ASD and Handwriting: What You Need to Know

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Poor handwriting is not uncommon among school-aged children, but it tends to be particularly prevalent among students on the autism spectrum.

Some parents may not realize the potential issues that poor handwriting could cause for their children, but the reality is that handwriting is one in a multitude of social cues that allow others to prematurely judge a person.

Teachers often use handwriting as an indicator of a child’s intelligence or the progression they’ve made with understanding educational material. Some teachers may even go so far as to treat a child differently or pay less attention to him or her in the classroom because of a perceived lack of intelligence.

Poor handwriting can also lead to judgement from other students.

Children with poor handwriting are often aware of this issue and therefore hesitant to take part in classroom activities. If asked to write something on the board, they may refuse or move slowly, leading to potential teacher frustration and ostracizing the student from his or her peers.

If the problem isn’t corrected in school, it may continue to follow the person for the rest of his or her work life, as employers also tend to see handwriting as a measurement of intelligence and character.

So how can you help your child improve his or her handwriting to avoid having subpar handwriting become a lifelong issue?

A good starting point is generally an assessment by an occupational therapist or physiotherapist to determine the child’s specific needs and create a plan of action. The child may then be assigned remedial writing assignments or activities to help practice handwriting skills. A parent or teacher can try guiding the child’s hand at first, gradually fading out the assistance until the child can write properly on his or her own.

Children can also color pictures, draw, help with cooking or chores, and perform other activities that require the use of the hands, especially those activities that involve fine motor skills. Just because it’s fun doesn’t mean it can’t help develop better handwriting as well!

Technology is also a useful tool for helping kids with poor handwriting keep up with what’s going on in the classroom. Watch the video below to learn more about handwriting issues in children on the autism spectrum and how technology can help.

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Want to learn more about this and similar issues that are common in people with autism? Click “next” below to read about dyspraxia.

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Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?
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