Pyramid of Potential
Dysgraphia - Definition and Remediation
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May 15, 2014
My schedule has been very busy, and I am finding it difficult to find the time and energy to share my knowledge! However, you are so important to me, that I want to keep you informed, and to continue to teach you more on how to overcome learning disabilities. So, although the article is rerun from a couple of years ago, I also updated it to include the current definition of Dysgraphia.

I am on the road next week and the first week in June. At that point I will have more time to write you!


Kathy Johnson

Definitions of Dysgraphia


Below is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) criteria used by mental health professionals to determine if a person should be diagnosed with or treated for Dysgraphia


Dysgraphia (Writing Disorder)

Dysgraphia is the deficiency to write coherently, regardless of reading ability or intellectual impairment. The DSM-IV describes dysgraphia as a learning disability in which one's writing skills are below those expected given a person's age measured though intelligence and age appropriate education.


The symptoms of dysgraphia can often be confused with a student being lazy, unmotivated, defiant, or of low intelligence. In order to be diagnosed, one must have a cluster of the following symptoms:

  • Cramping of fingers while writing short entries
  • Odd wrist, arm, body, or paper orientations such as creating an L shape with your arm
  • Excessive erasures
  • Mixed upper case and lower case letters
  • Inconsistent form and size of letters, or unfinished letters
  • Misuse of lines and margins
  • Inefficient speed of copying
  • Inattentiveness over details when writing
  • Frequent need of verbal cues
  • Referring heavily on vision to write
  • Poor legibility
  • Handwriting abilities that may interfere with spelling and written composition
  • Having a hard time translating ideas to writing, sometimes using the wrong words altogether
  • May feel pain while writing
In order to remediate the cramping, odd wrist orientation, poor handwriting, and pain, you must eliminate the reflexes that are in the way of the ability to use the arm and hand in any way that is comfortable. Two reflexes are in play here: The Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex and the Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex. These can be easily fixed by doing exercises that replicate what infants do, and can be found on the Maintaining Brains Everyday video. 

Misuse of lines and margins are a combination of vision issues and the Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR). The ATNR, when present, keeps a person from being able to cross the midline - hence, from being able to reach the margin. Misuse of lines can be caused by severe vision issues, like double vision. If you see two lines, which one are you writing on?

Slow copying speed comes from poor convergence - another vision issue. This ability to easily refocus near to far and back is developed during 3 primitive reflexes: Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex, ATNR, and Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (all are addressed on Maintaining Brains).

If a person needs to refer heavily on vision to write, the auditory ability may be poor. Auditory processing abilities are developed while the Spinal Galant reflex is being integrated.

Translating ideas to writing takes both hemispheres of the brain - left is for language and right is for ideas - and the hemispheres become connected during the ATNR integration.

One last issue, which was not mentioned above, is the problem seen when the person with Dysgraphia writes words without spacing, good spelling, or correct capitalization, punctuation or grammar. This is because of a low working memory. Working memory refers to the number of discrete pieces of information held in the brain at one time. The average person over 7 years old can hold 7 pieces of information. If the working memory is low, the writer cannot possibly remember all of those at once. 

Good news - working memory can be improved! brain training must be done, and several choices for this are Growing Brains Everyday, Equipping Minds Workbook, BrainWare Safari, and BrainSpark all of which can be found at

I haven't written in so long and wanted to let you know that you were absolutely right - we saw big improvements in both spelling (although it is still amazingly bad!) and expressive writing following the ATNR module.  Such a change for Steve.  It was actually a change that stuck only briefly after some reflex based body work he had done the previous year, but it did not stay.  And with the ATNR, I have noted only continued improvement.  - Renee
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Kathy Johnson, MS Ed
Pyramid of Potential
245 Washington St #3369
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

Where's Kathy?


It is now time to set up yourprofessional development at your school - Kathy is available for many dates this summer! Call now to secure YOUR date!


Below are the upcoming workshops that Kathy Johnson is giving. If she is not coming to your area, why not hire her for your next professional development?


Kathy Johnson Photo 2010


Wednesday, May 21, 2014 in TEMECULA, CA

Dyslexia, Dyscalculia & Dysgraphia: An Integrated Approach
Thursday, May 22, 2014 in CARLSBAD, CA

Dyslexia, Dyscalculia & Dysgraphia: An Integrated Approach
Wednesday, June 04, 2014 in HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ

Dyslexia, Dyscalculia & Dysgraphia: An Integrated Approach
Thursday, June 05, 2014 in PARSIPPANY, NJ

If you aren't near any of these on-site professional development conferences, consider the following:

Dyslexia, Dyscalculia & Dysgraphia: An Integrated Approach 
Price: $169.99  Author: Kathy Johnson, MS Ed.
Format: DVD

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