Barbara Wagner, a mother of two boys with autism spectrum disorders, enrolled her older son, Austin, 14, in the study, although she knew beforehand there was something different about how he wrote.
For the study, which was done at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, researchers gave a handwriting test to 14 children with autism (ages 8 to 13) who had normal IQs and 14 children with normal development.
Should problems occur from lax joints or immature or unusual grasp, then the child may be referred to an occupational therapist or physiotherapist for assessment and remedial activities. This should be a priority with a young child, since so much schoolwork requires the use of a pencil or pen.
- For Intelligent Children With Autism, Handwriting Is Barrier
- Emerging Writing Skills Scribe & Copy
- The Movement Profile Associated with Autism
- The mental planning and coordination of movement
- R Kedhar
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For Intelligent Children With Autism, Handwriting Is Barrier
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Nov. 10, 2009— — For most kids, learning handwriting can be dull and repetitive, but it’s a task mastered midway through elementary school.
While researchers may have realized that many autistic children have bad handwriting, they did not know if it related to their autism, or whether it was a problem understanding the forming of words, or whether it had to do with motor skills.
Emerging Writing Skills Scribe & Copy
In summary, autism is associated with a range of movement disorders that will affect the expression of academic abilities in the classroom and social play in the playground. However, some autistic children have the potential to participate and enjoy a variety of solitary sports.
For many children with autism, though — even those with higher IQs than most — handwriting becomes an arduous chore, because the very act of writing letters takes them so long to do.
“When they print, they don’t like you and I do,” she said. “They actually draw their letters. It’s really slow,” explaining that when she watches her son, he is very deliberate.
The Movement Profile Associated with Autism
For some kids with autism, penmanship is their biggest enemy in the classroom.
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The mental planning and coordination of movement
“What we were interested in is understanding whether a problem of something as important as handwriting, which folks need for school and general life, whether that deficit is really due to a problem with controlling movement, versus some other problem,” said Amy Bastian, an author of the study and director of the motion analysis lab at Kennedy Krieger. “What we found is these kids have handwriting problems that really correlate with their motor findings.”
While we know that autism can be associated with impaired movement abilities, we have known many autistic children who have achieved abilities in movement skills that have been exceptional and contributed towards winning national and international championships. The movement disturbance does not appear to affect some sporting activities such as surfing, using the trampoline, playing golf and horse riding. These are activities that can be practised in solitude. Because of relative success in these activities, the autistic child can develop a special interest in the activity and with extensive practice and single-minded determination, achieve a level of proficiency that reaches a very high standard.
A new study out this week in the journal Neurology explains some of the reasons for that phenomenon — and why bad handwriting might even lead to nonverbal communication problems.
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While handwriting may seem a relatively minor problem, it can greatly affect an autistic child who is otherwise functioning at the expected or a better-than-expected level.
There can be ability with endurance sports such as marathon running. Once the running movement has become efficient, the autistic adolescent or adult can be remarkably tolerant of discomfort and able to just keep running. Some sports such as fencing can be enjoyed as the participants wear a mask ( reducing the need to engaging in eye contact with the opponent) and there are set movements and responses to learn. Martial arts can also be appealing, especially if there is a slow-motion approach to initially learning defensive and offensive actions. The history and culture of martial arts can also be an intellectual interest for the autistic child. The indoor game of snooker is not a sport associated with motor agility, but autistic adolescents can have a natural understanding of the geometry of the moving balls and the pockets on a snooker table.