How can I help my child hold a pen properly?

(35 Posts)
ChristmasSeacow Tue 14-Feb-17 09:08:15

Hi, I have a 4-yr old with ASD and hypermobility and a current obsession with letters! He has never really been interested in mark making before (he can't draw anything recognisable) but now he is trying to write. However, he gets very frustrated and upset when the letters don't go right!

He only has a fist grip and I don't think his writing will improve until he has a proper pen grip. I have tried chunkier pens and chunky pencils with a triangular profile but he still grips them in his fist. He doesn't really like to take advice /direction!

He is left handed and I am not, which isn't helping me to help him as I am rubbish with my left hand.

Any ideas /tricks?

Many thanks.

OP’s posts: |
Olympiathequeen Tue 14-Feb-17 11:16:57

Fledglings catalogue have a variety of pen holders. Worth a look.

frazzledbutcalm Tue 14-Feb-17 12:37:10

4 is still young to be holding a pencil correctly ... to me though, there is no correctly as such. School constantly tried to make my dc hold their pencil correctly, and join up their writing, without success. Roll on a few years and we've been told by OT that due to hypermobility the typical, correct finger position can't be adopted due to muscles, Sensory feedback etc. It's in the report that school must allow them to hold their pencil however they find comfy/easiest, and must be allowed to print rather than join up (if that's their preference) due to muscle fatigue. Also, we were advised chunky pens and pencils are best for my dc, school then provided these. They also provided the special scissors that ds could cut with more comfortably than standard scissors.

School should be able to give you an assortment of pencil grips and other resources to see if any help your ds. Maybe your ds could work on lines and squiggles first before trying letters and numbers? One thing we were advised was to fill a flatish box with sand and let ds write letters in the sand with his finger ... I know this won't help your ds to write/hold a pencil yet, but it may allow him to explore his current letter obsession?

Hope you find something that works or satisfies him soon. It's exhausting when you they're so desperate to do something but just can't quite do it.


zzzzz Tue 14-Feb-17 14:40:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

UserOO7 Tue 14-Feb-17 21:37:52

My child who is a bright little man with no SN got a decent pencil grip at 5.5. He writes beautifully at 7 and is doing academically well.

I'm glad I had him first, I worry far less about my younger having such a poor grip ( though weirdly despite a fist hold, poor language and focus she draws really well)

UserOO7 Tue 14-Feb-17 21:38:26

Oh and for my older one I let him use felt tips to write until he was able to use a pencil

Wheredidallthejaffacakesgo Tue 14-Feb-17 21:44:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tartanterror Tue 14-Feb-17 21:53:12

We used the Stabilo EasyErgo pencil - think they do left or right hand versions/ "The Greatest Dot to Dot Book" series are really good for developing handwriting/motor skills which lay the foundation for letters later on. After that was well sorted we used Magic Link Handwriting which was great and avoided the deadly lead-ins that caused us lots of problems.

ChristmasSeacow Tue 14-Feb-17 23:29:26

Thanks so much for the suggestions everyone (sorry for slow reply, been out all afternoon and then slightly burning a valentine's meal! hmm)

DS isn't at school yet as he is a September birthday. He is in nursery but they mostly just play. I am not in any hurry for him to write, it's DS that's in the hurry! He does draw the letters with one finger on an iPad app and also in the suede pile of the sofa (!) but he wasn't interested in sand or shaving foam on a mirror! While those options have helped with the letter obsession he seems to really want to be able to write with a pen/pencil. I will give one of those stabilo ones a try. I think dot-to-dot could also help him develop control so will try that too.

Frazzled I am interested in your mention of special scissors. I haven't really pursued this with him (no rush and he's not especially interested) but nursery have tried and say he struggles. I wonder whether some adaptation would help - do you know what the scissors are called?

