Children who have challenges with handwriting are often encouraged to “practice, practice, practice,” but sometimes practice doesn’t result in improved legibility. In some instances, occupational therapists will recommend a weighted pen or pencil to improve handwriting, but the evidence supporting the effectiveness of weighted utensils is scarce. That’s why I was encouraged when I recently read a 2017 research article in the Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, & Early Intervention on the use of weighted pencils.
The article reviewed a series of three case scenarios of children whose handwriting improved after initiating the use of weighted pencils. However, it is important to note that the reported improved legibility was anecdotal, with no formal assessments or statistical analyses included in the study.
The article shares some information that therapists might find useful. For example, when recommending a weighted utensil, the therapist should be sure that the child’s joint integrity is intact, and that the child will be safe and responsible with the utensil. The authors of the article also stressed that each child should provide input regarding the amount of weight that is added to the pencil so that it is comfortable for them and also improves legibility. It is important to note that the evidence provided in the article is very preliminary, and additional studies are needed.
Below is an image of a DIY weighted pencil.
Brown, M. J. (2017). Use of weighted pencils to improve handwriting legibility. Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, & Early Intervention, 10(1), 52-68.