The impact of handwriting difficulties on compositional quality in children with developmental coordination disorder

Mellissa M Prunty, Anna L Barnett, Kate Wilmut, Mandy S Plumb
British Journal of Occupational Therapy 2016, 79 (10): 591-597

INTRODUCTION: There is substantial evidence to support the relationship between transcription skills (handwriting and spelling) and compositional quality. For children with developmental coordination disorder, handwriting can be particularly challenging. While recent research has aimed to investigate their handwriting difficulties in more detail, the impact of transcription on their compositional quality has not previously been examined. The aim of this exploratory study was to examine compositional quality in children with developmental coordination disorder and to ascertain whether their transcription skills influence writing quality.

METHOD: Twenty-eight children with developmental coordination disorder participated in the study, with 28 typically developing age and gender matched controls. The children completed the 'free-writing' task from the detailed assessment of speed of handwriting tool, which was evaluated for compositional quality using the Wechsler objective language dimensions.

RESULTS: The children with developmental coordination disorder performed significantly below their typically developing peers on five of the six Wechsler objective language dimensions items. They also had a higher percentage of misspelled words. Regression analyses indicated that the number of words produced per minute and the percentage of misspelled words explained 55% of the variance for compositional quality.

CONCLUSION: The handwriting difficulties so commonly reported in children with developmental coordination disorder have wider repercussions for the quality of written composition.

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