How many times you got a paper written by your child and couldn’t decode the letters? or a dictation that looks like a treasure map ???? Why and how can we help?
How does handwriting develop? what are the handwriting difficulties? When is it considered as an impairment? why it occurs?and when to seek help? This article will be answering these questions.
How does handwriting develop?
When children start to draw lines, shapes or letters, they will experience all kind of challenges , they will adjust and learn to modify their hand and finger movements to get the visual results they want. Autonomy, motivation and attention play an essential role in this.
Children will be able to write by developing, controlling and adjusting movements according to :
*Visual information they see: Getting familiar with geometrical shapes and letters is so important to ease learning how to letters.
This visual information ( shape, letter, size of the paper, lines…) is transmitted to brain it’s interpreted.
*Visual tracking to follow with eyes the sequence of letters ( left to right or right to left).
*Eye hand coordination to follow up with the hand movement , base of fine motor skills .
*Hearing information: the hearing perception is interpreted by the brain as well ( sound of the letter or word, sequencing, rhythm and speed ) it involves also time concepts perception.
* Readiness of the muscles of the hand the dexterity and the smoothness of the movement of the different part of the upper limb which demands proprioception and body awareness.
What are the signs and When to seek professional help?
The grip: it’s not always the cause of handwriting difficulties.
Many people have a special pencil grip with beautiful handwriting, others have good grip with bad handwriting like mine ;): all this is typical developmental. Then when do we seek help?
When the child practices handwriting and trains his skills of adjustment and control he will be able to have clear one in the later years.
But what if it doesn’t occur this way? What are the signs of impairment in handwriting and when to seek for assessment and help?
Dysgraphia, handwriting difficulties, can be present in different aspects:
Going from deformation of letters, similarity of the letters shapes, shaky lines, inclined lines, combined big and small sizes of letters, no spacing between words , slowness, tiredness, and pain in the arm , shoulder even neck.
When to seek for professional help?
*When handwriting is not legible: letters are twisted or confusing because of their similarity, or disorganized lines and words, no space between words.
*When it’s causing body pain in fingers/palm/ wrist/arm/ elbow or shoulder and sometimes neck .
*When it causes slow handwriting and affecting academic results.
Why does it occur?
In these cases, we will assess the graphomotor skills to find out which areas are affecting the handwriting, it can be:
- Muscle tone and control: some persons have low or high muscle tone; they either have little or excessive pressure on the pencil while writing
- Breathing: it has direct impact on muscle control, breathing can tell a lot about the harmony in the rhythm of the subject and the rhythm of his handwriting
- Body, space and time perception: these three axes are so related during writing because, the subject needs to organize: first his body posture according to space conditions, second his action according to space and time conditions and to follow the right sequencing of lines and shapes of letters.
- Motor skills: we mean movement coordination and dissociation, fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination
- Visual skills : such as visual perception of shapes, visual tracking and visual strategies.
- Attention and working memory: essential to organize and coordinate between all the areas mentioned before.
Once the cause is known the psycho-motor therapist will put a therapeutic plan. The psychomotor therapist will work in parallel on all the affected areas: whether it’s eye-hand coordination, visual tracking, visual and hearing attention, body management , muscle control, time and space management, fine motor skills or even emotional expression and breathing control, and many other levels, and also the grip (if needed).
Teaching your child how to hold the pencil right might not be effective, for adjusting the grip has different dimensions depending on each person, it’s recommended seeking professional help.