Thursday, 19 March 2015

Handwriting Helpers!

Many of us have children who struggle with handwriting. While many have tried different methods, fun materials, lots of encouragement etc, often the problem is low muscle tone in the hands and pain when handwriting. 

One thing we have done lots of, is therapy.  We spent years (5+) having Occupational Therapy (OT) and concentrated on fine motor skills, specifically strengthening the hand muscles for handwriting. These days our OT is for both gross motor and fine motor, and helps with my son's Joint Hypermobility Syndrome and his super low tone. Point is, we've done the hard yards, we've done all the recommended exercises and home therapy programs too. We've tried every finger grip and type of pencil we could find and we got to a point where my son could write, and write neatly (when he put his mind to it) but still could not write a lot and not fast. It still hurts him. Given his condition it probably always will. I doubt he will become a Calligraphy artist LOL. 

Now I admit, you get sick of looking for new options and searching online.  So I haven't done it in quite a while.  But I found two things last month that have been working really well for us and I wanted to share.  

First is the RinG-Pen Ultra.  I bought it from My Diffability Australia. This has been my son's preferred option for handwriting. All other pencil grips still required him to put the pressure on the pencil to hold it so no matter how soft the grip was, how bulky it was etc, he still had to hold his fingers there using his muscles and that got painful. The Ring-Pen Ultra is a little different. It holds the pencil or pen and you put it on your finger like a ring and lay the finger in place. The ring grip holds the pencil in place, not the muscles of the finger. My son has said he doesn't have to grip as hard and can rest his fingers more. My son (like me) is ambidextrous and we have been able to use it on both hands with no trouble. Really loving it! 

What's fantastic about this little gadget, is that you can also use it for cutlery and things like paintbrushes. My boy uses the small size (yellow) while I use the medium (white) and large (black) sizes. Yes I bought all three so he has them as he grows.

The other item I bought from My Diffability Australia is the Twist n Write Pencil (you can get a pen as well) and some refill packs (think awesome new version of a Pacer led refill pencil). These are super cute and I think the fun factor is what my son loves.  He uses these when doing Mathematics mainly. I think because he isn't writing as much (as mentioned above he likes the RinG-Pen Ultra for larger amounts of writing) and he said it makes numbers easier to form.  I've seen the improvement in his number writing so I'm converted LOL.

Anyway, both are great, wanted to share in case others are struggling to find something other than the standard versions of pencil grips.

While I am at it, I will also say (and no I am not being paid in anyway for this review) that the company My Diffabilty Australia, were fantastic to deal with. Having a son with Aspergers there are things I need to request for him colour wise. I couldn't have a pink Twist'n'Write Pencil turn up in our pack LOL. So I emailed them and they made sure our multi pack was definitely a 'no pink' pack. They were fast to reply, happy to help and I found their ordering system great and their website easy to navigate. 

If you already use these products, would love to hear in the comments below.  

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