Starfish Therapies

September 26, 2012

Taking the visual out of handwriting practice

I love having students in our practice.  Not only do they challenge us as therapists to be deliberate and think about why we do what we do, but they also bring an influx of ideas in and add to our overall toolbox.  Our most recent OT student shared this idea with us that she did a paper on in grad school.

Her paper focused on a child with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) and handwriting. The resources (Benbow, 2006; Ziviani & Wallenberg, 2006) suggest that a child’s slow performance in writing is a result of compensation strategies of decreased visual motor control with greater reliance on visual monitoring.  Some of the sources suggest that helping a child to develop kinesthetic memory and kinesthetic feedback can be beneficial. Activities that develop kinesthetic memory will increase internal sensitivity to when a letter movement is correct. Kinesthetic feedback can be developed while minimizing visual motor control (i.e. taking vision out of the equation).

An example of an activity includes having the child place an object on the desk surface within their reach. Then have the child place their hands on their lap and reach for the object with their eyes shut.  They tried this strategy with one of their kiddos who was able to reach for the object, but miscalculated and placed their hand directly to the side of the object on the first try.

The resources suggest this can be applied to handwriting by blindfolding the child while they write a couple of letters of the alphabet. Or, for those kiddos that would not do well with blindfolding, stick a pen through a paper plate and have them write a  few letters. If this is continuously practiced, the movement patterns will be part of the child’s kinesthetic memory. Eventually, handwriting will progress in speed and ease with less visual monitoring.


Benbow, M. (2006). Principles and practices of teaching handwriting. In A. Henderson & C. Pehoski (Eds.) Hand function in the child: Foundations for remediation (pp. 319-342). St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier.

Ziviani, J. & Wallenberg, M. (2006). The development of graphomotor skills. In A. Henderson & C. Pehoski (Eds.) Hand function in the child: Foundations for remediation (pp. 217-236). St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier.


  1. Sounds interesting. I will give it a try.

    Comment by Tonya — September 26, 2012 @ 12:39 pm | Reply

  2. I worked with adults with developmental disabilities many years ago. When a group went on a field trip they were encouraged to draw what they saw. When they returned, I asked them to draw what they remembered seeing. The drawings done from memory were much more accurate than those drawn from what they saw.

    Comment by Jacqueline Wertman, OTR/L — September 30, 2012 @ 6:45 pm | Reply

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