Why Can’t My Child Do It? It’s Just Handwriting!
Children become very good hand writers by developing muscle strength, problem solving skills and eye hand coordination. A child who does not have the necessary skills that are developed before handwriting (i.e. arm strength, eye-hand coordination, letter and shape perception) will eventually struggle to complete such tasks at school and home.
The following problems may be present in a child who has difficulty with handwriting: -Limitations in trunk movement and control -Poor use of both arms/crossing the middle of the body -Limitations in range of motion (ROM), strength, and muscle tone of the hand and wrist -Poorly graded movements (control of the speed of movement) -Limitations in the ability to smoothly form basic strokes such as circles and lines -Difficulty with letter perception (recognition of forms, similarities and differences) -Challenges with visual-motor integration (using eyes and hands together) -Difficulty orienting to printed language (letter/word/sentence formation) -Challenges with position in space (knowing where you are in space)
Challenges with handwriting may impact child’s life in more than one area. The child may fall with their grades and begin to act out within the classroom and at home. This “acting out” may be used to avoid the challenge handwriting tasks present to the child. He or she may also struggle with lower self-esteem because he/she may not feel confident in comparison to his or her friends.
Occupational therapists work with the child and family in order to develop handwriting skills. The goal of therapy is to maximize the child’s skill level and facilitate that use of effective strategies to minimize frustration and increase accuracy. OT’s are able to target each and every problem area associated with poor handwriting and integrate these skills into play-based therapy activities that will strengthen the child’s deficulties and improve their handwriting.
***Handwriting Tip: When learning letters, have a child form the letters with play-dough instead of writing it. Not only is it more fun for them, but it also develops fine motor skills needed for proper handwriting. ***