I also have a poor pencil grip and I coped fine!

by Michelle
(South Africa)

My child's teacher says that she has poor fine motor skills. I can see that her pencil grip is really lousy. But I also have a poor pencil grip, and I coped fine at school.

Is it really important in the long run for me to take her to occupational therapy? It is so expensive and if I coped with my own poor pencil grip, then surely she will too? Isn't occupational therapy just a fad of the times?

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Poor fine motor skills can really affect a child's school skills!
by: OT Mom

Hi Michelle!

You did not say how old your child is, but I assume he/she is still in the early years of school??

There are many adults with lousy pencil grips like you, who seem to cope ok, and children with poor fine motor skills will eventually learn to write, but I have seen lots of long-term effects of not remedying a poor pencil grip:

1) Their bodies will compensate for their poor skills by using less efficient muscles to do the job. For example, by using wrist muscles instead of finger muscles, or by tensing up their neck muscles.

2) In the long run, they may well complain of fatigue and neck-ache when faced with writing tasks

3) A poor pencil grip may also cause a child to struggle to finish written tests and essays in the given time.

4) If their handwriting is poor, this may also count against them as many teachers don't take the time to decipher messy writing, and they may score lower marks than they deserve in exams.

We are not trying to create perfect children, but we do want to help them to have the best chance at doing well in their lives. And while we may not be able to "cure" children with poor fine motor skills, or make them have a perfect pencil grip, we can help them to be as functional as possible.

If occupational therapy is too expensive, why not try some of the Fine Motor Activities that I suggest on this site? Or buy my inexpensive Fine Motor Activities Ebook for an accessible and comprehensive way to help your child at home.

I hope this helps you!
Kind regards,
OT Mom

Unless she's struggling, it's probably not worth the money
by: Anonymous

I also have a very weird pencil grip, grasping it with all 5 fingers- nobody can figure out how on earth I write like that! Yes, my writing isn't the neatest, but apart from pen all over my hand and slightly smudged work, it didn't affect me at all (I can write very quickly, fairly neatly if I write slower).

My grip hasn't given me poor posture, or hurt me in anyway like my preschool teacher said it would, or anything like that, so unless your child is struggling to write as quick as a child normally would, her pencil grip hurts her, she tires from writing very quickly, or her handwriting is plain illegible, then maybe I would suggest a visit to the doctor to get her motor skills checked out or maybe even buying a pencil grip to help correct it (although this never helped me!), but I don't believe occupational therapy is worth the money unless the grip is really hindering her and her poor fine motor skills are really affecting- otherwise, just let her get on with it :)

helping your daughter
by: OT Mom

I agree with anonymous that giving a pencil grip will probably not solve the problem.

However, going to the doctor won't, either :-)!

If your child has a real problem with handwriting (painful, slow, illegible, tiring, incomplete work) then an occupational therapist will assess your child to figure out the root causes of the problem. If she picks up a serious disorder (like muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy etc), then a visit to the pediatrician will be in order. But otherwise the OT is trained to evaluate why your child is struggling, and to either offer you a home program or offer therapy intervention if necessary. Or she may tell you that the grip is not interfering with her function at all!

But do listen to the teacher's concerns and ask whether an OT evaluation is really necessary. She will have seen many children pass through her classes and will have a pretty good idea of which children are coping and which are not, and will also have a feel for whether your child's pencil grip will hinder her later on in her school career.

She has your child's best interests at heart!


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