By the time students are in high school it is often assumed that handwriting is an established ability that doesn’t need any attention, but this is often not the case. Handwriting is complex with perceptual, cognitive, and motor components and even high school aged students may still struggle with this skill.
High school students that are having difficulty with handwriting are often concerned that it may impact their performance in school assessments and examinations. Some students have difficulty with handwriting speed, some with legibility, and sometimes students have issues with both. Slow writing often affects the student’s ability to keep up in the classroom or finish assessments in the given time frame. Poor handwriting legibility impacts the ability of the teacher or examiner to read and understand what the student has written, and as a result they may incorrectly assess their school work.
Schools often recommend that students see a hand therapist for a “DASH Assessment.” DASH stands for “Detailed Assessment of Speed of Handwriting.” DASH consists of four handwriting tasks and one task which is a measure of perceptual motor competence. The four different handwriting tasks in the DASH have systematically varying demands, to help determine the influence of different handwriting components on handwriting speed. It takes about 45 minutes for the student to complete the assessment.
After the student has left the clinic, I complete the complex DASH scoring progress. The score then determines how the student has performed based on benchmarks for their age group. I will then write a report which includes the student’s results, DASH scores and my recommendations based on these findings.
If you or your school have any concerns regarding your student’s handwriting, it might be worth considering the DASH to formally assess their handwriting performance. To read more about handwriting skills, please see my other blog called The Lost Art of Handwriting.