Handwriting Challenges: What is the Root Cause?

Handwriting Challenges: What is the Root Cause?

handwriting challenges
photo credit: SensationalBrain.com

For most of us, handwriting is second nature. Certainly we practiced it enough in school. Although our script might have “evolved” over the years (not for the better sometimes), we all remember repeatedly practicing upper and lower case letters and staying between the lines. Maybe your handwriting wasn’t the best, but most likely it was sufficient to meet the teacher’s standards.  Handwriting challenges abound in many children and it is impacting their academics.  Discover how to get to the root cause.

Who Might Struggle with Handwriting Challenges?

Children with various isms often find handwriting so problematic that it impacts their school performance.  You will most likely find handwriting challenges in children with autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, CAPD*, NLD*, SPD and others. Intelligent, capable children fail subjects because their handwriting is illegible. The same issues which cause handwriting problems may also affect their ability to use a keyboard.

Handwriting Challenges : Collective Skills Needed

Handwriting is not only about holding a writing tool in the hand and moving it on paper.  Strong handwriting skills is about:

trunk and shoulder stability

good visual perceptual skills

spatial awareness

proprioceptive awareness

good sensory processing

the ability to cross midline

a dynamic grasp

refined pincer grasp.

But that is not all. It also requires visual memory, recall, focus, attention, mirror neurons and more. There are so many components which need to operate concurrently that it is a wonder that anyone can write.

What Does that Jargon Mean?

Let me explain what all of the above jargon means.  A child needs to be able to:

Sit up straight and have enough endurance and focus to stay on task until completion.

Look at letters, interpret what she sees, and then retain them in memory so that she can reproduce them on paper.

Make the shapes of the letters accurately and in the proper sequence and within a designated space.

Determine how much pressure to apply to the pen or pencil to produce an appropriate mark that is not too dark and not too light.

Hold the pencil in her hand in a manner that allows her to not only stabilize while writing but to move across the paper as well.

Handwriting Challenges – A Miserable Experience

Take a good look at the skills which comprise handwriting.  You will undoubtedly see that many of the skill components are the ones that challenge children with various isms. A problem in any one of these skills is sufficient to make handwriting difficult. Unfortunately, these children generally have dysfunction in many of these skill sets.

When there are so many obstacles to overcome, the task becomes an exercise in futility.  For the children, it is a miserable experience to be forced to repeat over and over – the very thing you know you cannot do.

There IS Hope for Handwriting Challenges!

Legible (I don’t like to say “good”) handwriting can be achieved when each child is assessed for their deficits, and those deficits are treated accordingly. Handwriting is not acquired by just paying attention and copying letters over and over. It is a very complex skill and needs to be treated holistically.

Be sure to check out Special-Ism’s Handwriting Solution Center.  Peruse the insightful articles for handwriting ideas and solutions.

Resourceful View On Demand Webinars

sloppy handwriting
0.2 AOTA CEUs

Sloppy Handwriting? Tips and techniques to improve common handwriting problems

Even in the age of technology, students are writing for a majority of their day. Due to an increase in academic expectations, teachers often do not have enough time in their day to teach handwriting. Illegible handwriting can lead to poor grades, low motivation to complete written tasks, and behavior issues. Handwriting is meant to be an “automatic” skill, which means that kids should be able to think and write at the same time. This 2-hour webinar is geared toward entry- to intermediate-level occupational therapists, teachers, and parents. The webinar includes cheap and easy adaptations and techniques that can be used in the classroom, home, or therapy. It will also include FREE resources and question and answer time.  Learn More and Register

 

Handwriting Positions
0.2 AOTA CEUs

New Ideas and Techniques for Posture, Upper Extremity Stability, Pressure, Wrist Extension, and Grip!

Academic expectations are increasing every year. Children are asked to write even in preschool! Unfortunately our body needs to catch up with the expectations. There are many children that have poor handwriting because they have an issue with body positioning, hand dominance, grip, etc. It is important for teachers, parents, and professionals working with children to understand the sequence of development to write!

This 2-hour webinar is geared toward introductory- to intermediate-level occupational therapists, teachers, and parents and addresses (a) promoting good posture and learn how to make your own adaptations, (b) shoulder stability exercises that can be done anywhere, (c) bilateral coordination and the helping hand, (d) determining hand dominance, (e) facilitating wrist extension, (f) grip explanation and techniques, and (g) grip problem-solving opportunities. The webinar includes cheap and easy adaptations and techniques that can be used in the classroom, home, or therapy. It also includes FREE resources and question and answer time.  Learn More and Register

 

iPads for Therapy
0.1 AOTA CEU

Using iPads in Therapy: Handwriting skills and handwriting compensation techniques

This 75-minute webinar geared toward introductory- to intermediate-level occupational therapists, teachers, and parents provides you with many resources. Handwriting skills on the iPad are reviewed, including apps to teach handwriting and how to use the iPad as a modification for students that have difficulty with handwriting. It is recommended that you have your iPad handy so that you can practice during the webinar.  Learn More and Register

All of the webinars listed above are provided by our very own, Kim Wiggins, OTR/L.  Explore Kim’s blog for additional insights!

* CAPD – Central Auditory Processing Disorder

* NLD – Nonverbal Learning Disorder