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Detailed Assessment of Speed of Handwriting (DASH)

The Assessment of Speed of Handwriting (DASH) is a tool commonly used in pediatric Occupational Therapy (OT) to evaluate the speed and legibility of a child's handwriting. This assessment provides valuable insights into the child's ability to write quickly and clearly, allowing occupational therapists to identify any difficulties or challenges the child may be experiencing in this area. By comparing the child's performance to national averages and assessing their handwriting under different conditions (such as test and non-test conditions), the DASH helps OTs understand the child's handwriting abilities more comprehensively. Additionally, the DASH serves as an outcome measurement tool, enabling therapists to monitor progress and evaluate the effectiveness of interventions aimed at improving handwriting skills.

Where and how is DASH completed?

The Assessment of Speed of Handwriting (DASH) is typically conducted by a pediatric occupational therapist in a clinical or school-based setting. The child completes specific writing tasks within a designated time frame, and their handwriting speed and legibility are evaluated. The assessment may also involve comparing the child's performance to national averages.

Considerations for potential underlying issues

Handwriting presents a multifaceted challenge, requiring proficient fine motor skills, visual perception, and pencil control. Below are some factors contributing to poor handwriting:

  • Challenges in distinguishing objects from a cluttered background

  • Limited fine motor coordination

  • Difficulty with tasks like buttoning or zipping

  • Poor object manipulation skills

  • Struggles with drawing or copying images accurately

  • Uncontrolled movements while using a pencil

  • Handwriting that appears cramped or illegible

Occupational therapists employ various treatment modalities to enhance a child's handwriting. Before initiating treatment, the therapist meticulously identifies the root cause of the child's writing difficulties, serving as the foundation for developing an effective treatment plan.

Common conditions that may require a DASH assessment:


While all children may encounter challenges with handwriting, certain conditions are more predisposed to experiencing difficulties in this area. These conditions include:

  • Dyslexia

  • Dyspraxia

  • Dysphagia

  • Stroke

  • Cerebral Palsy

  • Muscular Dystrophy

Whether your child exhibits difficulties with handwriting due to a recognized condition or not, our occupational therapists offer comprehensive assessment and targeted treatment strategies aimed at enhancing their handwriting skills.

What does the DASH assessment evaluate?


The occupational therapist utilizes the DASH assessment to discern the underlying factors contributing to substandard handwriting. This entails a comprehensive examination and practical evaluation to assess how handwriting difficulties impact functionality, elucidating potential reasons for such challenges.

Impact on Academic and Home Environments: Handwriting proficiency significantly influences academic performance, affecting not only grades but also the ability to effectively convey knowledge. Poor handwriting may lead to frustration when points are overlooked due to illegibility, despite understanding the material. At home, completing forms and signing documents may pose challenges. Utilizing the DASH assessment, the therapist identifies specific handwriting deficiencies, recognizing the intricate nature of this skill and formulating tailored treatment plans to address underlying issues.

Social and Behavioral Implications: In addition to assessing the ramifications of subpar handwriting on academic and home environments, the DASH assessment considers its impact on social interactions and behavior. It offers insights into potential reasons for behavioral changes observed in various settings, such as decreased engagement in schoolwork and heightened frustration. By understanding these challenges, therapists can devise interventions to alleviate frustrations and enhance overall behavior in relation to handwriting tasks.

What will I obtain post-DASH assessment?


After the assessment, you may request a comprehensive DASH report outlining its findings. This report will entail an intricate analysis of the condition's impact on your child's life, alongside a treatment plan and recommendations aimed at enhancing their handwriting skills.

Available pediatric Occupational Therapy treatments encompass:

  • Refinement of pencil control

  • Enhancement of letter formation

  • Regulation of spacing

  • Improvement of legibility

  • Alignment optimization

  • Enhancement of fine motor control

  • Incorporation of painting exercises

  • Utilization of finger painting techniques

  • Practice in achieving correct grip

  • Specialized equipment such as pencil grips and sloped writing boards

  • Guidance and education on maintaining proper posture and its impact on handwriting

While this list is not exhaustive, our array of treatments is comprehensive. Should you believe your child could benefit from Occupational Therapy geared towards enhancing handwriting skills, please do not hesitate to contact us

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