Make Writing Fun for Children With Autism

How can we make writing fun for children with autism? Choosing exciting pens and pencils can boost your child's motivation during writing lessons. Read on to find out about some winners I’ve found.

I’ve noticed two problems autistic children tend to have when learning to write. Some kids, my son included, have a hard time gripping the pen or pencil. Others, my son included again, may need some motivation to practice more. The pencils and pens I’ve described below can help with one or both issues. 

Colored pencils

Twist 'n Write PenAgain Children's Pencils

The Twist 'n Write is a wishbone-shaped pencil designed so your child’s fingers will rest in exactly the correct writing position. So, this pencil trains children to hold their pencil properly.

The shape of it also makes it easier for kids to keep a better grip as they’re writing. And it comes in striking colors and an unusual wishbone shape many kids will want to use.

We’ve tried this pencil with some success. You just have to supervise with this pencil if they're prone to want to twist out the entire pencil lead. (My son is a sweetheart, but yes, we’ve had this problem. I can only imagine that in his mind that pencil lead is just begging to be twisted out:)

This video will give you a quick overview of the advantages of using this helpful training pencil.

Seasonal/Fun Pens and Pencils

Candy cane pensCandy cane pens have been a big hit at our house.

Writing is not one of my son’s favorite activities. So, when I find something that makes him want to write or draw nonstop, I take note of it.  

Right after Christmas one year, I saw a large selection of pens on sale at the local drugstore that looked like candy canes. They were cheap, only three for a dollar. On the chance that my son might like them, I bought a few. Now I wish I had bought the whole lot of them.  

Within six months, my son ended up running the ink out of several of them.

Shopping for these seasonal leftovers after a holiday is a very inexpensive way to stock up on pencils and pens that could motivate your child to write or draw. And even if all they ever do is scribble, that's a great fine motor activity that could strengthen their finger muscles. This can help them become better writers in the future.

Fun PencilsA few jazzed-up pencils can make writing fun.

You might find these kinds of deals at drugstores, teacher supply stores, dollar stores or even grocery stores. And as I indicated earlier, it’s a good idea to check for sales after Thanksgiving Day, Christmas, New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and any other occasions such as Back-to-School sales.

While you’re there, look for any unusual or fun-looking pens. And if your children are with you at the store, take note of any pens and pencils that seem to attract their attention.

Update: This year just after Christmas was over I walked into the local Walgreen's store and found those wonderful candy cane pens again! So I bought them all for 19 cents each. What a bargain! And my son still loves them.  

If you have a Walgreen's store near you and you'd like to try these pens, check out their after-Christmas sale next year, or even before Christmas if you want to increase your odds of finding them.

Latest update: This was written several years ago, so I can't guarantee Walgreen's will still have them. But you can get them from Amazon here.

Colorful pencilsIt doesn't cost much to make writing fun. These colorful pencils were only $1 at the dollar store.

Squiggle Wiggle Writer

Here’s a special pen that will fascinate the child who is bored with writing. It’s a pen that vibrates when you turn it on, and it keeps vibrating as you write.  

Although some kids will love the feel of the vibration, keep in mind that this feature might drive some children (or adults) bonkers.

But I think a lot kids will love this pen. And it can provide tactile feedback for the child who needs that kind of sensory input.

My son was so fascinated with it that his OT had to put it out of sight so he would do his work.

It’s something worth considering if you need to make writing extra fun or if your child could benefit from the sensory feedback that this pen provides. 

Take a look at this video to see this pen in action.

Washable Markers and Crayons

Washable markers and crayons are a great choice, especially since they are readily available at most discount stores, dollar stores, and even grocery stores. A lot of the fun with them is choosing the color they want to use.

Which is Best to Use, Pencils or Pens?

My short answer to this question is, whatever makes your child want to write or draw. I recommend trying different pencils and pens to find out what you and your child like best.  

Your preferences may depend on the task at hand. You may find a favorite pen for drawing pictures and a favorite type of pencil for writing letters and words.

Ultimately, you alone are qualified to decide what works best for you and your child.

If you want more information on pens and pencils for autism and which are best to use, check out this helpful article.

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