Sensory Strategies for Handwriting Skills



                                                 
                                                          


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Lewis is a 5-year old child who has recently joined pre-school. According to his parents he is very active, energetic and friendly boy who likes running in ground, spinning, jumping, watching Doctor Who and talking to everyone. After working with Lewis for a week, his class teacher discovered some unique habits, characteristics and behaviours of him which were as follows:
  • While sitting in his chair or writing he slouches without him knowing about it. Likes wandering in the classroom and “always on a go”. He cannot sit for more than 10-12 minutes in his place.
  • Doesn’t like playing with Lego or construction toys.
  • Easily distracted by background sounds or outside noise (e.g., bird chirping or vehicle passing by)
  • Gets confused with letters and numbers while reading and writing
  • He is right handed but often uses left hand to write.
  • While writing he goes out of space without realising it.

When these observations were discussed with school OT, she strongly recommended him for Sensory Integration assessment as all above stated features were part of sensory difficulties which were interfering in his handwriting, self-care, fine motor skills and day to day activities.

Handwriting is an important functional task for school aged children and primary way to express thoughts, ideas and knowledge, and emotions. Composing stories, expressing own emotions, copying numbers, from the blackboard, completing school assignments, writing formal letters, or applications all needs precise handwriting skill. 

According to Case-smith (1992), children began to draw and scribble on paper as soon as they are able to grasp a writing tool. The development of writing process in early years includes scribbling, drawing lines and circles.

During 7-8 years they learn to use the different functional tool such as
knife and fork, scissors, pencils, zippers, buttons, brooms. They learn to plan and sequence actions which are the important part of motor planning. 
Developing ideas, for building blocks, construction toys, Legos, sand castles, are taken enthusiastically. All these experiences of childhood enable a developing brain to work efficiently and organise incoming sensory information received from different sense organs.

However, for an atypically growing child these opportunities and playful scenarios are sensory challenges. They may experience stress in the case in the course of the day to day tasks related to fine motor, gross motor and handwriting skills.

These children are reluctant to write, easily tired, seen slouching in their chair, their desk is often disorganised, may drop things in hand and may display behavioural issues due to frustration, the anger of not being able to accomplish tasks in hand and other sensory difficulties.


DIY Sensory Feel & Find Me Box



                               
                                         


                               (Developmental Age: 5 years onwards)

We all are very much in love with different sensory activities as they are engaging, fascinating and nurturing,keeping us calm, alert and organised in our day to day accomplishments. Besides activating (alerting sensory activities) or relaxing (calming sensory activities) different sense organs, these tasks improve self-regulation, fine motor coordination, eye-hand coordination, laterality and dexterity.

At the same time, sensory fun can rescue our ASD, ADHD and SPD children from meltdowns, anxieties or sensory overloads due to their nature and character.