Let’s face it- tablets, iPads, smart phones… they are pretty much everywhere these days, even in the therapy world. While these gadgets are obviously the new normal, it is very important to remember the importance of good ol’ fashioned fine motor skill development. (A parent once told me that their school therapist said there was no reason to teach tasks with a pencil and paper, since kids would eventually only be using electronic devices. Whoa, now…)
Some tablet games are great for promoting pinch, finger isolation, and even visual motor integration. Of course, you can’t forget that the motivation for these activities is through the roof! However, I’ve found that one of the greatest things I can incorporate with the iPad is pencil grasp training using a stylus. Basically the ultimate in sneakiness.
Say a child refuses to do a writing task, but can’t wait to play a game on the iPad. Well, hand over a stylus, and magically they are practicing their pencil grasp. Plus, they don’t seem to mind corrections or adjustments as much when it comes to playing an app.
So when I was approached by The Pencil Grip to review their Ergonomic Stylus, I was more than happy to give it a go. (Full disclosure, they sent me the product to review for free, but this is in no way a sponsored review. Then I couldn’t be as brutally honest as I love…)
I thought I would put this product up against my regular stylus that I typically use with children in therapy. You can buy 3 of these generic ones for like $1.50 online. The Ergonomic Stylus retails for $12.99 on Amazon.
The first obvious difference is the thickness/weight of the Ergonomic Stylus. It has much more of a presence in your hand as you use it. Also seems much more official. This helped some children with proprioceptive and/or tactile issues have greater control of the pencil. Now, this isn’t a ton of weight, but I also liked it for a child that has a very mild intention tremor. He seemed to be more successful with this stylus in terms of control.
Many of my clients with autism preferred to grasp this stylus with a fisted grasp, and would maintain the proper position on the grip for only a few moments. I’m not sure if this had to do with the increased thickness of the stylus, or the grip itself. Just to be sure, I would switch between each stylus during a task, and sure enough, there was much more fisted grasping with the thicker stylus.
Now, if you are really looking for the adaptive positioning benefits of using The Pencil Grip, you can just slide that puppy on a regular stylus without a problem. When I did this, children focused a bit more on their grasp.
Another plus of the smaller stylus was that I could interchange different grips for different issues. One of my favorites being the CLAW grip, the one that most little fingers don’t slip out of quite as easily.
Overall, the Ergonomic Stylus might be a good choice for some of the older children that use a similar grip on their pencil successfully. Watch out for compensation while using the product, and as always, I would make sure to follow up with additional exercises and fine motor strengthening. Also, it might be a good choice for adults that do a lot of work on their tablets and need joint/pressure relief.