Indidentally, if anyone is interested we also have this and he loves it! It's quite tactile and well made and I think is what has piqued his interest in writing for himself (rather than just playing with magnetic letters):

OP’s posts: |
RedElephants Sat 18-Feb-17 11:29:32
sorry no good at linking stuff, but they maybe able to help with the sissors etc

notgivingin789 Sun 19-Feb-17 15:13:50

Maybe do a lot more fine motor activities that encourage the use of using a pincer grip ? e.g. Writing on shaving foam, threading beads, ROCK crayons ( very small and has some sort of a grip so that you HAVE to use your pincer fingers to draw with it) Putty activities (twisting the putty--again encourage the pincer grip) pegs, putting coins in a diagonal slit (BOX).

dontknowwhat2callmyself Sun 19-Feb-17 16:01:14

CD uses the Stabilo Easy pen and pencil as mentioned upthread. Occupational Therapist recommended it. I think it has made a difference for DD.

dontknowwhat2callmyself Sun 19-Feb-17 16:01:50


ChristmasSeacow Sun 19-Feb-17 18:31:28

Thanks fir the further suggestions. I bought some threading beads for that reason but he won't thread them, just lines them up! I have been doing a few other fine motor activities with him did a while though, and I think they are helping gradually.

I bought a stabilo pencil, will give it a try in the next couple of days. I hadn't heard of those crayons not, I will look into those thanks!

OP’s posts: |
Sausagepickle123 Sun 19-Feb-17 19:02:46

We were recommended to do lots of "pre writing" activities (e.g. Drawing shapes in foam etc) and work to strengthen upper body (e.g. Climbing bear walls). Those stabilo pencils are great.
One top tip was to give child the end of a piece of chalk to draw/write/scribble with as they have to hold that with a tripod grip.
Good luck!

drspouse Sun 19-Feb-17 19:21:46

I agree re crayon rocks - you can't hold them any other way.

frazzledbutcalm Mon 20-Feb-17 09:19:38

OP ... I think ds scissors are long Loop spring loaded scissors. He tried various ones with OT ... it's not something I would just buy as what suits one doesn't suit another. Have you been referred to OT?

ChristmasSeacow Mon 20-Feb-17 15:45:57

We have been referred to OT but have been waiting about 8 months so far.

Very good idea about the short piece of chalk or crayon, thanks.

OP’s posts: |
ChristmasSeacow Mon 20-Feb-17 16:14:40

I just ordered some Crayon Rocks - they look like they will be really good if I can get DS to engage with them!

Thanks for the scissor info Frazzled. I think I will wait to see what the OT suggests before trying lots of things but will keep the info up my sleeve just in case we need to loom at options for ourselves!

OP’s posts: |
notgivingin789 Wed 22-Feb-17 23:51:52

Please order putty too ! It is way better than playdoh but it comes in different textures (hard, soft, very hard..etc).

drspouse Thu 23-Feb-17 10:03:38

Any suggestions on types/sources of putty? I can see DS loving that.

Knickersinatwist36 Thu 23-Feb-17 11:42:15

We got these:

And OT gave us a sheet of exercises (although DD2 does tend just to do lots of moulding and squeezing which PT said was fine too).

Knickersinatwist36 Thu 23-Feb-17 11:42:32


ChristmasSeacow Thu 23-Feb-17 11:47:23

I will get some putty - been thinking about it got a while but haven't been confident I can get DS to play with it!

Reporting back on crayon rocks - he is sat writing out numbers with them now. The end result is much clearer than with a pen so j think they are a success!

Interestingly though, he still swaps them between his left and right hands as he writes.

OP’s posts: |
GreyStars Thu 23-Feb-17 12:12:44

I have EDS, and I still do swap hands all the time as it becomes uncomfortable. When you say mobility issues I'm guessing it might be EDS? So that might be why he is swapping, nothing would come between me and my pens when I was small - so I'd swap hands

I do always write with my right hand now, my left looks like doctor writing but everything else I swap between hands I don't even notice I'm doing it.

When I was little, i was told off for not holding a pen in a traditional way, and forced to do so (very early 80's) it is so uncomfortable for me to hold a pen in that way for and if I continue very painful causing shooting pains up my arm. So I use more of a grip, finger out very painful. Finger tucked under neat writting and less pain. I also can't hold knives and forks "properly" opposite hands to most and hold a knife differently as the similar motion to holding a pen will cause pain.

Larger grip pens are easier for me too, less stress on my ligaments in my hands.

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