Developmental dysgraphia: An overview and framework for research

Michael McCloskey, Brenda Rapp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Developmental deficits in the acquisition of writing skills (developmental dysgraphias) are common and have significant consequences, yet these deficits have received relatively little attention from researchers. We offer a framework for studying developmental dysgraphias (including both spelling and handwriting deficits), arguing that research should be grounded in theories describing normal cognitive writing mechanisms and the acquisition of these mechanisms. We survey the current state of knowledge concerning developmental dysgraphia, discussing potential proximal and distal causes. One conclusion emerging from this discussion is that developmental writing deficits are diverse in their manifestations and causes. We suggest an agenda for research on developmental dysgraphia, and suggest that pursuing this agenda may contribute not only to a better understanding of developmental writing impairment, but also to a better understanding of normal writing mechanisms and their acquisition. Finally, we provide a brief introduction to the subsequent articles in this special issue on developmental dysgraphia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-82
Number of pages18
JournalCognitive neuropsychology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - May 19 2017


  • Developmental dysgraphia
  • developmental dyslexia
  • handwriting
  • reading
  • spelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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