Potential Occupational Therapy for Children

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Does it matter if my child doesn’t have the perfect pencil grip??

I get asked this question a lot by parents – “Does it really matter if my child doesn’t have the perfect pencil grip – I never did – I still don’t, and it hasn’t done me any harm”. But generally, on further discussion it appears that they may have not come out as unscathed as they initially thought. Most will concede to having a sore hand when required to write more than a few sentences, – and that’s if you can read those sentences, as they continue to describe their handwriting as anything from – “not that neat” to “terrible”, “atrocious” even “Illegible”. So what initially appeared to “not do any harm” has in fact, had a reasonably significant (negative) impact on their writing history.

Whilst it may not be of paramount importance if you do not have the “perfect” pencil grip, what is important is that a pencil grip is functional, it does not cause pain or fatigue when writing, it provides neat – legible written work and writing tasks aren’t cut short simply because your hand won’t write fast enough for you to get all of your ideas down on paper – particularly if a task is timed – eg exams. Research provides, that the most likely grip to achieve all this – is in fact the dynamic tripod gasp – or “perfect pencil grip”. So, if the research provides that a dynamic tripod grasp is the “easiest’ and “most successful” pencil grip, the question must be asked – if your child doesn’t have a dynamic tripod grasp – why not?? why do they hold their pencil the way they do – why do they need all of their fingers up holding the pencil shaft? or, why do they need their thumb to wrap around the top of not only the pencil but their index and middle finger as well – squeezing so tight they are quite literally strangling the pencil and cutting off the circulation to their fingers? Or why is your child’s pencil grasp so weak that you can hardly see what they have written on the page? Is it a strength problem? a proprioceptive difficulty? a dexterity or manipulation difficulty? and if it is – is it affecting any other tasks they do with their fingers / hands? But don’t worry if some of the above is ringing true for your child – there are lots of things to do and try that will help get your child’s fingers working more effectively for them, making it easier for them to develop a more functional – pain free pencil grip!

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