Dysfunction in handwriting may include:

  • Sloppy handwriting
  • Has handwriting that is difficult to read
  • Difficulty in learning writing skills
  • Poor letter or word spacing
  • Poor formation of letters
  • Frequent letter or number reversals
  • Inefficient grasp patterns
  • Pain or fatigue with writing

If your child is having difficulty completing written assignments in school, if they are resistant to completing written homework, or if their handwriting is difficult to read, they may be experiencing dysfunction in handwriting.

Symptoms of dysfunction in handwriting:

Symptoms of dysfunction in handwriting include not being able to perform handwriting skills by the average age most children can complete the same activity with ease.

Other signs include:

  • Awkward pencil grip and body position which can include hyperextension of finger or thumb joints
  • Illegible handwriting
  • Letters of greatly different sizes
  • Unfinished words or sentences
  • Inability to write for very long due to fatigue or cramping
  • Avoidance of writing or drawing activities
  • Difficulty organizing ideas on paper


A handwriting evaluation with an occupational therapist (OT) can help. The OT will discuss with you, your main concerns.

The OT will watch the way your child uses the muscles in his/her hands and arms while writing and performing other tasks. The OT may screen your child’s vision and eye movements, ability to use both arms together, visual skills, concentration during seated activities, and hand coordination.

After the evaluation, you will discuss goals and a plan to help your child improve handwriting skills. The OT will provide a treatment program designed to help your child’s areas of need. These may include:

  • Strengthening activities the muscles in your child’s hands and arms
  • Coordination activities to help your child better utilize the small muscles inside their hand
  • Handwriting activities to help to learn correct letter formation
  • Adapted pencil grippers as needed to assist with learning efficient grasp patterns with good joint alignment
  • Visual-Perceptual activities to develop visual skills needed to successfully write and copy letters and words
  • Home exercises. Practice at home is the most important factor in helping your child improve handwriting skills.
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