New Issue!

Spring 2017 Issue ADDitude magazine Read the 'ADHD Therapies That Work' issue now!

The New ADDitude Forums Are Live!

Reach our full community by posting to ADDitude's discussion forums here

Parents of ADHD Children

Written expression troubles


My son is six years old and has ADHD and dyspraxia.  I’ve noticed since he’s started school that writing is really, really hard for him.  Not just forming the letters, but organizing his thoughts and actually getting them on paper.  Is this connected to his ADHD or could this be something else?  I’ve noticed a number of children with ADHD have trouble with writing so I’m wondering if there is a connection. I know writing involves a lot of motor planning, which he struggles with, but I’m wondering of it could be a learning disability along th ADHD.



Hi!  There is a disability called dysgraphia.  Sounds like that could perhaps be what is going on.
It can be diagnosed with testing.  We had our testing done via an Independent Educational Evaluation and it was discovered.  Talk to your pediatrician to get recommendations for testing professionals in your area.

Posted by angevanek on Apr 29, 2014 at 10:26pm


I can’t rule out that it could be something else… But my 9 year old son has ADHD, and getting his thoughts from his brain onto paper is incredibly hard for him to do. It helps him to make a list of words that he is going to write about, and expand it into a sentence or paragraph. Google graphic organizer, maybe he could use one of those. It’s not as overwhelming for some kids.

Talk to the teacher, keep communicating and see if you can work on things at school and home.

Good luck!

Posted by csinclair on Apr 29, 2014 at 10:27pm

My son is 8 yr old with ADHD, epilepsy and mild dyslexia.  He’s also ambidextrous.  His writing took a long time to develop, just the mechanics of it.  He never liked coloring as a younger kid and didn’t get a lot of practice with it until he was in school.  He is able to get a sentence down, but only after working hard at it.  It could be part of his ADHD, could be part of his fine motor problems, could be the dyslexia.  But in the end, I don’t really need to know what’s the root cause.  He keeps working on it and he will get there.

Posted by cborn on Apr 29, 2014 at 10:50pm

For organizing thoughts, I have seen great success using graphic organizers from Nancy Fetzer. So long as you stick to using them, they really help.

They are also free.

You can google Nancy Fetzer Graphic Organizer or go to her website.

Posted by Dr. Eric on Apr 29, 2014 at 11:14pm

The first writer hit the nail on the head. My daughter is the same, and she has been diagnosed as having dysgraphia. She has a hard time figuring out how to say what she wants to stay, no matter how many graphic organizers you give her. The 5th grade writing SOLs were her biggest fear. If he has a 504 (if not, get one), you can put things in it like having someone scribe for him during long tests (if it is extensive writing). Also, she had the writing part of the SOL scribed for her. You do need to be diagnosed though. We had it done through all of our neuropsych. testing, but I’m sure there are other ways. Good luck to him and you!


Posted by lmneely on Apr 30, 2014 at 2:41am

Thank you for all pf the responses.  He’s in kindergarten and has an IEP.  He’s reading at a first grade level, but the writing is just killing him.  We had a full neuropsych last year and they didn’t find any sort of learning disability.  I guess I won’t be surprised when he is retested in two years of they find something.

He’s too young for graphic organizers, but I’ve saved the web site for when he is older.  At this point, i write for him and he tells me what to write, but even that is hard.  He has meltdowns at school when he has to do it on his own. It’s hard to hear him come home and tell me he’s stupid and wants to stop going to school because he hates writing!

Posted by Sporty on Apr 30, 2014 at 3:19am

I don’t think there is a single cause. It sounds like a whole lot of things working together to make it really difficult. My son, who is 9, has fine motor deficits, so writing was really hard. In the end, we found that cursive is easier that printing because there isn’t so much lifting of the pencil and replacing it in a new spot.

Line spacing is less of a problem with cursive since you don’t have to put spaces between letters. They all flow together to make one word. Unfortunately, my son is emotionally immature. Since the other kids don’t have to write in cursive, he thinks he is working harder than the printing kids. So, he sometimes gets angry when I ask him to write rather than print.

Finally, I read that the brains of kids with ADHD shut down when it is time to concentrate on a task that the child doesn’t find easy or really interests them. So, that also works against the writing.

In the end, there are several reasons that compound themselves against my son when he is asked to do a writing task. This may also be the case with your son too.

Hope this information is helpful to you.
Sue H in PC, Ohio

Posted by SueH on Apr 30, 2014 at 4:44pm

My son has both dysgraphia and written expression disorder (in addition to his ADHD). I could not get him diagnosed with dysgraphia in first grade (when his teacher and I saw it), nor could we get special ed then. By 3rd grade, he was so far behind his peers in writing, the diagnoses came and we were able to get an IEP at school.

For me, dysgraphia best explains the handwriting portion of the issue, and written expression disorder best explains the difficulty with getting thoughts on paper.

In second grade, my son would come home with writing assignments he wasn’t able to complete in school. I would ask him to tell me his story, then immediately write it down. He told me a wonderfully cohesive and descriptive story, but then freaked out the second I told him to then write it down. He honestly didn’t know where to begin. I learned at that point to scribe for him. It may take a couple years, but an LD diagnosis and accommodations for it will be really helpful.

In 1st grade, my son’s teacher completed the graphic organizer for him, with his input 1-on-1 (she was amazing!). Then he’d take that to his desk and try to make it into sentences. He did best with the sandwich graphic organizer because it visually gave him a beginning, middle and end.

In third grade he began typing his writing assignments and began pull-out for help. Just this year, three years later, it’s finally starting to click for him (the written expression piece, his handwriting will always be atrocious). His teacher this year is a writer by hobby and has been phenomenal for my son. He often has them pick from a box of photographs as story starters and that has helped my son do a complete 180 in the written expression department. I wished I knew to do that to help him years before. Definitely try that with your child.

Hang in there!
ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Apr 30, 2014 at 5:32pm

Reply to this thread

You must be logged in to reply. To log in, click here.
Not a member? Join ADDConnect today. It's free and easy!

Not a member yet? Join here »

Search the ADDConnect Group Discussions