Effective occupational therapy intervention for handwriting/fine motor difficulties

Handwriting/fine motor difficulties are well documented as serious hindrances to academic learning for kindergarten and elementary school children. Intervention techniques to remediate these problems have been researched by educators and occupational therapists. Effective occupational therapy interventions have been found to include visual motor tasks, kinesthetic and dexterity training and motor planning/strengthening activities. Occupational therapists, mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, work with these students in the school setting to enhance handwriting/fine motor skills to meet classroom curriculum demands. Humboldt County teachers have reported a high incidence of students with these deficits in their classrooms yet reported a low frequency of referral to occupational therapists for intervention. Funding and a lack of general knowledge about the role of therapists’ in the school setting appear to be barriers to implementation of therapy services for students. These same teachers indicated a strong interest in continuing education on remediation techniques. An educational module designed for staff development for teachers in Humboldt County on handwriting/fine motor intervention strategies appears to be needed. Curriculum for students is rigorous with many academic topics to cover. Imbedding fine motor remediation techniques into another discipline seems advantageous. Food related activities naturally lend themselves to fine motor involvement. Staff training encouraging vegetable awareness and handwriting skill acquisition is an effective way to impact student learning in two specialty areas. Linking fine motor intervention with nutrition education will be a cost effective, compelling, and creative solution to meet teacher and ultimately student needs in Humboldt County.