Teaching Writing to Autistic Kids


I read somewhere recently that some autistic kids communicate better in writing than verbally, and have found this to be true for many of my autistic students (witness K who has difficulty speaking in complete sentences but today wrote one of the best Fathers Day cards produced in my RSP class.) It’s encouraging to see that he and others have a means of expressing themselves. My own son holds the pencil with an overhand grip but he is still very young. When I asked his OT if I should work to correct his grip ¬†she preferred that we give him exercises similar to the ones listed below. I plan to use these when I resume teaching this fall. If anyone out there has tips on teaching writing to autistic students please let me know…

Fine Motor Skills Exercises and Therapy Ideas for Autism

A child with autism will benefit greatly by engaging in fine motor skills exercises designed to strengthen hand and finger muscles. Build these types of activities into the school day. Do the following regularly, and improvements in fine motor skills will be attained:

  • Clay modeling
  • Finger-painting
  • Squeezing small balls or hand exercisers
  • Lacing beads
  • Weaving and tying activities
  • Sorting small items into slots
  • Winding up toys
  • Piano play
  • Finger puppet play
  • Pouring activities (water, sand, etc.)

Helpful Special Needs Writing Aids

There are many aids available to help children learn how to write consistently. One very important tool to have in the classroom is a slanted writing desk or other surface. This will help the autistic child who has difficulty maintaining a handwriting position for long periods of time.

Kids with autism may also struggle with pencil holding and pressure, grasping and pressing down too tightly and causing the writing utensil to break frequently, or gripping the pencil too loosely so that it wobbles. In either case, the student may benefit from weighted pencils, pencil grips, pencils with attached supportive elastic wristbands, and special no slip paper.

Adjust Classroom Handwriting Requirements for Autistic Students

If a classroom writing assignment is long, a teacher may want to break it up into smaller sessions for the child with autism. Even better, have the child use a computer to type out larger writing projects instead of requiring him to write several pages.

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