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Written by: Regina De Canto, M.S, CCC-SLP and Tiffany Thomsen, MS, OTR/L

Writing: Whose job is it anyway?
Occupational therapist, Tiffany Thomsen (left) and Speech therapist, Regina De Canto (right)
provide a quick guide to how occupational and speech therapy work on writing in different ways.

Our kids learn the prerequisites needed to write as early as when they start picking up a crayon and coloring! So when it comes to writing difficulties, do you consult an occupational therapist? Or do you consult a speech therapist? Since writing is a multisensory approach to expressing ourselves, writing is also one of the many areas that speech and occupational therapy overlap!

Child written sample of letter
Speech therapy address language within writing

Hey, Regina! How does speech therapy address writing?

Speech therapy deals with the expression of written language. Just like in spoken language, we look at the phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of written language. When your child is writing, are they sounding out the word to spell? Are they writing an “s” at the end of plurals? Can they create a sentence or two to describe a picture? Basically, we are looking at how a child puts their thoughts into words on paper.

Writing letters
Occupational therapy
address fine motor
and visual skills

Hey, Tiffany! How does occupational therapy address writing?

Occupational therapy addresses the mechanical actions it takes to write. We look at coordinating the eyes, arms, hands, pencil grip, letter formation, strength, and body posture when a child is writing. When your child is writing, is their starting point at the top of the space? Are they holding a pencil correctly to write? Are their letters varying in size all over the page? We are looking at how a child’s handwriting is affected by their fine motor, visual perceptual, and visual motor skills.

Regina and Tiffany, my child is in preschool, should he/she be writing?

Children writing in the sand
Preschoolers should work on prerequisite skills to writing

Ah, the fun stage of preschool! We are in agreement that, developmentally speaking, they may not be ready to write yet! You will find that occupational and speech therapy won’t necessarily address writing until school-age. However, we are going to work on some fundamental, foundational skills they will need to prepare them for writing!

Speech Therapy…

  • Identifying and naming numbers
  • Identifying and naming letters
  • Corresponding sounds to letters
  • Recognizing letters or words apart from other symbols

Occupational Therapy…

  • Hand strength
  • Posture
  • Evolution of grasps
  • Drawing shapes or people
Child writing
Both therapies address writing for school-age children

Alright, ladies, how does speech or occupational therapy help my kindergartner?

By kindergarten, both speech and occupational therapy can help with writing. We both target copying words, writing uppercase letters, writing on a single baseline with good spacing, and writing their name. Here is how we are different…

Speech Therapy…

  • Following academic directions like “Copy this word!”
  • Writing all letters of the alphabet
  • Attempting to spell basic words like “cat” or “blue”

Occupational Therapy…

  • Understanding how to write within a given space
  • Starting points on a page
  • Letter formation and sizing

I want to learn more about how occupational and speech therapy work on writing!

If you would like a deeper understanding on how occupational therapy and speech therapy work on writing or for older children in their different therapeutic approaches, check out these blogs by Regina and Tiffany:

“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

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