Occupational Therapy Writing Grip page

What is an appropriate writing grip and when should I attempt to change?

Dynamic tripod- pencil is held with the tip of the thumb and index finger and rests against the side of the third finger.

Adapted tripod- pencil is held between the index and third fingers with the tips of the thumb and index finger on the pencil.
Quadrupod grip- pencil is held with the tip of the thumb, index and third fingers and rests on the side of the fourth finger.

Dynamic, adapted and quadrupod grips are all functional grasps. Dynamic and quadrupod grasps are the most commonly used.
An adapted grip is recommended for those with arthritis, low tone, or to reduce hand fatigue.


These are the three most common inefficient grips that I have observed students using in schools.

When do I attempt to change a grip?

Unfortunately as school based OTs, we are sometimes not called in to take a look at handwriting until 2nd grade or even later. By this time the type of grip the student is using has become so ingrained that it becomes almost impossible to change. Before attempting to change a grip ask yourself: is the writing legible, is the type of grip causing pain and/or fatigue. For older students keyboard may be a better option.

EARLY INTERVENTION,as is the case with any type of remediation, early intervention is essential. Changing a grip at Pre-kindergarten to early Kindergarten has the best chance of making a real difference.

Don't throw away those little pencils! Smaller pencils are better for smaller hands. Longer pencils are heavier for the beginning writer. Golf pencils or the Handwriting Without Tears pencils are perfect for little hands.

Break up those crayons! Crayons and chalk broken into about 1 inch pieces promote a tripod grasp and help to strengthen those little intrinsic muscles of the hand.

Coloring is NOT busy work. Young children need coloring activities to strengthen the small muscles of the hand. Coloring also develops good fine motor control needed for handwriting.

The Twist N Write pencil pictured below is a great tool for ensuring proper writing grip. I've had more success with this little invention than with any pencil grip on the market. This writing tool is great for correcting a thumb overlap. Students who have a thumb overlap grip will get by in kindergarten and first grade. Once the writing demand increases at second grade these students will start to complain of hand fatigue and pain. Any grip that has a thumb overlap should be corrected early on at the Prek and kindergarten level. Low tone, decreased strength or arthritis are other conditions why this pencil would be recommended. I have found students to be more acceptable to using this pencil than traditional pencil grips. This pencil is becoming more widely available and can be found at Office Depot and Educate & Celebrate. Refills are available and can be found at amazon.com or therapyshoppe. I'm sure they will soon be available at Office Depot and Educate & Celebrate. Ask for them if you frequent these stores so they will get them in!

PenAgain Twist N Write Refills
PenAgain Twist N Write Refills