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How to improve hand-writing speed?


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#1 c00l

Posted 15 August 2019 - 04:09 PM

My DS who is 8 and in yr2 writes neatly with good spacing but takes a long time to finish writing each letter. He has a history of low-muscle tone, poor core strength, and is pretty un-coordinated. He also has a few sensory issues(ie-still can't have tags on his shirts, and needs to be tightly held when he is upset). He saw an OT when he was in kindergarten and I've had his name down at our university for some group OT sessions done with OT students with supervisors-they have a good reputation  and are relatively very cheap but it is very hard to get a spot after school (it's been a year since I first put his name down) . Anyway, his teacher this morning was saying that she is worried that he is going to find yr 3 quite hard if he doesn't start writing faster, so I'm wondering what others would do in my situation. Finding a good OT is so hit and miss and expensive but I'm willing to do so if others with similar issues found it helped.

#2 robhat

Posted 15 August 2019 - 04:49 PM

If he has a history of low muscle tone etc, then getting specialised help would definitely be recommended.

Otherwise the only thing to be done is to sensibly exercise his hand muscles to improve strength.

Lots of play with playdough or clay helps. Try writing activities on the wall/windows as that works the muscles harder. Don't over-do it, but schedule in practice daily. If he's not keen, bribe him. I know someone who convinced their child to improve his handwriting by bribing him with computer game time for each page of writing he did.

Also find plenty of activities that will keep him using his hands rather than them being idle. Limit screen time as much as possible and get him to help with cooking and gardening.

Also consider taking up piano! :)

#3 FuzzyChocolateToes

Posted 15 August 2019 - 09:01 PM

The RCH have some OT info sheets on line that relate to hand writing. You'll need to click on the links: https://www.rch.org....apy_factsheets/

#4 Ozquoll

Posted 15 August 2019 - 09:06 PM

^^^^
Thanks FCT, some really good suggestions in those RCH info sheets.

#5 Expelliarmus

Posted 15 August 2019 - 09:08 PM

In addition, teach him to type and negotiate that he use typing in extended writing tasks.

#6 Sincerely

Posted 15 August 2019 - 09:18 PM

View Postrobhat, on 15 August 2019 - 04:49 PM, said:

Lots of play with playdough or clay helps. Try writing activities on the wall/windows as that works the muscles harder. Don't over-do it, but schedule in practice daily. If he's not keen, bribe him. I know someone who convinced their child to improve his handwriting by bribing him with computer game time for each page of writing he did.

Also find plenty of activities that will keep him using his hands rather than them being idle. Limit screen time as much as possible and get him to help with cooking and gardening.

Also consider taking up piano! :)

Perhaps some of the computer game/screen time could be made useful with handwriting apps like iTrace.

To improve fine motor coordination & pincer grip, suggest games like Jenga or good old fashioned 'Pick up sticks'.



#7 BRB

Posted 16 August 2019 - 07:37 AM

Have you tried different pencil styles or pencil grips? My son finds typical thin pencils exhausting to write with but thicker ones in a triangle shape work much better. He has recently been given a pacer from his speech therapist and it works well too (he canโ€™t press too hard) and it flows smoother on the paper, has an inbuilt grip to help with his weak thumb grip.

#8 BusbyWilkes

Posted 16 August 2019 - 10:37 AM

OP, not sure about your work situation...

If possible, I would see if the Uni clinic has availability in an early afternoon time slot and pick your child up early from school that day. If it's a block of therapy (often 6-8 weeks), the benefits from what he/you learn in those sessions (that you can then go on to practice at home) would most likely outweigh missing 6 afternoons of school.

The teacher is now raising it as an issue, so that should make it easier to address (and hopefully they will be on board with implementing recommendations in the classroom if required).

Even if you see a private OT, after school apts are tricky to get. Good luck.


#9 c00l

Posted 16 August 2019 - 12:48 PM

Thanks so much everyone for taking the time to respond. I actually work at the uni myself so it makes sense to try a bit harder to get him in here. I have Mondays off, but they don't seem to have any classes on that day. I will try again though. All the other suggestions are very useful thank you. It's hard to know whether it's fatigue or something else-he spends a lot of time drawing, so I would have thought that would helped with his hand strength.

#10 Ruf~Feral~es

Posted 16 August 2019 - 01:13 PM

My DS had all the issues you describe.  It's hard work for them.

He's now in yr 8 (14)  and does find it difficult still, but it is getting better.

Does your DS have nice writing?  And is he a perfectionist?  My DS hates presenting work that it not 'perfect' in his eyes, which sometimes leads him to spend way too long on the look of the work rather than the content.  He has had to learn to let his writing get a little messier in order to get an essay written in the time allowed.

We have also found both piano and guitar lessons have really helped.  He started piano around 7 or 8,  and moved to guitar a couple of years ago.

#11 too tired to care

Posted 16 August 2019 - 05:48 PM

It really would be best to see an OT before you do too much as he will need a new assessment to ensure anything you do is actually the right thing for him.

Please don't get him to write too much. If he has poor muscle tone and poor pencil grip then all you will do is reinforce poor posture/ hold. In the mean time, larger pencils and textas may assist as he will not have to squeeze them as hard to write.

