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Message from an Occupational Therapist


As an occupational therapist, many of the children I work with have difficulties with written output. These challenges may be related to difficulties with letter formation, or deficits in visual motor integration, motor coordination, and/or fine motor strength. Often times, these children have difficulties creating legible writing, or writing at a speed that allows them to keep up with the information presented during class. Sometimes, their fingers fatigue or their hands get sore. Handwriting is one of a few means of producing written output; another means of producing written work is keyboarding.

There are many different online keyboarding programs available. Some web based programs are free of charge, other programs are fee based. In this blog post I will compare a few of the keyboarding programs available however this is not an exhaustive list.

Program: https://www.typing.com/

Benefits

Limitations

·       Visual cues of the keyboard and which finger strikes each letter.

·       A video prior to the activity to demonstrate the expectations of the activity.

·       Repetition to re-enforce motor plans.

·       Variability in activities.

·       Free of charge.

·       Able to jump to different levels freely.

·       There is nothing to ensure two handed typing and bilateral coordination.

 

 

Program: http://typingsoft.com/

Benefits

Limitations

·       Some activities have visual cues of the keyboard and which finger strikes each letter.

·       Lots of variability in activities.

·       Free of charge.

·       Able to jump to different activities freely.

·       There is nothing to ensure two handed typing and bilateral coordination.

·       There are many activities available and lots of visual stimuli which can become overwhelming to the user.

·       There is no clear progression of activities.

 

 

Program: Keyboarding without Tears (https://shopping.hwtears.com/category/keyboarding?m=Canada%20Individu)

 Benefits

Limitations

·       Visual cues of the keyboard and which finger strikes each letter.

·       A video with visual and auditory instruction prior to the activity to demonstrate the expectations of the activity.

·       Repetition to re-enforce motor plans. The administrator is able to pause the program at certain levels for the student to allow for additional practice at that level prior to moving on in the programming.

·       Variability in activities.

·       Gradual and appropriate progression of activities to progress skill level.

·       No visual distractions on the screen.

·       Ability to make the visual display larger or smaller.

·       Inclusion of mouse activities to work on visual motor integration skills.

·       All activities require the user to hold down a “target key” when striking the key instructed. This encourages bilateral coordination and two handed typing.

·       Participation is tracked so the administrator is able to see the number of activities completed, the number of days of participation, keyboarding speed and keyboarding accuracy.

·       Some customization of the program is possible however the program is fairly inflexible.

·       Each year long license is $10.70 USD.

 

At this time, I am using the Keyboarding without Tears program with the students at James Cameron School. I have selected this program after careful review of its benefits and limitations. I find that it caters best to the challenges that the students at James Cameron face as compared to other programs available. The students are able to participate in this program during their study hall block at school and at home on weekends, evening, and/or breaks. Their participation is supported and monitored by the teaching staff at James Cameron as well as by myself the occupational therapist.

 

Written by: Brielle Perler, Occupational Therapist (MOT, BKin) at Golden Ears Physiotherapy