Dear Callirobics' Customers
HANDWRITING AND THE THINKING PROCESS
“Sarah” was an adult diagnosed with a learning disability and an emotional disorder. When I saw her, she was participating in a special program conducted by the Adult Education Centers in California that offered high- school dropouts a chance to get their General Educational Development certificates (GEDs, formerly called the General Equivalency Diploma). Sarah felt that her handwriting looked very much like her first grade daughter’s and was anxious to make it look more mature. She was right in her observation: her handwriting looked more like that of an eight-or nine-year-old than that of a 24-year old. The slow movement of her writing, her lack of paragraph breaks and clear spaces between words, and her school-form letters attested to difficulties in concentration, memory and a confused and immature thinking process. Her teachers complained that an assignment that was supposed to take 10 minutes took Sarah two hours.
She started our handwriting exercise program with great motivation and dedication. A month later, she sent us some of her exercises for review. The printed envelope resembled very much her earlier cursive writing. The spaces between words and letters were almost even, the writing was “slow,” and the slant inconsistent. The letters were still in school format. However, four months later, a new letter brought a nice surprise. Sarah’s spaces had improved in both cursive and print; she had reduced the size of her letters, and her slant was consistent.
Overall, the writing looked more focused, and her teachers testified that her ability to concentrate had greatly improved.
By the end of the year, not only had she achieved her goal to have her handwriting look more mature, but also she had enhanced her overall ability to face new challenges. By then, she was able to finish a 10-minute assignment in 30 minutes.
A year later, Sarah got her GED.
HANDWRITING & SELF-ESTEEM
I met “Matt” in a self-paced class that was part of a dropout prevention program in our local high school. The teachers in that program have noticed that there is a correlation between handwriting and behavior. They were intrigued by the subject and invited me to give a presentation to the class and to work with interested students in improving their handwriting.
I chose Matt’s story for this article because at first look, his handwriting other than being very small, seemed to be quite ordinary. However, looking at the three most important components (space, movement, and form), we found it to be more complex than we thought.
Matt’s use of space on paper was very poor, e.g. the letters were very small, retraced and narrow. The spaces between letters and words was uneven, and the slant was fluctuating. Usually the space component reflects the writer’s self-confidence and his ability to adjust to his surroundings. The movement (pressure and rhythm) which reflects on the drive and energy of the writer was restrained and fractured. The forms (letter shapes), which reflect on one’s self-image, were sometimes illegible and twisted. In summary, Matt’s handwriting revealed his sensitivity, shyness, and insecurity about himself and his surroundings.
He felt very secure with the handwriting exercises program because no one tried to change his handwriting. He worked on writing movements rather than letters, and he worked on his own, independently. He could hardly wait ‘till our next weekly meeting to show what he had done and to get the new assignment.
Six months later his “new” handwriting looked as if it belonged to someone else. There was a flow and spontaneity to it, which meant more c confidence in himself and in his future plans. The letters were larger and wider, with no retracing. The writing slant stabilized, as did the spacing between words and letters. His first sentence, “I feel good about myself,” best summarized his feelings and the changes he had experienced within.
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