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brainyMy colleague, Lena Rivkin, and I recently spoke to three 8th grade classes at a middle school in Ventura, California about handwriting and what it reveals about personality. Showing samples written by recognizable celebrities including Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Beyonce, and historical figures like Abraham Lincoln, and Frederick Douglass, as well as President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, we demonstrated what their handwriting tells about them.

The students learned that the way handwriting is laid out on the page says a lot about how the writer arranges his/her life; that the writing style reveals the state of the ego; that the more complex elements, called writing movement (rhythm, speed, pressure, and many other aspects) displays the degree of self-control, self-image, confidence level, and so on.

The students wrote Lena and me thank you letters, which gave us an opportunity to view the unique handwritings of ninety or so 13 and 14 year olds. The content of those letters was gratifying—many of the kids said they were astonished to learn that handwriting reveals so much about the writer, and many of them expressed a desire to study handwriting analysis further. Several of them even followed up and attended a chapter meeting of the American Handwriting Analysis Foundation for extra credit.

But something else important came out of those letters. In several cases, the handwriting told us that the writer was experiencing serious emotional problems of one kind or another, including possible suicidal thinking. Some of them were struggling with untreated learning disorders.

I had an opportunity to meet with the teacher and share my findings. She was quite excited and concurred with every item I raised, and said she would use the information to get help for these troubled kids. Thus, handwriting can be a significant aid in identifying problems that might otherwise go undetected.

Even if the student later decides to use a printed style, learning to write in cursive first is critical to sound brain development, especially in the area of self-discipline, language, and memory. Many OT teachers are finding that students with learning disorders respond extremely well to cursive training, and they love doing it. Working backwards, if those kids had received cursive training first, perhaps some of the learning disorders they experience would not have developed. That seems to be the trend in published research.

For information about some of that research: and for information about handwriting analysis:

Sheila Lowe, president of the American Handwriting Analysis Foundation.