The Relationship Between Somatosensory Processing and Handwriting Proficiency

Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy

Department or Program

Occupational Therapy

Department or Program Chair

Ruth Ramsey, EdD, OTR/L

First Reader

Melisa Kaye, MS, OTR/L

Second Reader

Joann Figone, MS, OTR/L


Handwriting proficiency is reliant on the skill and coordination of the sensory, motor, cognitive, and perceptual systems. One aspect of sensory processing for penmanship is somatosensation. The contribution of somatosensory processing to handwriting proficiency has not been adequately researched. Therefore, this study evaluated the contribution of somatosensory processing to handwriting proficiency. Seventy-four typically developing second grade children were assessed on their handwriting proficiency and their somatosensory processing. Measurement instruments included the Minnesota Handwriting Assessment (MHA), The Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual Motor Integration-Motor Coordination Subtest, Sixth Edition (VMI-MC), and Quick Neurological Screening Test, 3rd Edition (QNST-3). Results showed a small, but statistically significant correlation between proprioceptive and kinesthetic ability with handwriting skill in the areas of size, alignment, and form. Further research is indicated to more closely assess the particular contributions of somatosensation to handwriting sub skills. Similarly, results indicate further need to assess how occupational therapy practitioners might use somatosensory interventions to assist children who are struggling with handwriting development.

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