Sunday, January 31, 2010

Write or Wrong?

I have an increasing number of requests from parents to assist their child with handwriting. I have posted about this before in a blog post entitled - A Gripping Story.

Recently I conducted an Ergonomic Workstation Assessment for an adult who was employed in an administrative role. This particular employee had the task of completing a large number of forms by hand and she was experiencing symptoms that her GP thought might be early signs of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This recent assessment again got me thinking about writing.

Computers and other electronic devices are being used more frequently to communicate - either in real time or to convey a story or recount an experience. It appears as though typing has become the preferred method of communicating over writing and even at times over speaking. I wonder if this is the reason why there is an increasing number of both kids and adults who struggle with writing - either by writing poorly or by developing pain in their hands and wrists during this task?

It's important with any skill to practice often. Use it or you lose it - basically. My approach with working with kids is to firstly correct their pencil grasp, and then practice, practice, practice. Work on letter formation, letter height, width and word spacing. With adults who are reporting pain or other symptoms e.g tingling in the hands, I encourage them to continue writing, but to alternate written tasks with other activities. I encourage all clients, both young and old, to perform hand stretches before commencing writing tasks - just like a footy player would stretch his muscles before running onto the field.

I would love some feedback on this post. Which is more important - handwriting or keyboard skills? Do you experience hand or wrist pain if writing? What about your kids?

Please note, if you experience pain, numbness or tingling when writing or typing, and it does not go away, seek medical attention.


  1. Hi Nicole,

    Interesting to read about this as I experienced this not long ago...I used to write almost every day, diaries, letters etc. However now I type, type, type and recently had to do a 2 hour handwritten exam. Even after a few minutes I had to keep shaking out my hand and wrist and it was only the motivation of the exam that kept me going, and I really was in pain for a while afterwards.

    Then just yesterday I was watching Sophia (2 1/2) start to learn to use pens to draw and was thinking I want to encourage her to write as well as type, so interesting to read your post thank you!


  2. Thanks for your feedback Renee. I am glad you found this information interesting and relevant to you and your family. Might be time to get out the coloured pencils and join Sophia for some relaxing scribbling :)

  3. Hi Nicole, my daughter is 5 and has a problem with her pencil grip. She holds the pencil between her ring and middle finger. She has never complained about pain, but does have some developmental delays. She sometimes uses a pencil grip but still reverts back to that incorrect grip. Personally I find handwriting more painful than keyboarding, esp if studying. I can type much faster than I can write and can't remember ever having pain from keyboarding, even when doing office work all day. Carolyne

  4. Carolyne, I think many of us are in the same boat there. I also find it much easier to type than write. I am lucky that in my work, I am forced to write lengthy case notes which gives me regular handwriting practice. I think everyone should find a reason to write every day. With regards to your daughter, now is a really good time to work on her grip, as lifelong habits are developed from an early age. It might be worth visiting an OT to explore different pencil grips and strategies to help her along.


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