How to Help Your ADHD Child Improve Her Handwriting Skills

Illegible handwriting or dysgraphia is very common in pupils with ADHD. The ability to write requires many complex developmental systems to be in place and it is important to consider whether there may be a developmental coordination disorder (DCD) alongside the ADHD. It may be helpful for the child to see an occupational therapist. Sometimes, however, the difficulty in writing things down is due to oppositional behaviour or boredom (‘Why should I write it down if I can say it straight away?’) and sometimes due to short-term memory issues or problems with written expression. Working on the computer is often helpful in this situation. However, there are a few things you can do to make handwriting easier.

ADHD Child Handwriting Skills


  • Make sure that the child has a chair and table/desk that are the appropriate size for him and that he faces the teacher and the whiteboard. His feet should be on the floor; ankles, knees, hips and elbows should be as close to right angles as possible.
  • A slightly sloped writing surface encourages extension at the wrists and improves dexterity. This can be accomplished by attaching the child’s exercise book to a closed two- or three-inch ring binder with the raised edge away from the child. A piece of non-slip rubber mat (such as Dycem) on the bottom prevents the file from moving about on the desk, and another under the exercise book or paper will stop that from moving – a bulldog clip attached to the binder can serve the same purpose.


  • This needs to be positioned correctly so that the child can see what he is writing. When the child sits with both elbows on the desk with hands together so that they form a right angle, a right-handed child should align the top of the paper with the left arm in this position and the left-handed child should align it with the right arm. A piece of masking tape on the desk to remind child and teacher of the paper position can be useful. This is extremely important for left-handed pupils who frequently develop a ‘hooked hand’ when writing on poorly positioned paper.

ADHD Child Handwriting Skills

  • The paper needs to be of good enough quality that writing is a pleasing experience, whatever implement is used.
  • Use the line width to match the pupil’s handwriting size – this may mean using the exercise books used for younger pupils.

Filed Under: Education & Training


About the Author: Roberta Southworth is a psychiatrist by profession. She likes to help out people by writing informative tips on how people can to solve their family and relationship issues. She is currently staying in Ireland. She has 5 years of couple counseling experience.

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