Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Handwriting in 7th Grade

This afternoon I observed one of my 7th graders in his science class. His teacher whispered to me that his fine motor skills were not so great and it negatively impacted his ability to take notes and draw illustrations for his lab write-ups, but that he really understood the material.

As usual, I walked around the class to view the notes of other students, to get a perspective of the range of abilities in the class. Eek! Many of the students wrote almost illegibly and their pencil grasps—yikes! Vicious left hooks, tightly fisted thumbs to palms, whole-hand grasps—how could they write like that? Plus, many of them wrote letters in awkward, inefficient ways with many of them starting letters from the baseline upward and mixing upper and lower case letters within a word.
You're right, this student isn't old enough to be in 7th grade.  But I do see grasps like this in 7th grade!
Every so often it’s good for me to observe my target OT student in their large, general education classes, to remind myself that the range of typical fine motor skills is very wide. My student demonstrates better pencil grasp and letter formation than many of the general education students in his honors science class, but has other factors which interfere with independent note taking.

Even if he had perfect fine motor skills his disorganization, difficulties with receptive language and understanding non-verbal communication would still impair his ability to be independent with note taking in class. Good thing there is a whole team of professionals working with him, and not just the person who knows about how to make hands work better.

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