ASD and handwriting problems

In November of 2009, Kennedy Krieger Institute (KKI) researchers conducted the first study on handwriting quality in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  The study confirmed that handwriting is a real problem for individuals with autism.  Children with autism struggle to form letters correctly, although their “size, alignment and spacing… [is] comparable to typically developing children” (KKI).  The root cause, as identified by KKI researchers, was fine motor control.  The study compared “handwriting samples, motor skills and visuospatial abilities of children with ASD to typically developing children” (KKI).A subsequent study, conducted in November 2010 and published in the 16 November 2010 of Neurology, suggests that handwriting problems in children with ASD continue into teen years (ages 12 to 16).  Two groups, each consisting of 12 individuals with ASD or unaffected by the disorder, were examined.  The group of adolescents with ASD exhibited “poor handwriting and motor skill impairments when compared to typically developing peers” (KKI).  However, in the adolescent group, perceptual reasoning abilities were the greatest indicator of handwriting deficits.  Perceptual reasoning abilities “reflect a person’s ability to reason through problems with nonverbal material” (Science Daily).   Out of 204 possible points, the adolescents with autism earned only 167 points, compared to 183 earned by typically developing peers.

Dr. Amy Bastian, the study author, stated, “There are several techniques available to improve handwriting quality, such as adjusting pencil grip, stabilizing the writing hand with the opposite hand or forming letters more slowly.”

The techniques of which Dr. Bastian speaks are all excellent for lessening the degree of handwriting problems, but they do not address the neurological basis for the problems.   Brainjogging actually improves students’ visuospatial abilities and perceptual reasoning, which allows students with autism to realize a difference in their handwriting, among other benefits.

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