I have hyper mobility and poor muscle tone and 2 of my children have the same issue. The OT's we have seen have arranged for special grips and writing pads to ensure good hold for practice as well as some special exercise to strengthen the hand muscles.  There are a number of grips on the market but again it is best to have an assessment before doing this so you are using correct grip and writing pad for him.

The strengthening exercises that are easy to do are:
- theraputty is good but getting the right one is important but you can start with kmart one or a melting snowman and only pushing or pinching not stretching.if you put beads in it he can get the beads out gain only by pushing and pinching not stretching the putty.
- plastic tweezers using the pincher grip (we have a game of seeing who can pick up the most small craft pompom balls)
- squeezing and pinching stress balls

Also remember he will also tire quicker than other people as his muscles are working overtime. He will be slower due to the low muscle tone so the teacher might need to adjust her expectations and give him extra time for writing tasks and having regular breaks, even micro ones such as shaking hands can help. These a reasonable adjustments that teachers can do to assist him.

ETA: while you might prefer the uni, I found wait lists for private to be around 6 months and 12 months for public. I would put his name down at a number of places and take the first time offered. if you can be flexible regarding time and take the first time you are offered you will find they have a little more flexibility to fit you in once you have assessment done. also might be worth ringing the uni to see where he is on waiting list so you have some idea if they are going to be able to see him soon.

Edited by too tired to care, 16 August 2019 - 05:56 PM.


#12 sydmumof2

Posted 23 August 2019 - 11:07 PM

Just wanted to add that with low muscle tone and fatigue with fine-motor activities, it is also really important to work on core strength and gross-motor skills. By strengthening the core, shoulder, and upper arm, you help stabilise the hand for writing, etc.

Some good exercises:
- Swimming
- Climbing
- Heavy work
- Certain yoga positions
- Push ups

#13 c00l

Posted 24 August 2019 - 02:07 PM

Thanks again everyone. He had an assessment at the uni last year(year one) and re-reading it yesterday I remembered that his handwriting speed was 14 letters/min which is only slightly below the norm of 15-32, so I think I thought at the time well that's not too bad and focused instead on trying to improve his gross motor skills as they were quite below the norm(ball skills and core strength activities). I've taken on board all the suggestions and I have him in swimming classes all year(it's the only sport he likes) and I've made more of an effort to go on bushwalks with him. His school does weekly keyboard lessons, so I'll enrol him in them and I downloaded a typing program for him yesterday. We have a funky monkey bars set in the backyard and a trampoline.  He still can't manage the monkey bars but likes going on the swing and trampoline, so I just have to make sure I encourage him to use them more after school. Once I get in to see someone, I will definitely enquire about the writing pad and grips. In terms of his character, he is not so much a perfectionist as a "I don't want to try this in case I fail", so he will often resist trying anything new. He actually loves dancing and I've tried to encourage him to join a dance group, but so far he has refused.

#14 Ozquoll

Posted 24 August 2019 - 07:35 PM

Can't multi-quote on my phone, sorry 'bout cut n paste...

C00l said:
"In terms of his character, he is not so much a perfectionist as a "I don't want to try this in case I fail", so he will often resist trying anything new."

This describes my DS perfectly. God it's frustrating, and I have not yet hit upon a good strategy to encourage him to keep trying things.

************
Sydmumof2 said:

Just wanted to add that with low muscle tone and fatigue with fine-motor activities, it is also really important to work on core strength and gross-motor skills. By strengthening the core, shoulder, and upper arm, you help stabilise the hand for writing, etc.

Some good exercises:
- Swimming
- Climbing
- Heavy work
- Certain yoga positions
- Push ups


I am so on board with everything you've said, but I struggle to get my reluctant DS to actually DO any of those things ๐Ÿ˜ฆ.

#15 Expelliarmus

Posted 24 August 2019 - 08:22 PM

Quote

In terms of his character, he is not so much a perfectionist as a "I don't want to try this in case I fail", so he will often resist trying anything new.
That's a significant descriptor of perfectionism. My own DD and has this mindset as part of her perfectionist tendencies. I've also noticed it happens with writing at that age and often in students with autism who have perfectionist traits.

Edited by Expelliarmus, 24 August 2019 - 08:22 PM.


#16 T2Mum

Posted 24 August 2019 - 09:03 PM

View Postc00l, on 15 August 2019 - 04:09 PM, said:

Finding a good OT is so hit and miss and expensive but I'm willing to do so if others with similar issues found it helped.

My DD had similar issues. Seeing a good OT helped immensely. I think we were able to get a referral from our GP and a Medicare plan.

It really is very important to get a correct diagnosis of the issues as without it you won't know what things will best help your child.

Good luck! In terms of finding a good OT I would try and ask around and see if there is someone that is recommended near you.

#17 sydmumof2

Posted 26 August 2019 - 10:52 PM

Ozquoll, our DS is also very reluctant to do the exercises. I think it's because he finds them tiring and/or difficult. We try to incorporate various exercises into our daily routine and not do them for an extended block of time. I have resorted to bribing him, too!

#18 Ozquoll

Posted 26 August 2019 - 11:04 PM

^^^^^
I am not above bribery, or blackmail either! ๐Ÿ˜




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