What About That Pencil Grasp?

As a school based occupational therapist, I’ve received my fair share of referrals for OT services regarding students’ pencil grasp. There’s just something about an awkward grasp that really stands out among a class of students. These awkward grasp patterns may be due to any number of factors, such as lack of exposure, underdeveloped palmar arches, muscle weakness, hypo/hypertonicity, or poor fine motor skills.

Whatever the cause may be, when evaluating a child’s grasp pattern, we ultimately want to look at the functionality of the grasp. For example, is the student able to make precise/controlled movements with their pencil? Is their writing legible? Are they able to maintain the grasp pattern without fatiguing easily? Are they using an appropriate amount of pressure when writing? Are they able to keep up with the pace of writing required in their class? If the answer to these questions is ‘yes’, that would indicate a functional grasp pattern for that child.

Other factors to consider would be the child’s age/grade and how long they have been utilizing a particular grasp pattern. The best time to work on adjusting a child’s grasp is early on, before bad habits are picked up. It is very difficult, and not overwhelmingly successful, to try to change a student’s grasp pattern after it has become routine for them. If a child’s grasp isn’t found to be functional, depending on the underlying factors, there are a variety of pencil grips that may be utilized. It may also be time to discuss the use of technology or classroom accommodations to assist the student in demonstrating their knowledge.

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s grasp patterns, please contact us at Sidekick Therapy Partners.

-Glenna Nave, M.S. OTR/L