Don’t ignore it if you notice that your child has poor handwriting. It may signal that your child needs some specialized help. Handwriting difficulties are common in children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD) and dysgraphia.
The multidisciplinary PediaPlex team evaluates and provides a full range of therapies for children who need help with fine motor skills, including handwriting evaluations. Keep reading to learn more about handwriting problems in children, what to look for, and how we can help your child.
What are handwriting issues in childhood?
Inconsistent handwriting can make it difficult to write legibly, quickly, or neatly. Usually, problems with fine motor skills, visual motor integration, or motor planning are the root cause of handwriting issues.
Writing, drawing, picking up small toys or objects, connecting zippers, and buttoning buttons all require fine motor skills. To complete these motor tasks, the fingers and hands must make very small motor movements. We learn and remember these fine motor movements — thanks to muscle memory — which enables us to improve our skills over time.
Visual motor integration involves fusing what you see and what your hand can write, whereas motor planning entails planning and carrying out movements. Challenges in one or more of these areas can impede the writing process.
Your child may have dysgraphia or developmental coordination disorder, which causes difficulties with the act of writing or the writing process. An occupational therapist can be very helpful in this situation.
How poor handwriting may affect your child
Some children may lose their temper and scatter crumpled papers across the desk. Out of frustration, children may also outright refuse writing assignments, which can quickly cause issues at school.
Alternatively, your child may not be aware of how sloppy his handwriting is and may be taken aback when no one can read it. Children who have poor handwriting may produce letters that are difficult to read.
Poor handwriting can make a young child feel unsuccessful in school because some teachers take it more seriously. Your child may also find it challenging to copy from the board or move information from one place to another.
Symptoms of childhood handwriting problems
The following are some of the signs to look for in children having difficulty with handwriting:
- Their writing is difficult to read
- There are different-sized letters
- There’s a mix of capital and lowercase letters
- Words are slanted
- Spacing between letters and words is too much or too little
- Problems drawing
Other sensory-motor differences may also coexist with handwriting difficulties. Drawing, coloring, cutting, etc., may be challenging for your child if fine motor skills like handwriting are difficult for them.
Causes of childhood handwriting issues
Here are some things that could be going on in children with poor handwriting:
Fine motor skill delay
Fine motor skills include the ability to carry out more precise, intricate movements with the hands and fingers. These skills may lag in younger kids in preschool and kindergarten due to a lack of exposure and practice.
Activities such as coloring, cutting, gluing, beading, and writing, can help your child develop fine motor skills. Your child can practice handwriting and fine motor skills while having fun with creative art projects.
Some kids grow more quickly than others in particular areas. A child may have excellent verbal skills but have delayed development in their fine motor skills. Some children have delays in their overall development, so you may notice that all of their skills are developing more slowly than you anticipated.
It never hurts to seek early intervention through occupational therapy for fine motor skills. There is no need to wait to seek assistance if you have any concerns about your child.
In early childhood, some children have sensorimotor differences. A number of difficulties with sensory processing may be apparent. It's possible that your child has a heightened or diminished sensitivity to specific sounds, smells, visuals, or tactile input.
Additionally, they might have had trouble with their fine motor skills, like handwriting, and learning to walk and run.
What to do when your child is having handwriting difficulty
The pediatric occupational therapists at PediaPlex can assist in identifying and providing therapy for difficulties with fine motor skills and sensory integration. We ensure that your child's needs come first, and provide programs that support your child every step of the way.
If you’re a parent of a child who is having difficulties with handwriting, we are here to provide guidance and support to improve your child’s fine motor skills. To get started, call one of our offices in Southlake, Fort Worth, or Frisco, Texas to schedule an evaluation.