Writing Tools for Special Needs Students: Assistive Devices for Success

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Some children with disabilities may not be able to hold a standard pen or pencil. Others may be able to hold a standard pen or pencil but may have a great deal of difficulty using the pen or pencil to write. Ergonomic pens and pencils are designed to be easier for the child to hold and utilize. They come in different weights and shapes. Heavy weighted pens can help children with coordination difficulties write. Fatter pens and pencils may be easier to grip. Writing utensils with rubber grips are easier to hold on to. Some children may find large pens and pencils easier to hold and grip. Other children may find small pens and pencils easier to hold and grip. Allow the child to experiment with various writing devices, so they can determine which one is most suitable for them. Also have the child experiement with holding the writing utensils in different ways. For example, some children may have more success when holding a pen between the middle and forefingers.

There is a wide variety of asstitive handwriting aids on the market. The following sections list some of the popular models.

Pen Again

The Pen Again is an ergonomic pen that has a “U” shape at the top of the pen. The forefinger rests inside the “U” shape. The Pen Again shape requires less hand strength to use the pen. Less grip is needed to control the pen because the forefinger rests in the “U” shape and naturally holds the pen in place without requiring hand grip. Pen Again is also coming out with a child size ergonomic pencil for smaller hands.

Because the Pen Again has a much different shape and requires a different grip than a standard pen, it takes time to get used to writing with it. With practice, the Pen Again can make writing easier.

Ring Pen

The Ring Pen is similar to the Pen Again. Instead of a “U” shape at the top, the Ring Pen has a circle that the forefinger goes inside. The pen is worn like a ring and requires no grip when writing.

Wanchick Hand-Based Writer

The Wanchick Hand-Based Writer is a tool that is worn on the hand. It fits around the base of the hand and the forefinger. The part on the forefinger has a loop where a pen or a pencil is inserted. The Hand-Based Writer requires minimal grip and strength. Children that do not have the strength or coordination to hold onto a pen or pencil might benefit from this tool. Since it is worn on the hand, the pen or pencil can not be accidentally dropped.

EZ Grip

The EZ Grip is a rubber grip that can be slipped on most pens and pencils. The softness of the EZ Grip reduces hand pain when writing. Pen grip and writing coordination may be easier for some children using the EZ Grip due to increased diameter of the pen.

Other Ergonomic Writing Tools

Electronic devices are a good alternative to ergonomic handwriting aids for children who do not have the strength or coordination to use pens and pencils. Some children have more success typing on a keypad such as one on a laptop computer. Another option is to use transcription software such as Dragon Naturally Speaking.


  • Cumberland County College; Assisstive Technology Handbook; 2009