What’s Causing Your Child’s Poor Handwriting?

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What's Causing Your Child's Poor Handwriting? | Triumph Therapeutics | Physical Therapy in Washington DC

As practitioners at a pediatric therapeutic clinic, we’ve worked with enough medical doctors over the years to know that some people just have sloppy handwriting.

However, if your child has messy handwriting, there are a number of different potential causes.

These can be as simple as being age related, meaning that your child is very young – in that case, there’s generally nothing to worry about.

Or it can be a more complex cause which may impact their development.

If you notice that your child’s poor handwriting persists as they age, it’s important to seek a pediatric therapy evaluation to see what the underlying cause is.

Depending on the cause, your child may benefit from pediatric speech therapy or pediatric occupational therapy near me.

Let’s take a closer look.

Is Handwriting Still Important?

Handwriting might seem old fashioned when everyone has a smart phone or laptop handy.

But, especially during your school years, hand writing is still very important.

After all, they’ll still have to do tests and assignments in school by hand.

As well, the process of learning to write also helps build on some of the fine motor skills your child will need to learn to do other things.

That’s why if you notice that your child is having trouble with their handwriting, it’s a good idea to take steps to help or correct them before bad habits develop.

How To Tell If Your Child Has Poor Handwriting Issues

Some common signs that indicate your child might have poor handwriting issues include:

  • Illegible handwriting
  • Noticeably messier handwriting than their peers
  • Inconsistent handwriting
  • A noticeable avoidance of handwriting tasks

Now, some children need to pay more attention, and to slow down tasks in order to complete the writing task.

But, others might have more complex issues that require a pediatric occupational therapist to assess and treat.

It all depends on the cause of your child’s poor handwriting.

What Causes Poor Handwriting?

There are many causes for poor handwriting.

This is because your child must coordinate their eyes, hands, arms, body posture, pencil grip, and letter formation in order to write clearly.

It’s important to first note that it’s expected that your young child writes poorly at first.

It’s only a cause for concern if their poor handwriting persists as they grow and doesn’t show any signs of improvement.

If you notice this, then it’s time to get either a pediatric speech therapist or a pediatric occupational therapist to assess your child.

Which one you require will depend on the cause of the poor handwriting, and sometimes both are even required.

1. Poor Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills refers to the set of skills your child needs to develop to make smaller movements with their limbs and face.

This includes brushing their teeth, zipping up a jacket, holding a ball, and of course, handwriting.

Contrast this with gross motor skills – these are larger movements that require your whole body, like running, jumping or crawling.

Gross motor skills tend to be the domain of a pediatric physical therapist.

On the other hand, if your child has issues with fine motor skills, a pediatric occupational therapist is their best bet.

The good news is that fine motor skills can be improved by having your child practice fine motor activities that don’t have to be specifically writing based.

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2. Poor Visual Motor Integration

Another possible cause of your child’s poor handwriting is poor visual motor integration.

This is the communication between your child’s visual and motor systems.

With strong visual motor integration, your child should be able to copy shapes and numbers easily because this involves planning the movement of the character formation before they do it.

If these skills are not integrated, it gets very challenging to do this even if both skills are independently strong.

This is another area where an occupational therapist can help.

3. Orthographic Coding Issues

Orthographic coding includes the skills required for your child to remember what a word or letter looks like.

They are also involved in the formation of these words.

Orthographic coding issues are often present if you notice that your child always forms a letter differently each time they write it.

This is especially common if they are copying out the same letter many times in one exercise and you see that each time it is formed differently.

You could also notice a lot of hesitation and concentration thinking about where they should start their letter and retracing it to see where the next part should go.

Orthographic coding issues are a subtype of dyslexia, so pediatric speech therapy treatments for dyslexia can help.

4. Autism Spectrum Disorder

If your child is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, this could be affecting their handwriting.

In addition to fine motor skills challenges, children with autism may have an issue with mirror writing.

Mirror writing involves perceiving the letter either correctly or in reverse, and then writing the letter how they perceive it.

If they’re seeing it in reverse, this could be an indication of a visual processing issue.

If they’re just having trouble writing it, then it could be due to poor memory on the formation of the letter.

Depending on the nature of this challenge, either a pediatric speech therapist or pediatric occupational therapy for autism spectrum disorder can help with this.

5. Dyslexia

Finally, another possible cause of your child’s poor handwriting could be dyslexia.

Dyslexia is a disorder that is characterized by poor word reading, word decoding, oral reading fluency, and spelling.

If your child has dyslexia, they might have reduced orthographic and phonological coding, reduced rapid automatic naming, and reduced sustained attention.

As mentioned above, orthographic coding issues are a subtype of dyslexia, but there are a number of other forms as well which can lead to handwriting issues.

A pediatric speech therapist can be a great resource to use if you suspect your child might be dyslexic.

Book Your Appointment With Triumph Therapeutics Today

There are a variety of factors that may be causing your child’s poor handwriting.

The good news is that there are equally a variety of ways that a pediatric speech therapist or a pediatric occupational therapist can help them, depending on the cause of their poor handwriting.

Therapy for poor handwriting is more effective if you begin as soon as you notice that your child is struggling.

This allows less time for bad habits to get ingrained.

At Triumph Therapeutics, our team of pediatric occupational therapists and speech therapists can support your child and develop their handwriting abilities.

To get started, book an appointment with Triumph Therapeutics today.

If you’re ready to take the next step, reach out today for a free phone consultation.

Triumph Therapeutics
4900 Massachusetts Ave NW suite 340,
Washington, DC 20016

(202) 621-9793
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Triumph Therapeutics is a team of highly experienced pediatric therapists specializing in physical therapy, speech language therapy, and occupation therapy for children, adolescents and their families as they work to reach their growth and wellness goals