Handwriting problems may offer clues about how the brains of kids with autism function and what types of interventions could help overcome such difficulties, the study authors explained.
Handwriting is important for success in school, in social life and on the job, said Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer at Autism Speaks. Being able to write clearly is even more important for people who have difficulty communicating verbally, as many with autism do.
"Almost every subject taught in school requires handwriting skills, so if a child or adolescent has writing difficulties, this can be very frustrating," Dawson said. "Kids with autism may need more time to complete their tests and homework."
An occupational therapist can determine why a child or adolescent is having difficulty writing and offer help, Dawson said.
"Handwriting requires many skills, including visual skills, hand strength, memory, and good posture," Dawson said. "Different kids have different problems, so it is important to individualize the methods used to improve handwriting."
Therapies that may work include using special pencil grippers, lined paper and exercises to improve posture, coordination and strength. Some kids find that using a computer or other keyboard is much easier than writing.
"Using an alternative form of communication, such as a keyboard, can make a world of difference for some kids," Dawson said.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more on autism.
-- Jenifer Goodwin
SOURCES: Kennedy Krieger Institute, news release, Nov. 15, 2010; American Academy of Neurology, news release, Nov. 15, 2010; Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., chief science officer, Autism Speaks, New York City'/>"/>
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