Thursday, December 15, 2011


Handwriting is a huge topic currently in occupational therapy and the education field in general. Cursive handwriting was eliminated from the Common Core State Standards, which 40 states follow. Most states still teach cursive, but are considering dropping it since there is no longer a standard. Schools are instead encouraging typing as technology evolves. Handwriting (cursive and print) is also being put on the back burner because teachers have so many other standards they must meet. To many Americans the loss of handwriting is not a concern and instead is seen as the education system adapting to the changing environment, but to an occupational therapist this trend is leading to a variety of problems and raising concerns.

If handwriting is decreased or eliminated in schools, then fine motor skills are going to deteriorate according to many. This connection has not been proven since typing requires fine motor skills too, but some have found that handwriting offers benefits to cognition and memory that typing does not. This is likely because the brain has to be more engaged to produce a shape versus hitting the correct key. A few also point out that handwriting offers a way of personal expression that typing does not. Not only does handwriting have more variety than typing, but children write more and faster.

Handwriting has causing another set of concerns for another population. More people are learning about occupational therapy everyday, but many just know us as handwriting experts. Many students in school are being referred to occupational therapy for handwriting, but not because of underlying issues, but instead because not enough time is being spent on handwriting in the classroom. As much as I would love to help every person function better, is helping children who just need a little more instruction on handwriting the best use of our time? Occupational therapists need to make sure their expertise is being used properly, especially when it comes to handwriting, and they are not just another set of hands.   


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