Developing Handwriting Skills with Autism

As humans, we have developed many different ways to communicate with each other. These include both verbal and nonverbal methods. Throughout time, man has used sounds, pictures, and has developed language to tell stories and pass along information to others. With the use of language comes the need for writing. Handwriting is an important gross motor skill that normally develops at a young age. Along with social and behavioral difficulties, children with autism can have difficulty developing motor skills such as handwriting.

Good Handwriting vs. Autism

For children with autism, the ability to communicate with others can be diminished. They can also have a hard time developing gross/fine motor skills, such as handwriting. An article written for Web, they cited a study that shows high achieving kids with autism often have trouble with handwriting. It’s almost as if highly functioning children with autism could not get their pen to obey them. The same article cites Amy J. Bastian and her colleagues at the Kennedy Krieger Institute for developing a test that uses five aspects of handwriting to show that normal intelligence kids with autism can space, align, and size their letters as well as children without autism. Since these children also have a hard time grasping a pen or utensils, the problem appears to be motor skill related. An occupational therapist may help an autistic child develop better handwriting by steadying their writing hand with their other hand or using thicker/weighted pens or pencils. Better autism handwriting can be achieved through therapy and hard work.

Developing/Improving Penmanship

Developing Handwriting Skills with Autism

The ability to develop or improve handwriting skills will greatly help your child not only communicate better but will help them immensely in the classroom. The best way to achieve this is to have your child evaluated by an occupational therapist, who can design a specific therapy plan for your child.

  • Weighted Holder: Weighted holder can be used with pens, pencils, or markers (sometimes even a toothbrush) and improves grasp and control. Just insert a pen or pencil and use the set screws to secure them in place.
  • Weighted Pen: A weighted pen is another simple solution to increase sensory input and strength. It promotes control, reduces fatigue, and increases muscle strength to help the user develop fine motor skills and increase handwriting skills. It can be used with most writing instruments or coloring tools.
  • Weighted Glove: For instance, your therapist may recommend a weighted handwriting glove which provides proprioceptive input and compression during fine motor activities. It is usually reversible so it can be worn on either hand and is fingerless which allows for finger flexibility and wrist mobility.
  • Pegboards: Since many experts feel that handwriting is tied to a lack of motor skills, one approach to improving handwriting is to utilize items that increase fine motor skills. Often therapists will use tools such as pegboards or other small objects that need to be manipulated by your fingers. It increases upper extremity range of motion, coordination, and endurance and therefore improves handwriting.
Developing Handwriting Skills with Autism            Developing Handwriting Skills with Autism
Melissa & Doug Pound A Peg            Weighted Hand Writing Glove

Whatever method you choose, handwriting skills can be improved through a little practice and repetition.


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