Testing for Dysgraphia
Many people ask about dysgraphia screening or testing and how specific learning disability of written expression is diagnosed. Testing for dysgraphia is typically done as part of a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation by either a private psychologist or in a school-based setting. There is not one standard test or set of tests used to diagnose dysgraphia.
Some testing may include:
Beery VMI – Visual Motor Test of Integration (ages 2-100) – This test is designed to identify deficits in visual perception, fine motor skills, and hand-eye coordination.
NEPSY–II Sensorimotor Subtests (ages 3-16) – This testing tool includes subtests for tactile sensory input, fine motor speed, imitative hand functions, rhythmic and sequential movements and visual-motor precision.
Rey Complex Figure Test (ages 6-89) – This is a test where you draw a complex figure first by copying it and then from memory. It tests visual-spatial abilities as well as visual-spatial recall.
Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Ability (WJ-IV) (ages 2-90+) – This is a comprehensive set of different tests that are designed to test all cognitive abilities and identify strengths and weaknesses. There are “clusters” of subtests for fluid intelligence, visual-spatial ability, processing speed, long-term retrieval, auditory processing, short-term memory, and crystallized intelligence.
Test of Written Language Fourth Edition (TOWL-4) (ages 9-17 ) -- This test measures writing readiness and ability including vocabulary, spelling, punctuation, logical sentences, combining sentences, contextual conventions, and story composition.
Woodcock–Johnson IV Test of Achievement (WJ IV) (ages 2 to adult) – This is a comprehensive test measuring strengths and weaknesses of achievement, language, and cognitive abilities with many different subtests including writing skills and written expression.
Wechsler Individual Achievement Test–Third Edition (WIAT-III) (ages 4-50) – This test is designed to measure academic capabilities and has subtests to measure listening, speaking, reading, writing, and mathematical skills.
Feifer Assessment of Writing (FAW) (PreK - College) -- Assesses written language skills to help diagnose written language disorders. Designed to measure three subtypes of written language disorders (graphomotor index, dyslexic index, executive index). Results help specify, from a neuropsychological perspective, exactly why a student struggles with written language so you can develop appropriate, customized interventions. See Dr. Feifer's Dysgraphia Life webinar which mentions this assessment here.
All of these may be paired with tests for listening comprehension and memory. They are also often paired with tests assessing decoding and reading skills such as those that test phonological awareness and processing (processing sounds) and orthographic processing (processing words). These tests can help diagnose or rule out dyslexia.
A psychologist will use the combination of all the test results to make a diagnosis if appropriate. As explained on the Science page, there are official medical diagnosis codes for dysgraphia.
It is important to note that "dysgraphia" is not officially recognized by schools and for school purposes; it may be described as a "Specific Learning Disability in Written Expression."
It is also important to remember that in some children a diagnosis of dysgraphia may be accompanied by other diagnoses such as dyslexia or ADHD.