Research Article  |   September 2013
Functional Handwriting Performance in School-Age Children With Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
Author Affiliations
  • Cherie J. Duval-White, MS, OTR/L, is Staff Occupational Therapist, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle. At the time of the study, she was Graduate Student, Master of Science Program, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle
  • Tracy Jirikowic, PhD, OTR/L, is Assistant Professor, Division of Occupational Therapy, Box 356490, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195; tracyj@uw.edu
  • Dianne Rios, ScD, OTR/L, is Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle
  • Jean Deitz, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, is Professor Emeritus, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle
  • Heather Carmichael Olson, PhD, is Senior Lecturer, Division of Child Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Seattle Children’s Research Institute and University of Washington, Seattle
Article Information
Pediatric Evaluation and Intervention / School-Based Practice / Children and Youth
Research Article   |   September 2013
Functional Handwriting Performance in School-Age Children With Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, September/October 2013, Vol. 67, 534-542. doi:10.5014/ajot.2013.008243
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, September/October 2013, Vol. 67, 534-542. doi:10.5014/ajot.2013.008243
Abstract

Handwriting is a critical skill for school success. Children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) often present with fine motor and visual–motor impairments that can affect handwriting performance, yet handwriting skills have not been systematically investigated in this clinical group. This study aimed to comprehensively describe handwriting skills in 20 school-age children with FASD. Children were tested with the Process Assessment of the Learner, 2nd Edition (PAL–II), and the Visuomotor Precision subtest of NEPSY, a developmental neuropsychological assessment. Participants performed below average on PAL–II measures of handwriting legibility and speed and on NEPSY visual–motor precision tasks. In contrast, PAL–II measures of sensorimotor skills were broadly within the average range. Results provide evidence of functional handwriting challenges for children with FASD and suggest diminished visual–motor skills and increased difficulty as task complexity increases. Future research is needed to further describe the prevalence and nature of handwriting challenges in this population.