Why is grasping important?
Children learn to play through touch or tactile exploration. This results in them reaching for and grasping objects. These grasping patterns, in turn, promote independence with play and school-aged tasks, specifically handwriting. Children typically progress through grasp development in a predictable pattern. All patterns can vary in timing, and it does not always follow the exact progression or develop at exactly the following ages, which is okay. Mastery of the following grasp patterns assists with the development and use of a mature grasp on writing utensils. If your child does not demonstrate an interest in grasping or playing or has difficulty demonstrating and mastering a mature grasp on items, it may be beneficial to contact an occupational therapist.
There are 3 main categories of grasp development when using writing utensils. These 3 categories include: Primitive, Transitional, and Mature.
Tips & Tricks to help with grasp & hand strength:
- Small toys or food in ice cube tray – pincer grasp
- Coloring with broken crayons/golf pencils – tripod grasp
- Small object held in palm while holding writing utensil – tripod grasp
- Present child with food or toys while using a pincer grasp, to promote the use of a pincer grasp to retrieve item – pincer grasp
- Writing/coloring on a vertical surface (wall) to promote fluid movements or wrist and digits with handwriting and coloring – tripod grasp
- Using pointer finger to pop bubbles, push buttons, or point to items – pincer grasp
- Tweezers, tongs, clothespins to pick up small objects – pincer and tripod grasp
- Play-doh/putty with objects hidden in it – hand strength
- In hand manipulation – tripod grasp:
- Holding small items (pennies, small erasers, etc.) in the palm, have child work object out to pad of thumb and index finger to put into a container.
- Have the child pick up small objects one at a time, using thumb and index finger, and hold in palm while picking up other objects.
- Stickers on a pencil for placement of fingers – tripod grasp
- Pulling stickers off of the sticker sheet and putting on paper – pincer grasp
Ashton Bowerman, OTR/L & Melanie Lucius, OTR/L