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Q&A: Handwriting Speed and Legibility Difficulties?


I am an OT treating a 12-year-old girl with handwriting speed and legibility difficulties. Her sensory processing issues include toe walking and poor body awareness in general. What therapeutic activities would be beneficial to her?


Here’s how I would structure a typical treatment session to help this girl overcome her handwriting speed and legibility difficulties. Start with activities that involve a prone position and require heavy work (proprioceptive input). Toe walking is an indicator that she needs a lot of proprioceptive input, and these types of activities are best for developing body awareness. Here are some examples:

  • Put her on her tummy on a scooter and let her use her hands to move herself around.
  • Place her prone over a therapy ball to do a puzzle or other activity.

Next, tackle handwriting. If she’s primarily struggling with speed and legibility, it is likely that she may never have developed automatic handwriting. Try this:

  • Have her stand in front of a chalkboard and print a sentence at eye level. Make sure she prints large enough, so she has to use shoulder and elbow movements. The more joints involved, the better the information is processed.
  • Ask her to write the same sentence in a way that provides tactile feedback, such as using her finger to write in a sand tray or in shaving cream.

These strategies will help her handwriting become more automatic and fluid. For additional input to increase body awareness, she could complete these activities while wearing ankle and wrist weights.

On the home front, I would recommend a sensory diet that includes a trampoline and LOTS of gross motor play in general (biking, jumping rope, swinging, etc.).

Best Wishes,