Jenny Clark

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Jenny Clark

Jenny L. Clark, OTR/L

  • Professional Development Seminars
  • Pediatric Occupational Therapist
  • Certified Kids Yoga Teacher

Handwriting Strategies for Dysgraphia

Research shows that as many as 20% of school-age children have problems with handwriting.  Illegible handwriting, also known as dysgraphia, is the primary reason for referrals to therapists practicing in school-based settings. This is a significant problem because handwriting is important for many functional life skills, such as completing homework and school assignments. Dysgraphia is common in children with sensory processing disorder and children with autism. In this podcast, Jenny shares insights into handwriting problems and offers simple but effective strategies to support students with dysgraphia.

To purchase Letter Treasure Hunt handwriting game click here.

Research shows that 10%-20% of school-age children have problems with handwriting. Handwriting is important for many functional life skills such as: Complete homework, school assignments, achievement tests for getting into college, writing letters, completing a job application form, and writing checks just to name a few. Illegible handwriting, also known as dysgraphia, is the primary reason for referrals to therapists practicing in school-based settings. Dysgraphia is a neurological disorder in which a person experiences handwriting difficulties. Letter formation may be acceptable in very short samples of writing, but this requires extreme effort and an unreasonable amount of time to accomplish. Overall, written work is not readable, even if copied. Some Signs & Symptoms of dysgraphia:

  • Cramped fingers on writing tool causing hand fatigue
  • Excessive erasures
  • Mixture of upper & lowercase letters
  • Reversal errors (typical through first grade)
  • Inconsistent letter formation & slant
  • Irregular letter sizes & shapes
  • Misuse of line & margin
  • Poor organization on the page
  • Inefficient speed in copying

Here are some simple and effective strategies to support students with dysgraphia:

Let’s consider compensatory strategies:

  • non-sitting positions during handwriting such as prone on the floor, tall kneeling, or standing to assist with posture
  • Ball chair or air-filled cushion for sensory input
  • A slant board helps support the forearm and wrist during writing and positions the paper at just the right visual angle
  • Pencil grips can support and position fingers for the most efficient grasp
  • Adapted handwriting paper such as 2 lined paper to eliminate visual confusion, raised line paper to give a tactile cue for the baseline, or highlighted paper for easier visual target when writing

Here are some accommodations to consider:

  • Change demands of writing rate: Allow more time for written tasks
  • Change volume: Reduce copying by providing math worksheet with problems written 
  • Change tools: Graph paper for math problems, pencil grippers, adapted paper
  • Change format: Do not grade spelling on some assignments

Let’s look at some intervention ideas:

  • Theraputty to increase grip strength
  • Hand and finger warmups to handwriting such as finger thumb touching and squeezing the hands
  • Kinesthetic activities for handwriting such as practicing spelling words in shaving cream
  • Letter Treasure Hunt handwriting game from www.Therapro.com This is my original invention and kids have commented how fun handwriting is when they play this game!