Are pencil grips ok or not?

by Anon
(United States)

(OT Mom added this pic of a child using a pencil grip)

(OT Mom added this pic of a child using a pencil grip)

I recently spent six hours at a symposium on ADHD and dyslexia - the lecturer mentioned she 'uses pencil grips' for all their children with pencil grasp problems. She did add their writing got worse before it got better.

One of my (adult) students who was an OT told me she recommended pencil grippers, but specified I should offer a variety - because she felt a child accommodated to a particular gripper then went right back to an inappropriate three-prong
grasp with a pencil after a gripper was removed.

So, is there just disagreement in the field regarding this question?

Comments for Are pencil grips ok or not?

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I issue pencil grips only after intervention!
by: OT Mom

It is a tricky one. I liken it to painting over a crack in the wall instead of filling in it properly - sooner or later the crack appears again, which is what the OT is saying - take away the gripper and they go back to their old ways.

My personal preference is to work on the underlying cause - WHY is their pencil grip so poor - are they compensating for poor shoulder girdle stability, or poor tactile perception, or poor hand muscle function? In the past, I would have recommended against issuing a pencil grip until the underlying cause is sorted out.

Sometimes what happens is that the child will, after intervention, develop the muscles of the hand, and then they will get refined finger movements but still hold the pencil awkwardly out of habit. If the pencil grasp is functional (ie the child is using refined finger movements instead of wrist/arm movements, and is not getting tired, then i don't stress too much. But if the only way they can get refined finger movements after intervention is by using the pencil gripper, then I issue one.

I personally have found that issuing a pencil gripper without working on the underlying base does not solve the problem in the long run - the child still tires easily when writing, or still presses hard, or still wraps his fingers around the gripper awkwardly!! Perhaps if I persevered, I would find what your lecturer found - that it eventually gets better - but has it really helped the child or have they just learn to compensate???!!

However, I do recommend that children with poor fine motor skills use thick pencils, crayons and koki's, as it really does make it MUCH easier for them to control their finger movements. So, if I was not able to work with a child, and no intervention was possible, I would personally not issue a pencil gripper, I would give them thick pencils etc to work with just to make their life easier!

by: Sarah

What is a koki?

by: OT Mom

Sorry ;-) local jargon! You probably know them as felt tip pens :-) I have no idea why they are called Koki's!

Of Koki's and other South African words
by: OT Mom's husband :-)

FYI, see, regarding 'koki' and other peculiar-isms of South African English.

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