Handwriting Assessment and Treatment
Handwriting is a complex task that requires many foundational skills. North Shore Pediatric Therapy’s occupational therapists are trained to assess the prerequisite skills necessary for efficient and fluid handwriting. A child’s handwriting assessment is comprehensive; it includes identifying his current level of functioning in the areas of visual skills, ocular motor skills, body awareness, fine motor planning, shoulder stability, and hand and finger strength. To do this, our therapists will discuss the child’s performance with the parents and teachers, perform standardized assessments, obtain a handwriting sample and observe the child’s fine and gross motor movement patterns. This handwriting assessment allows the therapist to identify the child’s strengths and weaknesses in these skill areas to reveal the source of his difficulty with handwriting.
Following the handwriting assessment, the therapist will develop goals based on the child’s performance and design a treatment program that concentrates on improving these foundational skills. Treatment for handwriting difficulty may include the Handwriting Without Tears ® program, sensorimotor strategies, strengthening the intrinsic muscles of the hand, compensatory strategies such as pencil grips or writing paper with visual cues, and ergonomic strategies such as a slant board or the child’s positioning at the desk.
The therapist may also suggest that she complete a school visit to observe the child in his classroom environment to identify recommendations to help him be most successful with his handwriting at school. Recommendations might include having the child write on an inclined surface to assist with positioning and pencil grasp or using 3-lined paper with dotted lines in the middle to assist with more accurate spatial placement of the letters on the line.
Throughout therapy, the therapist will also provide activities and exercises for the child to complete at home. Participation in home exercises will help the child practice the foundational handwriting skills during the week outside of therapy and will ensure improvements in handwriting performance.
(Source: Case-Smith, 2005)