It is not uncommon for children with ASD to struggle with handwriting, my son included. Handwriting is not a reflection of the overall academic capacity of these children, however children with high functioning autism may experience academic and social challenges as a result of poor handwriting. Whether your child is at school or being homeschooled, there are special tools and techniques to enhance handwriting skills that can be incorporated into daily activities.
Often times, the handwriting struggles stem from fine motor delays or fine motor endurance. I liken it to writer’s cramp that seems to present much quicker for these kids than most. Weaving in fine motor exercises to your daily routine can help strengthen hand and finger muscles. Unbeknownst to the child, these fun activities are therapeutic exercises.
Therapy Putty or Playdough
Squeezing Stress Balls
Sorting small items
Painting on an Easel
There are many handwriting programs on the market as well as a plethora of activities. I personally like Handwriting Without Tears and have incorporated some of the suggestions from their programming into our daily routine such as using the small chalkboard for letter writing and a wall chalkboard for improved hand & wrist strength. We also use playdough on the small chalkboard to build out the letters first. This offers fine motor strengthening as well as the ability to conceptualize how the letter is made.
Consider trying weights and grips for pencils if your child struggles with holding the pencil with the correct pressure. We also use triangle crayons on days that he is struggling a bit more. Because we homeschool, I am able to gauge his needs on a particular day. Some days, he is fine with a pencil, other days we have to choose the triangle crayons or use the pencil with the gripper.
In the classroom, see if you can get a slanted desk or slant boards for home or school as this helps proper handwriting position and improves endurance.
For older children at school who may have a lengthy writing assignment, see if the teacher can break the assignment up into smaller sections or seek permission to use the computer for large assignments.
Try out the recommendations and enhance your child’s handwriting skills by having fun while improving fine motor skills.
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