How speech pathologists and occupational therapists work with writing

Why is writing so tricky for many kids?

Writing is a multilayered process that requires a child to integrate skills from multiple areas to produce a cohesive piece of text. 

Children need to;

  • Understand what type of writing they are trying to produce; e.g. a story, information report, persuasive & know the difference between them
  • Understand & start to predict what parts go in these different types of writing.  E.g. narrative has characters & plot, information has subheadings and detail, persuasive has opinions
  • Organise their thoughts into a sequenced idea 
  • Form ideas into logical sentences that flow well together, across paragraphs to bring their ideas to life
  • Isolate the words within the sentence
  • Sound out, or recall, the sounds that go inside the word they are trying to write whilst simultaneously holding the rest of the sentence in mind
  • Recall & execute the motor plans for the handwriting of the letters in the word
  • Repeat, until the sentence, paragraph & text is finished.


As you can see, there’s a large number of mental processes, involving language and memory that need to happen all at once, alongside motor planning elements, and of course, attention, concentration and motivation.


So how can Speech pathologists help?


Speech Pathologists are generally a great go-to first step to analyse why writing is difficult for children.


Speechies investigate;

  • The child’s abilities to construct sentences that are well organised, complex, and grammatically correct
  • The narrative, and descriptive skills required in producing connected paragraphs
  • The memory, phonics & spelling skills required to spell efficiently and correctly 


Occupational Therapists also help!


OT’s can support children with the motor planning & organisational aspects of writing such as;

  • Sizing, spacing, placement of letters on the lines
  • Ability to correctly and fluidly form letter shapes
  • Ability to stay organised, on task, and complete an activity to the end
  • Ability to regulate emotions throughout the task, to remain on track


Writing is such a critical skill not just for academics, but also for life.  The ability to communicate successfully in written form supports children to express themselves and create social connections, alongside participating academically.


Early assessment and intervention for writing can help children develop the skills required, and support their feelings of success and motivation for writing tasks.

For more information, see this blog on OT tips for pencil grip, or this blog on how SPs help kids with literacy.

Any questions, our Client Care team is always ready to help!

Marion Giddy

Director & Speech Pathologist