Are you Handwriting your holiday message to make it special for your loved ones?

It would feel so loved and so special to receive a holiday message lovingly handwritten on a beautiful card. A handwritten message conveys the warmth and gives the message a special touch. In our lives of technology with email messages, online greeting cards and commercial market products making the gifts on special occasions, the Handwritten message could always standout as extra special. Handwriting a message could be so inexpensive and so simple.

Simple, I say. Yet some children and adults would attest that they wish to be spared from having to apply handwriting skills. Handwriting is a presentation of who you are on the paper and presentation should be impressive. If you scribble something on paper that the reader could not read it could be a source of embarrassment. Handwriting also still remains the primary tool of communication and knowledge assessment for school-going students.

Handwriting is a very complex and demanding motor task. It is influenced by the development of appropriate sensorimotor, perceptual and cognitive skills. The skill of handwriting requires several underlying skills to develop before a student can effectively write. Good postural stability and control which is the ability to maintain an upright posture while seated is necessary to facilitate refined arm and hand skills. Perceptual, sensory integrative and motor skills are some of the skills that form the bedrock or the foundational skills necessary to handwrite.

Mastery of these skills enables children to focus on the content of their writing rather than the mechanics of pencil control, pencil grasp, speed and movement. Students who struggle with handwriting in school often get referred to occupational therapy. Occupational therapist has the expertise to determine the underlying causes of dysfunction, the student’s readiness to write and plan and implement the intervention that would be the most appropriate.

Pediatric Occupational Therapy uses the tools and standardized tests to evaluate handwriting problems. There are several factors that influence handwriting success. Several developmental skills including postural control, neuromuscular and sensory integration correlate to handwriting. If you notice your child having struggles with handwriting, grasping his pencil or maintaining posture while writing, he or she may be having difficulty with some underlying component of this complex task. Difficulty with handwriting affects school success and self esteem. The concerns for handwriting can often be remediated well when they are evaluated at an early age by skilled occupational therapist and given the benefit of appropriate therapeutic intervention. So as we celebrate our joys this season we can make the beautifully handwritten holiday message count in our blessings!

Harsha RaHarshana OTR/L, MBA, Certified in Sensory Integration

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