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Understanding Autism, OCD and ADHD - Advice for Parents & Carers

5 Handwriting Tips

06 November 2020

This resource is brought to you by the ADHD Foundation Neurodiversity Charity. A common difficulty experienced by children and young people with ADHD is poor handwriting. Explore ways to improve their writing and to build their self-confidence for future writing activities.

Helping A Child With Writing Difficulties

Author: Colin Foley, National Training Director. 

1. Do some hand exercise together. Stretch out your hands, then shake your hands out, rotate your wrists, wiggle your fingers and maybe even squeeze a stress ball. A friend of mine uses putty with her daughter. They press their fingers into the putty together which gets the blood flowing and prepares the muscles for writing.

2. Teach your child to touch-type. If the school are not offering these opportunities, then do it yourself. Using computers are highly recommended for children and young people with handwriting difficulties because they reduce the number of variables that need to be controlled including letter formation, letter and word spacing and even writing text left to right along a straight line. There is also a lot of correction built in with spelling and grammar checkers which reduces any stigma that your son or daughter might experience with being constantly corrected.

3. Use cursive (joined up) writing. Cursive writing can be easier than print writing as there are more connections between letters so it reduces the need to be constantly thinking about spacing and requires a steady flow and movement of the hand. This is helpful for children and young people who have difficulty with fine motor skills.

4. Experiment with different paper and pens. It can sometimes make a difference to write on paper that has thick or raised lines. Paper of different colours may also be beneficial. The way in which your son or daughter grips a pen or pencil might be helped by using a thicker pen or a pencil with a rubber grip. Experiment with a range of pen grips to find the one that works for your child and expect them to change pen grips at times.

5. If you are helping your son or daughter with a piece of written homework, discuss some ideas first without the sight of a blank page or away from the keyboard. One of the difficulties with starting to write is often not thinking through or planning for the whole piece, therefore, help your child to organise their thoughts and knowledge into sections. If you record this first, then it will help your child with ADHD who may forget the overall purpose of the writing as they concentrate on the first section. It will also provide a system of breaks, for example, “lets just finish this paragraph, then we’ll have a break and after the break, we know exactly what needs to be written next.”

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