How does your child hold a pencil?

This is kinda random but I was reminded today that we still have a great deal of work left to do. 

We have been working with Gavin for years on his pencil grip. 

You can see in the pictures below how awful it is.  I use the word awful because he’s doing physical damage to his first finger and may end up requiring surgery at some point. 

You can see, especially his middle finger,  at the top joint, is hyperextended.  It looks so painful.  I’m sure a potion of that his aided by his loose joints but still.
We first noticed this years ago because he was literally snapping crayons and pencils due to pressure exerted by his fingers.  When he was evaluated,  they said that he was going to do permanent damage if this wasn’t corrected.

I’m not sure what that damage would be but I imagine it would have something to do with his joints. 

The other concern is how hard he presses as well.  Many times he will color right through the page, if the crayon or pencil actually survives that long.

Truthfully, this pencil grip problem has been lost in the shuffle of everything else he has going on. In the grand skeem of things, it hasn’t been as great as priority as his other health problems.  However, it’s clear to me that it’s obviously still something we need to help him with.

Do any of your kids have problems with the way they hold a pencil,  pen or crayon?



My hand hurts every time I see him writing.  🙁

This was posted via WordPress for Android, courtesy of Samsung’s Galaxy S III. Please forgive any typos. I do know how to spell but auto-correct hate me.

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Rob Gorski

Full time, work from home single Dad to my 3 amazing boys. Oh...and creator fo this blog. :-)
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Hey Rob,
Wondering if you ever figured out any more ideas on this for Gavin? (I haven’t read your more recent posts yet). I’m trying to put together some ideas for myself while I wait to see OT. I was recently diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Hypermobility Type (aka Type 3) as someone suggested Marfans, EDS runs somewhat in that same family of disorders. Lots of people with EDS also fall on the Autism spectrum as well. Of course there are many hypermobile people who don’t have a connective tissue disorder too.
For me I’m finding a combination of thicker writing implements, fountain pens, and vertical writing styles to help. Both Lamy and Pelikan make pens and pencils with built in grips which are nice to both have the guide and there’s a flare at the bottom that I use to rest the tip of my finger so it won’t hyperextend. Some people like Handwriting Without Tears vertical style but I found some of that still too painful so I use French cursive and print. For pencil I like the mechanical pencil with thinner lead so that I can push it out a lot. Basically, if I push too hard it breaks…super frustrating but it somewhat helps to remind me not to push so hard or else I’ll be frustrated. I’ve broken so many pens though from using too much pressure.

Sometimes I use a grip with the pencil between index and middle fingers and either both fingers to the sides or both on the barrel.
The only thing is I have no clue what to do about other activities like drawing or like in your picture, coloring. I love art but it’s super frustrating and painful!
Hope you don’t mind, I pinned your picture to my EDS Pinterest board.


@AspieWriter I used to hold pencils so hard I got a lot of pain from it, so I had to make a new way for me to hold it.. @reality_autism


@ThAOSteen @reality_autism I still am funny about what I write with, I actually hold and "try-out" a few differnet pens before I sit down


My eldest son with aspergers also has an awkward pencil grip, and uses so much pressure that his hand aches.  My middle son with some asperger traits and lots of other diagnosis' and learning disabilities has the same grip and problem.  I just wanted to say that our "disillusioned and exhausted family of 5" has also decided that there are bigger problems than pencil grip going on in our world.  My boys are similar in age to Gavin, and we have been told by occupational therapists and psychologists that it is too late and they should just learn to type and do all of their school work on a laptop.  They also have the teachers eliminate copying down tasks.  In reality they use laptops for very little, and just get by doing as little writing as possible (they hate the physical act of writing anyway).
I would never wish anyone to go through parenting like us: fighting for correct diagnosis's, fighting for appropriate help from the schools, all while battling unpredictable yet almost daily crisis and suffering.  However, I am so happy to have stumbled on your blog because for the first time I see a family that is experiencing the same mental and physical assault everyday.  I too am ill, and you and my husband have a lot in common.


Hey Rob,There have actually been studies recently into pencil grip which raised questions about the traditional way to hold a pencil. Basically it doesn't matter how a kid holds a pencil unless it's causing pain or slowing them down significantly. After the age of 8 it's virtually impossible to change anyway.To reduce the pressure Gavin puts through the pencil you can do lots of warm up activities to increase his sensory registration before he starts, basically turn them on and wake up the sensory receptors before he even picks up a pencil. He would probably also benefit from writing on a slopes surface – about 45 degrees, an empty ring binder folder works well. Also get him practicing writing on soft surfaces, put a mousepad under the paper or something similar…I'll flick you an email with some more strategies when I'm back at work this week 🙂


I can see several things going on in his grip.  There are adapters that can assist and make it less stressful for him to hold a pen or pencil and write.  Does he grind his teeth or clench his jaw as he writes?  He is using an excessively high pressure grip.  Can he dislocate joints easily?  He may have something like Marfam's condition or other collagen disorder.  Does he break bones easily?  Has he had a bone density scan?  {We have the collagen issues and can dislocate lots of joints.  All the children have osteoporosis and have had treatments for years to make their bones stronger.}  Vitamin D3 and D2 help with bone density, calcium taken with Vit D ensures absorption.  
There is an orthopedic grip at:
There are ones that the finger tips grip:
Also one that the finger tips fit into:
I would also check with his OT for a  fine motor skills assessment–she/he may have a recommendation for a different type of grip or a specially made one.  
Hope this helps!


@Batty thank you very much. 🙂


I would guess that finger braces would be the best way to help his grip.
My fingers are hypermobile too, though not as badly as Gavin's. I think I can see something of what is going on with his grip. The traditional grip on my fingers bends my middle finger too far toward my pinkie, and presumably does for him too. Hypermobility, after all, isn't just about bending joints backward… they also rotate around too much, and bend sideways. Come to think of it, bending sideways is substantially more uncomfortable than bending backward. Bending the joints backward was never painful, and provided a sense of stability. Sideways makes my joints feel weird, then painful.
The traditional grip was therefore both uncomfortable and not steady.  My modification distributed the pressure across all three outside fingers. Of course, Gavin is much more hypermobile, so my guess is that he'll need some kind of external brace to distribute the pressure without tweaking the joints. And don't ignore the knuckle joints. They bend too when holding a pencil.
Maybe you can start by  putting part of a popsicle stick between his middle and fourth fingers, and between his fourth and fifth fingers? Or something along those lines, just to see if the idea works? Maybe a glove where you stiffen the outside three finger slots?


That's a great idea. Thank you 🙂


it is a little "off" but i have seen worse. i was also told by a teacher, that if a pincher grip is not corrected by age 6 or so, it is very very very difficult to correct. a habit is formed, and much more deeply imprinted than other habits.


@DeeBrake with Gavin, it's not so much the grip itself as the it is the force behind it.


 @lostandtired  @DeeBrake  yes. the awkwardness of the grip is resulting in more pressure. the pencil isnt RESTING as much as it is being held in place. and with the angle of that finger, held firmly. it took us a long time to correct my sons, but early intervention and repetitively adjusting his hand each time he needed. it was a long process but consistent as well. with all of the issues Gavin is facing, it is understandable that some have taken a back seat to others. correct pencil posturing surely wasnt a highest priority.  in the meantime have you tried those different shaped pencils? there are some meant for young hands to train them to hold correctly (triangular i think) we were told to start with shorter pencils as well. a short pencil is more difficult to grab incorrectly, in our case it was with a whole fist. good luck


@DeeBrake we've tried many things. The most successful was one of those squishy pencil grip things. 🙂