Handwriting evaluations are about more than just the letters on the page – they are about everything that contributes to forming the letters as well. Writing requires visual coordination, core strength, fine motor skills, hand strength, and more. If your child has sloppy handwriting, has difficulty correctly forming letters or has trouble properly holding a pencil, they may benefit from occupational therapy for handwriting problems.
Even with all of the technology available today, handwriting is still a vital skill. Not everything is electronic, and the skills and muscles used in writing also come into play in other activities. Identifying problems early on can help to correct them before more serious issues or bad habits develop. Good handwriting takes time and practice.
How to Know if Your Child has Handwriting Problems and Difficulties
Is your child’s handwriting:
- Sloppy or illegible?
- Not as polished as their peers’?
- Does your child avoid writing tasks?
These can all be signs that your child has handwriting problems and difficulties. What is harder to assess is exactly why they are having these problems. For some children, it is just a matter of paying more attention, focusing and slowing down rather than rushing through an assignment to get it done. For some children, however, it is more complex than this. They may have handwriting problems because they struggle with visual-motor skills (processing what they see and then copying it on their paper), have poor hand or grip strength making it difficult to correctly hold their pencil or write for a longer period of time, or have issues with posture.
If you do think that your child has handwriting problems or difficulties:
- Talk to their teacher and see if they have similar concerns
- Have your child evaluated by an occupational therapist
- Find out how you can support them at home
What Factors Come in to My Child Having Trouble with Handwriting?
There are many different factors that come into play when a child has trouble with handwriting. In order to write clearly, a child must coordinate their eyes, hands, arms, body posture, pencil grip and letter formation. An occupational therapist will assess several different areas including postural and core support, hand and pinch strength, visual attention, concentration, fine motor skills, visual-motor integration and visual perception. Children must not only be able to see and interpret information, but also have the proper motor control and posture to replicate it. If they have problems in one or more of these areas, it can affect their writing ability.
What are the Consequences for Children with Poor Handwriting?
With the availability of technology and computers, it may seem that handwriting is not as big of a deal anymore. However, it is still very important because much of student work in school is still written by hand. Teachers use written assessments to evaluate learning. Handwriting is also a form of self-expression and it can be easier for students to get their thoughts down in writing as opposed to typing, especially if they have to search for the letters on the keyboard. This can disrupt their thought process. Poor handwriting can have numerous consequences:
- Frustration in school due to the inability to keep up with peers or the pace of the lesson due to slow or illegible writing.
- Lower grades or test scores
- Difficulty expressing creativity though writing or drawing
- Aversion to tasks that require writing
Children may struggle in school or develop anxiety because poor handwriting is holding them back or making them frustrated with assignments. Occupational therapy for handwriting can help them to overcome these challenges.
Occupational Therapy Can Help with Your Child’s Handwriting Development
The quest for neater handwriting does not have to be a battle. Occupational therapy can help with your child’s handwriting development and equip them with the skills they need to succeed. An occupational therapist can work on the individual issues your child is struggling with and support them in overcoming obstacles and developing proper posture, strengthening their muscles, and learning to form letters correctly. PediaPlex offers handwriting evaluations and testing to help determine why your child is struggling with handwriting, and what strategies can support their handwriting development. Licensed occupational therapists provide one-on-one therapy targeted to your child’s individual needs.