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What Role Does the Sensory System Play in Handwriting?

What Role Does the Sensory System Play in Handwriting from Your Therapy Source

The sensory motor system plays a vital role in the ability to produce functional handwriting. Yes, handwriting obviously requires motor movements – fine motor skills to hold the writing utensil, wrist and shoulder movements to move the arm across the page and postural movements to hold the body upright.  From the surface it may appear that handwriting is strictly motor movements to control a writing utensil.  Keep in mind that the sensory system plays just as important of a role to establish effective handwriting.  Here are the four sensory components that influence handwriting:

  1.  Visual system – the eyes need to register visual input correctly in order to produce legible and efficient handwriting.
  2. Proprioceptive system – the joints and muscles need to provide information on how much pressure to put on the writing utensil and how much the muscles should respond to move the fingers on the writing utensil and hand/shoulder complex along the paper.
  3. Tactile system – the hand needs information on where and how to touch the writing utensils and paper.
  4. Vestibular system – the inner ear helps to distinguish where to position the head, neck and trunk in order to maintain visual focus and an upright posture.

This is why sensory processing activities such as wall push ups, finger push ups, finger massages, etc. can be effective warm up activities prior to handwriting practice.  In order for an appropriate motor output to be formed (legible handwriting), the incoming sensory information needs to be processed correctly.

Handwriting Stations from http://www.yourtherapysource.com/hwstation.html

Handwriting Stations include the materials to create a handwriting station on a tri-fold or in a folder. The station includes proper letter formation for capital and lower case letters, correct posture, pencil grip, warm up exercises, letter reversals tips and self check sheet. In addition, there are 27 worksheets for the alphabet and number practice (Handwriting without Tears® style and Zaner-Bloser® style). This download is great for classroom use, therapy sessions or to send home with a student. FIND OUT MORE at http://www.yourtherapysource.com/hwstation.html