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Writing “too light” or “too hard”

Proprioception is one of the senses in our sensory processing system, which is control of our body awareness. Proprioception tells us where our body parts are in space, how they move, and how we control our strength and movement.

The improper pencil pressures (too light or too hard) are related to the body awareness process.

“To light” pressure

“Proper” pressure

“Too hard” pressure

Handwriting is a common struggle for kids with ASD, ADHD, or dyslexia. They often have difficulty in fine motor skills, pencil grip, finger control and sensory processing.

Why is proper handwriting pressure important?

Handwriting pressure may affect how readable the writing is to other people (legibility).

Why does my child write with “light” pressure? Here are some possible reasons:

  1. Weak hand and poor grip strength

  2. Poor or improper pencil grip

  3. Sensory processing – poor body awareness

You may also see your child:

  1. Shows no interest or gets bored with coloring, drawing or handwriting activities

  2. Gets tired easily, hand shaking a little

Activities to help increase handwriting pressure:

  1. Warm up activities: squeezing a stress ball or play dough

  2. Draw or color with broken crayons to facilitate pencil grip and control

  3. Upper body weight bearing – wall push up, chair push up, monkey hanging, wheelbarrow walk

  4. Craft activity – tear the paper and make art

  5. Bakery game – make dough, roll, pull, push

  6. Finger strengthening and control activities – cloth spins, pick up beans, play with small toys 

  7. Practice handwriting on an uneven surface and not poke the paper, such as placing a piece of soft sheet under the paper

Squeeze a squeeze ball or stress ball

Drawing or coloring with broken crayons (small pieces)

Wheelbarrow walk

Wall push up

Clothspin game with pom pom

Monkey game: hanging on bars

Why does my child write with “hard” pressure? Here are some possible reasons:

  1. Poor finger control

  2. Sensory processing – poor body awareness

You may also see your child:

  1. Tends to write with bigger sizes or has difficulty writing in smaller size

Activities to help increase handwriting pressure:

  1. Warm up with sensory activities with heavy work – house chores, vacuum, laundry, carry heavy items (grocery items)

  2. Ghost writing – ask your child to write lightly so that when you erase it, there are no marks left.

  3. Write with mechanical pencil – it breaks easier. This makes kids work on controlling the pressure

  4. Finger control activities

  5. Handwriting activities – ask to write in smaller sizes


House chores activities: Vacuum, help carrying grocery bags

Ghost writing game

Mechanical pencil


“Mr. Wilson” game: pick up small beans or coins and feed Wilson. Work on finger control, coordination and strength.

I am proud to be an occupational therapist. Ella Wu, OTD, OTR/L Doctor of Occupational Therapy
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