Washington: Autistic children are more likely to have handwriting problems than those without autism, according to a new study.
The study, conducted by researchers at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, compared handwriting samples, motor skills, and visuospatial abilities of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) to typically developing children.
The researchers found that overall, the handwriting of children with ASD was worse than typically developing children.
Specifically, children with ASD had trouble with forming letters, however in other categories, such as size, alignment, and spacing, their handwriting was comparable to typically developing children.
Parents of children with ASD are often the first ones to observe their child``s poor handwriting quality.
This study identifies fine motor control as a root source of the problem and demonstrates that children with ASD may not experience difficulties across all domains, just forming letters.
By identifying handwriting as a legitimate impairment, parents, teachers and therapists will now be able to pursue techniques that will improve children``s handwriting.
"The ability to keep up in classes and convey ideas through handwriting is fundamental to life," said Christina Fuentes, lead study author and researcher at the Kennedy Krieger Institute.
"Knowing the causes of impairment allows us to strategically identify techniques that will help children with ASD improve their handwriting.
“Our study suggests that teaching children how to form letters, in combination with general training of fine motor control through techniques that include stabilizing the arm and the use of proper writing utensils, may be the best direction for improving handwriting performance," Fuentes added.
The study has been published in the November 10, 2009, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.