Pencil grip disorders

Low muscular tone in the small muscles of the hands is sometimes suggested as the reason for specific writing difficulty. Muscular tone is ascertained by the degree of resistance felt when a tester moves relaxed muscles. Low tone, therefore, implies a certain ‘floppiness’ of muscles.

While the tone in the hand muscles of some children with writing difficulty is low, it is unlikely that this is the whole explanation for their difficulties. In such cases, an additional problem, such as dyspraxia or visual perception deficit, is usually present. It is only in very rare cases that extremely low tone combined with very lax joint ligaments of the hand makes the hand so unstable that it is difficult to control the pencil.

Visual memory deficit

This is a defect that occurs in the rare child who copies well, but is unable to write from dictation. The defect is in the ability to remember the shape of the letters.

Spatial planning deficit

This would explain those children who have particular difficulty arranging their writing on the page.

Diminished rate of processing

This may occur in children whose writing is very slow. The process of writing is normal, but so slowed down that if the child attempts to go at normal speed, the writing becomes disorganized.

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