Taking the S out of CAPS

CAPS, Motor Dysgraphia | 0 comments

Written by Cheri Dotterer

April 30, 2020

The last part of the acronym CAPS – Control – Accuracy – Precision – Speed is speed.

As I ponder speed, I think about the batting cage. The automatic ball thrower is set up to launch a designated number of balls in a specified amount of time. As the recipient of those balls, you need a designated amount of time to set your stance between pitches.

What happens when the pitches begin accelerating in speed? You move from a proficient or advanced student to one covering your head in the corner of the cage until all balls have been thrown.

Speed in handwriting refers to the ratio that a student completed a handwritten task to time. To figure out their speed, take the number of letters or words ÷ number of seconds. Then multiply the result by 60 if you need letters/words per minute.

Could that be what it feels like when a student struggles to find words to place on paper? They are being bombarded with baseballs inside their head and need to run for cover?

Too many thoughts prevent them from mentally organizing the details that they need to put on paper. Their external behavior is refusal to write.

Research has been completed to compile norms for speed. Ziviani (1984) published a summary of this research. The norns are included in the Evaluation Tool of Children’s Handwriting (ETCH). Many OTs have this tool. Ask your local OT is your student’s speed is like the norms. The scenario above is behind for first grade.


Ziviani, J. (1984). Some elaborations on handwriting speed in 7-14 year old. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 58, 535-539.

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