LESLIE CRISS: Handwriting handicap could have been helped by therapy

By Leslie Criss/NEMS Daily Journal

“You must have control of the authorship of your own destiny. The pen that writes your life story must be held in your own hand.”
– Irene C. Kassorla

“Everyone has one thing he can do better than anyone else – and usually it’s reading his own handwriting.”
– G. Norman Collie

I was reading a piece in The New York Times earlier this week about parents who send their kids to occupational therapists to help them become successful students.
It’s true.
An 8-year-old boy was working with an OT because his teacher had a difficult time reading the boy’s handwriting.
“Twenty-five years ago, pediatric occupational therapists primarily served children with severe disabilities like spina bifida, autism or cerebral palsy,” wrote Peg Tyre in the article. “Nowadays, these therapists are just as focused on helping children without obvious disabilities to hold a pencil.”
Parents of plenty able-bodied kids are seeking the help of pediatric occupational therapists “to help their children to be the best that they can be.”
I think how different my life might have been had my parents sought help for me all those years ago.
As my year at Merry Morning Kindergarten neared an end, Mrs. Doty had a chat with my parents. She was concerned that I could not, to her satisfaction, keep my coloring within the lines or cut straight when wielding scissors. I still had a few problems tying my shoes. And my penmanship left much to be desired, according to my teacher.
My parents, thank goodness, had faith in my abilities and allowed me to advance to first grade rather than spend yet another year with Mrs. Doty.
The summer before first grade, I practiced and learned to tie my shoes.
If I chose to color inside the lines, I could, but I’ve never been one to be confined inside a box. I still can’t cut completely straight with scissors, but most times it really doesn’t matter.
And my penmanship has always been poor.
Old report cards of mine from elementary school show As in most subjects. But not penmanship. I always had Bs and maybe even a C one six-week period.
Early in my freshman year in college, when I was still dreadfully homesick, I wrote and mailed my parents a long letter. Two weeks later I received a written response from my mother. She caught me up on some of the news from home and ended by imploring me to “call collect” rather than send another long letter. Apparently, it had taken a long time for my folks to decipher my hieroglyphics.
I told my mother once that poor penmanship is a sign of extremely high intelligence. Probably no truth in that, but it sounded good.
Now I can tell my parents it’s their fault, this handwriting handicap of mine.
They should have sent me for occupational therapy when I was in kindergarten.

Contact Leslie Criss at (662) 678-1584 or leslie.criss@djournal.com.

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