Poor handwriting in children is a symptom not the problem

Difficulty with handwriting is often the first indication that parents have that their child needs help from an Occupational Therapist. However it may present as difficulty with drawing or disinterest in arts and craft activities initially. Many parents including those with a child with autism therefore first contact an Occupational Therapist to assist with their child's fine motor skills. However this is not usually the core problem and it is therefore essential to address the other areas of difficulty first. Once this has occurred often fine motor skills improve on their own.

Below is a diagram of many of the aspects that Occupational Therapists can address. The diagram is a pyramid for a reason. Until the child is able to function effectively at the bottom levels, they cannot achieve success with the higher ones.

As you can see, at the bottom of the pyramid is sensory processing (in orange) and academic learning is right at the top. Being able to use a pen to record information is an important part of academic learning. You can therefore see that your child has all the processes below academic learning that need to be working well in order for them to write well.

This diagram also emphasises the importance of sensory processing as the foundation to all of the other skills. As so many children with autism have sensory processing difficulties, make sure your Occupational Therapist understands and is interested in sensory processing.

For a child with autism this is often essential just to get them to the table let alone working on specific fine motor skills and eventually drawing and writing.

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