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Difficulties with handwriting

Difficulties With Handwriting Panel

Handwriting difficulties can affect children of all ages and abilities. These difficulties can range from difficulty forming letters to poor handwriting speed and messy or illegible handwriting. Handwriting difficulties can make it difficult for children to keep up with their peers in school and can lead to frustration and low self-esteem.

Signs and symptoms of handwriting difficulties

The signs and symptoms of handwriting difficulties can vary from child to child, but may include:

  • Difficulty forming letters
  • Poor handwriting speed
  • Messy or illegible handwriting
  • Difficulty copying from the board or from a book
  • Difficulty writing neatly and legibly
  • Difficulty writing for extended periods of time
  • Handwriting that is difficult to read

Causes of handwriting difficulties

There are a number of factors that can contribute to handwriting difficulties, including:

  • Motor skills: Children with poor motor skills may have difficulty with the fine motor coordination required for handwriting. This can include difficulty controlling the pencil, forming letters, and maintaining a steady hand.
  • Visual-motor skills: Children with poor visual-motor skills may have difficulty coordinating their eye movements with their hand movements. This can make it difficult for them to write accurately and legibly.
  • Learning difficulties: Handwriting difficulties are often associated with other learning difficulties, such as dyslexia and dyspraxia.
  • Sensory processing issues: Children with sensory processing issues may have difficulty with the sensory feedback from writing, such as the feel of the pen on the paper. This can make it difficult for them to write smoothly and evenly.

Assessment of handwriting difficulties

Handwriting difficulties can be assessed by a qualified professional, such as a speech and language therapist or an occupational therapist. The assessment will involve a range of tests to assess the child's handwriting skills.
 

Interventions for handwriting difficulties

The best practice interventions for handwriting difficulties are individualized and depend on the specific needs of the child. Some common interventions include:

  • Handwriting practice
  • Sensory integration therapy
  • The use of assistive technology
  • Occupational therapy

Supporting children with handwriting difficulties

Parents and carers can support children with handwriting difficulties by providing them with opportunities to practice, creating a supportive home environment, and advocating for their needs at school. This could include:

  • Practice: Regular handwriting practice is essential for improving handwriting skills.
  • Special pens and paper: There are a number of special pens and paper that can help children with handwriting difficulties, such as those that are thicker or have a grip that helps to improve control.
  • Handwriting therapy: Handwriting therapy can be helpful for children with severe handwriting difficulties.
  • Support from school: Children with handwriting difficulties should receive support from their teachers, such as extra help with handwriting practice and accommodations during exams.
  • Positive reinforcement: It is important to provide positive reinforcement for children with handwriting difficulties, focusing on their progress rather than their mistakes.

What help can schools provide?

Where pupils experience difficulties with handwriting, schools are expected to take a graduated approach to meeting their needs. This would begin with support in the classroom, for example, being provided with a writing grip or being supported with the gradient that a pupil writes at.

If further support is required, a school would be expected to implement targeted intervention that addresses the specific skills that a pupil is having difficulty with, for example, letter formation. Interventions should be time limited, subject to clearly defined outcomes and proven by research.

Poor handwriting is not necessarily evidence of a special educational need. Handwriting is an apprenticeship and it can take some time for some children to develop their skills. Specific difficulties with handwriting are sometimes referred to as 'dysgraphia'; whilst a school would not be expected to commission a report by an external specialist, a school would be expected to discuss with you their use of appropriate screening and assessment tools and the results of that work (along with any subsequent actions) as part of an assess, plan, review cycle.

Where a privately commissioned report has been carried out and identifies a specific difficulty with handwriting, schools should discuss and implement any recommendations made as part of an assess, plan, do, review cycle.

It is expected that schools have the training and resources to assess and support pupils with handwriting difficulties. Where schools do not is expected that teachers draw on support, for example, from partner schools or specialists such as educational psychologists.

The following example resources will help schools to plan their response and families to understand the kinds of support available:

Frequently asked questions

What are handwriting difficulties?    

Handwriting difficulties can vary from child to child, but may include difficulty forming letters, poor handwriting speed, and messy or illegible handwriting.

What are the causes of handwriting difficulties?    

Handwriting difficulties can be caused by a variety of factors, including muscle weakness, visual problems, and poor fine motor skills.

How can handwriting difficulties be assessed?    

Handwriting difficulties can be assessed by a qualified professional, such as a speech and language therapist or an occupational therapist.

What are the best practice interventions for handwriting difficulties?    

The best practice interventions for handwriting difficulties are individualized and depend on the specific needs of the child. Some common interventions include handwriting practice, sensory integration therapy, and the use of assistive technology.

How can parents and carers support children with handwriting difficulties?    

Parents and carers can support children with handwriting difficulties by providing them with opportunities to practice, creating a supportive home environment, and advocating for their needs at school.

 

 

Plymouth's Local Offer is organised into four main categories covering the following age ranges:

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