, and retrieve the visual representation of written words in an accurate manner.

Phonological processing is the use of the sounds of one’s language (i.e., phonemes) to process spoken and written language (Wagner & Torgesen, 1987).

Keep in mind

As explained in the ‘’Applied Learning Processes’’ when orthographic processing is affected, it shows some “symptoms”:

  • difficulty retaining sight words
  • spelling words as they sound rather than as they should look (srkoll for circle)
  • guessing on simple words like ‘it’ and ‘on’
  • reversing letters (b vs. d)
  • reversing the order of letters (from vs. form)
  • sounding out every word, even irregular sight words (of, was, light)
  • unwillingness to attempt reading aloud due to reduced fluency (“spit-and-grunt” decoding)
  • underdeveloped writing due to fewer words to access from visual memory

For dyslexics, the inability to write normally leads to frustration, stress, and lack of motivation to continue learning. The skills involved in the ‘’writing technique’’ are varied and different from one dyslexic person to another. Therefore, both basic and professional support are needed and the process of measuring, diagnosing, and evaluating dyslexia must be accurate and tailored to specific needs.

Good writing skills require

All the writing components operate in working memory and require considerable resources and attention and more working memory space and resources are available for self-regulation strategies such as goal setting, planning, monitoring, and revising. (Berninger et al., 2002).

Dyslexia weakens spelling skills, even when the child presents no motor problems. By varying the degree of difficulty in words to spell the impact of spelling process disorders on handwriting should be assessed. Often, such individuals are wrongly identified as “dysgraphic”, a condition in which mechanical difficulties affect handwriting. Inaccurate diagnosis results in ineffective treatment therapies and can lead to discouragement in the child.

In the assessment of dyslexia, writing is a ‘’driver factor’’ because dyslexia is a learning difficulty which affects the ability to adopt the automatic reflexes needed to read and write. The findings of a study published in the November 2017 edition of Cognitive Neuropsychology demonstrated that orthographic processing in children with dyslexia is so laborious that it can modify or impair writing skills, despite the absence of dysgraphia in these children.

When assessing the words written by a child with dyslexia it is very important to identify the differences taken from real and practical cases.

Table 1. © Sonia Kandel, GIPSA-Lab (CNRS/Université Grenoble Alpes/Grenoble INP).

The word “regard” written by a child with dyslexia Above: Black lines show what the child actually wrote on the page; grey lines, recorded by the tablet, show in-air movements when the child paused. This example shows that the child started to write; stopped, then continued. The result is an irregularly produced word which presents a spelling mistake at the end. Below: Evolution in speed over time. Grey lines show in-air movements recorded by the tablet.

Table 2. © Sonia Kandel, GIPSA-Lab (CNRS/Université Grenoble Alpes/Grenoble INP).

The word “cuvette” written by a child with dyslexia. The child had serious difficulties with the double “t” in this word. Black lines show what the child actually wrote on the page; grey lines, recorded by the tablet, show in-air movements when the child paused. Blue squares indicate that the child lifted his or her head to look at the spelling of the word on the computer screen.


Keep in mind

      When a child/adult has difficulty visualising letter symbols in the mind’s eye, reading and spelling become extremely challenging, even when he has strong phonological processing for letter sounds. He will not retain the information long term and must relearn it over and over again.

       Children with weak orthographic processing will rely heavily on sounding out very common words that should be in memory, leading to a choppy, halting style of decoding sometimes called “spit-and-grunt” decoding. They will likely confuse simple words like ‘it’ and ‘on’ and may not be able to apply their knowledge of root words to decode a variation of the word.

(Source: https://appliedlearningprocesses.com/what-we-do/reading-and-spelling/orthographic-processing/)

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