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Exploring Visual/Motor Processing (Writing) Struggles: Checklist and Resources

Visual processing learning challenges are among the most common. If your child exhibits the symptoms in our checklist, these resources could be a helpful aid.

Some of the most common learning challenges occur in the skill set that enables children to write. These skills are spatial and visual/motor (also called grapho-motor).

Visual-motor processing challenges can prevent the process of writing from becoming automatic, which results in a child having to expend a lot of energy when they are writing. And because writing is involved in so many academic activities, that child’s learning is then affected across many subjects.

Often, parents and other adults will notice that a student with visual/motor processing struggles appears lazy, uncooperative, or unmotivated—which may just be outwards signs of deep inner frustration.

If your child exhibits a number of the symptoms in the checklist below, it may indicate this type of struggle. In that case, getting a more formal evaluation and learning how to incorporate specific resources in your child’s homeschool could make a world of difference in your child’s ability to learn and their confidence that they can learn!

Do any of these sound like my child?

  • Reverses written letters both laterally and vertically, six months after being taught on a daily basis how to write them correctly
  • Reverses written numbers
  • Uses poor spacing in writing
  • Has difficulty copying from a book or board
  • Resists learning or writing cursive
  • Displays awkward writing posture, with eye and hand very close together
  • Does not use their nondominant hand to stabilize the paper when writing, despite being instructed to do so
  • Fails to complete written assignments, but performs well on tests
  • Poorly spaces their writing on math papers
  • Tells great stories orally, but writes very little
  • Leaves letters out of words in written spelling tests, but can orally spell the words correctly
  • Wants to do all math in their head no matter how long a problem is

If you think your child might have a visual/motor processing challenge, check out the following resources suggested by HSLDA’s educational consultants! We also encourage you to move on to the next checklist in this series to see if your child might have a challenge in the area of auditory processing.

Resources to help your child with visual/motor processing struggles

  • Get an evaluation and services from an occupational therapist.
  • You can get a deeper understanding of your child’s visual/motor processing (writing) challenges and how to help them by reading articles for parents like this one.
  • Reduce your child’s writing load until visual/motor processing improves, using methods like:
    • Allowing oral narration, retelling, oral presentations
    • Eliminating copying tasks
    • Doing timed math tests orally
  • Consider trying the Writing Eight Exercise, a simple, effective, daily exercise to help resolve your child’s writing struggles. It improves functioning of a child’s kinesthetic midline, eliminating both lateral and vertical reversals, and converts the writing process to their brain’s automatic hemisphere. You can read about how to use the Writing Eight Exercise in Dianne Craft’s Brain Integration Therapy Manual or watch the demonstration in her Smart Kids Who Hate to Write.
  • After your child has a strong midline (see previous item), here are three writing program you could choose from to help your child learn basic writing skills from pencil holding all the way through cursive writing: Handwriting without Tears, Rhythm of Handwriting, or LinguiSystems’ Loops and Other Groups.
  • Another option: Your child could learn keyboarding with a program or app like Type To Learn (recommended by dyslexia specialist Susan Barton) so they can type school assignments rather than handwrite them.

Would you like specific guidance in helping your child with a learning struggle? The Educational Consultants are here for you! HSLDA members can call or email us, and we will respond personally. (Not a member? You can join today!)