08 November, 2013

Pencil grip: not as important as we thought?

I don't often write about my Occupational Therapy "hat" here, but I came across a study on pencil grip and this stunning conclusion that challenges popular opinion:
There was no difference in the quality or speed scores among the different pencil grasps before and after the copy task. The dynamic tripod pencil grasp did not offer any advantage over the lateral tripod or the dynamic or lateral quadrupod pencil grasps in terms of quality of handwriting after a 10-minute copy task. These four pencil grasp patterns performed equivalently. Our findings question the practice of having students adopt the dynamic tripod pencil grasp. 
This was published in the Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, June 2012.You can read the abstract here. 
Pencil grip is one of the most common problems people talk to paediatric OTs about within mainstream education. This is quite a finding because it's been assumed for a long time that dynamic tripod*, is the only valid grip. Much anxiety and pain has resulted from children not wanting to use this grip.

This illustration of mature pencil grips comes from here.

The article ends with a recommendation that the dynamic tripod rasp be recommended for children when they commence writing. But if difficulties occur and one of the above four grasps are being used, then remediation should look beyond correcting the pencil grasp to other factors impacting writing. In fact, it has been proven that it is intensely difficult to change a child's pencil grip beyond the beginning of second grade (though I've heard of it being done, but only when the child has high motivation).

*Fingers involved include the thumb opposed to the index and middle fingers, with all three fingers positioned in a tripod. The ring and little finger stabilise against the writing surface.

1 comment:

andrea said...

interesting stuff- but try telling this to a Japanese 1st grade teacher...(or me twelve years ago, when I was pretty dogmatic about my views in response to that 1st grade teacher..)