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How Vision Affects Handwriting And School Performance

Children who have difficulty with handwriting, copying shapes, cutting or drawing.

Little Susie and the Occupational Therapist are playing with blocks. The therapist makes a design with 5 blocks and asks Susie to copy it. She is focused, squinting her eyes and turning her head to one side and tries her best.


She keeps re-building her design, struggling to match it to the therapists. Finally, she finishes and although it is close, the blocks do not match up. The therapist praises her trying, and makes a new design for her to copy.

The OT in this story is working with Susie to develop her visual-motor skills which how our eyes and hands work together in order to perform coordinated, purposeful movements, in response to what we see. Often, this skill is referred to as eye-hand coordination. Visual-motor integration skills are needed to successfully complete many tasks.

Children who have difficulty with this skill may demonstrate problems with handwriting, copying shapes, cutting or drawing. Problems in these areas can cause difficulty with written language skills, reading skills, mathematical skills and overall academic performance.


Visual-Motor Integration is an emerging skill that is mastered over time and with much practice. Children are often discovered to have problems in this area in elementary school. A child may struggle with learning to write, or have trouble using scissors. All children develop differently, at different paces.

During sessions, occupational therapist’s work on addressing visual-motor deficits in a variety of ways. These skills can be enhanced through repetition and practice through multiple strategies.

There are number of ways to help develop this skill at home.  

  • Connect the dot activities

  • Mazes (Practice tracing with finger first and then use marker or crayon)

  • Copying pegboard or Lego Designs

  • Lacing cards or stringing beads

  • Practice tracing using high-lighters

  • Coloring books

This article was written by Sarah Ligon, OTS

Many schools do not provide therapy for a vision or handwriting delay if they do not find it to be academically necessary. Your child may be performing ok compared to their peers but are they performing at their peek ability?

Therapy 4 Kids can supplement what your school is providing to help them reach their full potential.

If you have any questions please call us at 501.514.3722 or click on the Request Therapy box on this page to fill out a short request form.

Some Examples of Typical Development:

  • 15-17 months: Able to build a 3 block tower, imitate scribble, place pegs into board


  • 18-23 months: Able to place a small object into a bottle, snip paper, string beads


  • 24-29 months: Able to copy 4-block design accurately, imitate straight line degrees, placing rings on ring stand.


  • 30-35 months: Able to cut paper from side to the opposite side, copy circle within ½” of beginning point, building a 6-block design after demonstration, building a 9 block tower.


  • 36-41 months: Able to copy a cross, cut on a line.


  • 42-47 months: Able to copy a square, cut a circle, and trace a line.