Archive for January, 2013

Helping Children with Handwriting Difficulties

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013 by admin

As the state standards increase, so do the demands placed on our children.  Many children have trouble completing classroom assignments due to handwriting difficulties. Handwriting concerns have become more prominent since handwriting is no longer taught as part of the school curriculum.  Nowadays, children are expected to know how to identify and write upper case letters, lower case letters, and numbers while in Kindergarten.  This poses a serious problem for many children especially those facing difficulties with fine motor skills, sensory processing/ modulation, low/ high muscle tone, decreased hand/ body strength, visual- perceptual skills, amongst other conditions.

As an Occupational Therapist, I work with children facing this struggle on a daily basis. Many of you may be wondering, how can an Occupational Therapist help my child learn how to write?  After all, they are not teachers! Don’t they work in hospitals or clinics? Yes, it is true that we are not teachers and we usually work at other sites.  However, many occupational therapists specialize in the area of handwriting since it affects how children function within their school environment.  Our job as occupational therapists is to help individuals become more independent in their day to day activities.  In this case, since a child’s main occupation is to go to school and learn we help them access their education.  One way to help them access their education is by working on their handwriting skills.  Giving them the opportunity to improve upon their handwriting skills will in turn allow them to produce written work so that they can demonstrate understanding of what they have learned within the classroom.

Many teachers and parents are recognizing the growing need for children to receive help with their handwriting skills.  A recent New York Times article also made reference to this major concern. Children may have trouble holding their pencils properly as well as identifying letters and numbers (visual memory) or producing them correctly.  Other components of handwriting addressed in occupational therapy are: sequencing (formulating numbers or letters with the correct sequence/steps); line regard (keeping them on the line); orientation (no number or letter reversals); and letter and word spacing (proper distance between letters and words).  For older children, we tend to work more on observing the page margins, punctuation marks and writing speed (so that they can keep up with the rest of the class).

Since the demands of classroom work continues to increase with each year that passes, we see more and more that children can benefit from our services.  If your child is having difficulty performing written tasks and keeping up with the classroom demands due to handwriting concerns, seek the help of an occupational therapist.  We are specialized in this area and want to help your child access their education so that they can be successful in their learning environment.

By: Esther Gonzalez  Bil T.S.H.H. M.S. OTR/L

Senior Partner

Adapting Spaces, LLC