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I’m an occupational therapist and was recently reading up on dyslexia on the LD OnLine site and had some additional questions about it. Is dysgraphia an official learning disability or a functional diagnosis? Are occupational therapists allowed to diagnose dysgraphia? Who else can diagnose dysgraphia? What are the precise diagnostic criteria, if any, of dysgraphia?

The official diagnostic manual (DSM-IV-TR) lists only one Motor Skills Disorder — “Developmental Coordination Disorder.” The task force planning DSM-V is aware that there will be a need to identify dysgraphia. Psycho-educational testing will identify a child with a written language disability based on fine motor coordination. Certainly OTs can do this.

I do not know if there are uniformly established criteria. If a student has difficulty with spelling or with language arts (grammar, punctuation, capitalization), he or she is seen as having a learning disability. If the difficulty relates to fine motor coordination and the ability to form letters and words properly or quickly, he or she is seen as having a grapho-motor problem or dysgraphia.

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