Written Language/Expression

Writing is a complex task for children because it requires the integration of multiple cognitive, linguistic and motor abilities. Writing involves low-level transcription skills (e.g., handwriting, spelling, punctuation, capitalization and grammar), as well as higher-level composition skills (e.g., sentence and paragraph organization including planning content, organization and revision).

Many feel that writing may be the most complex task that students are asked to perform in school because it requires the integration of so many different skills. Further, the process of integrating the various language demands with the memory and motor demands easily can overload a student’s ability to attend and concentrate. For example, if a student has to concentrate too much on his/her writing, this becomes problematic because the cognitive resources are focused on how to write rather than what to write and his/her written expression will suffer.

Children with written language/expression disorders may have problems in the early and/or later stages of learning to write:

  • In the early stages, they may have difficulty in producing the letters of the alphabet rapidly and automatically, retrieving letters from long-term memory, obtaining sufficient finger dexterity and fine-motor coordination, and integrating visual and motor skills.
  • In the latter stages, they may have difficulty in connecting orthographic codes (e.g., words, letters, and letter clusters) with the corresponding phonological codes (e.g., phonetic/semantic, phonemic and syllabic/rhyme, respectively), constructing meaningful sentences and paragraphs, planning and making revisions).