Shortly after your child learns how to grasp a pencil or other writing tool, they begin scribbling on paper. As your child matures, this “scribbling” begins forming into handwriting. There are a number of factors that can influence handwriting and even cause handwriting problems in children. Let’s take a look.
Visual-Perceptual Skills Deficits
If your child has a visual-perceptual deficit, they may have problems with reading since they find it difficult to recognize letters and words. Also, if your child is unable to differentiate one letter from another, it can be hard for them to print or handwrite these letters reliably when asked. When there’s an issue with visual closure, your child may find it hard to formulate letters accurately and they may have poor handwriting.
Fine-Motor Skills Control
An important foundation of your child’s writing skills is fine-motor control. When they lack it, it can severely affect their accuracy in guiding the writing tool through the necessary handwriting formations. In order to reproduce the required shapes correctly, your child needs motor planning.
If your child has impaired kinesthetic feedback, you may notice that he grips his writing tool in a fist-like manner. The mobility of his fingers is limited because he places his thumb over his middle and index finger. He may stare at the writing tool while writing in an attempt to use visual feedback to guide his hand. This slows the writing process down. He may also press on the paper very hard.
If your child has impaired kinesthetic feedback, he may start off with legible handwriting, but as he continues on in school it may deteriorate. He may claim that he doesn’t like to write or that his hand hurts when they write.
A child that has problems with spatial requirements in handwriting, such as size, slope, shape, direction, and positioning, it may be hard for her to write legibly. To differentiate between letters that are similar or mirror, visual discrimination is a must. Also necessary is auditory discrimination in order to associate graphic forms with verbal information.
You can help develop your child’s handwriting readiness with certain activities that isolate finger movements and improve fine motor control. Talk with your child’s San Diego pediatric occupational therapist about which activities will help improve your child’s handwriting skills.