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What is so ‘effortful’ about handwriting? Webb, A. Henderson, S.E. Stuart, K.M. Institute of Education London University. Background.
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Institute of Education
Three main features characterised the handwritten stories of the children with DCD:
The selection of verbally able, literate children reduced the possibility that low general ability or impairments of language or literacy could account for the compositional weakness.
20 poorly coordinated boys (mean age 11.2 years; range 9.10-14.2) were selected from mainstream schools on the basis that they were considered to be bright, verbally fluent and read well, but had ‘poor’ handwriting.
15 met the inclusion criteria and agreed to participate.
15 controls matched for age, ability and literacy were chosen on the basis of good motor coordination and no handwriting problems.
All were tested on the following standardised measures:
Certain specific measures were chosen to indicate handwriting demand based on the literature:
An independent t test showed there was a significant difference between groups in copying time (t = 3.902, p = .001): the DCD children took more time than controls.
There was a significant main effect of group (F (1,24) = 5.414, p = .029) but no main effect of task and no group x task interaction: The DCD children wrote with more pen pressure than the controls in both tasks. For pen pressure variability there was also a significant main effect of group (F (1,24) = 16.637, p = .000): the DCD children showed greater variability than the controls did.
There was a significant main effect of task (F (1,24) = 27.523, p = .008) and a significant group x task interaction (F (1,24) = 4.245, p = .050: variability increased for the DCD group as they wrote more.
There was a significant main effect of group (F (1,24) = 6.239, p = .020) and of task (F (1,24) = 8.579, p = .000) and a significant group x task interaction (F (1,24) = 7.010, p = .014): the pen pressure exerted by the DCD group increased as they wrote for longer but it decreased for the controls.
Question: If the DCD group could write as fast on the page as the controls why did they produce less text?
- produced less text in all tasks,
- exerted greater pressure overall,
- showed greater variability,
- strokes were less efficient when FW than when copying.
2. There is visual evidence that their ‘in air’ movement is less efficient (excess motor activity).