Helping children develop handwriting skills is a big part of being a pediatric occupational therapist. As a sensory integration therapist, I love to utilize sensory elements into handwriting training. Various techniques I have integrated into my practice include:
- Manipulating the sensory stimulation in the environment, such as lights and sounds, to help the child focus and attend.
- Positioning the child on a ball, a wedge, or a move ‘n sit to activate the core muscles, help the child sustain attention, and increase arousal level.
- Introducing different writing surfaces, such as a horizontal or vertical surface or an incline in order to change the child’s sensory feedback and improve the positioning of the arm and hand.
- Exploring with various paper to increase resistance, encourage improved pencil pressure, and give more feedback concerning baseline or spacing.
- Utilizing various writing utensils, including utensils of various size, weight, and shape to encourage development of pencil grasp, provide additional sensory feedback, and promote muscle and fine motor development.
Considering how much time I spend working with children on their writing skills, I absolutely love having the opportunity to try new products. So I was nothing less than thrilled when I was given the opportunity to review a new vibrating pencil. I have utilized squiggle pens into my practice in the past; however, I did not like how the type and intensity of vibration resulted in uncontrolled and sloppy strokes.
Vibration is a useful sensory tool in handwriting training for a number of reasons:
- Increases the child’s awareness of hand positioning and movements, which helps to develop grasp and formation of strokes
- Increases arousal level and helps to improve focus
- Stimulates intrinsic hand muscles for development of fine motor skills
- Encourages appropriate grip strength and improved pencil pressure
The Tran-Quill Pencil from ARK Therapeutic Services, Inc provides the child with a smooth vibration that does not affect the quality of their writing. I also love the weight and texture of the utensil, which provides additional sensory stimulation and feedback. The pencil comes in a plastic option, with 4 different colors, or a metal option. It also includes 6 pencils, 1 pencil sharpener, 3 Bite-n-Chew Tips, and a handy Carry Case. The Bite-n-Chew Tips are chewable erasers, which are fabulous for those children that seek or need additional oral input.
My 3 year old daughter loved trying out the Tran-Quill pencil. She loved the feedback of the vibration.My 11 month old son, on the other hand, LOVED the chewable erasers, which also doubled as a teething toy!
Give it a try for yourself by entering to win a Tran-Quill Pencil of your own. To enter, leave a comment specifying which color you would want (royal blue, light blue, lavender, or magenta) – be sure to also leave a correct email address. Good luck! Winner will be chosen Friday March 28th, 2014.