Mary Cater MS, OTR/L received her MS degree in occupational therapy from the University of Puget Sound and is a Washington licensed, registered occupational therapist. She received level 1 certification as a handwriting specialist from "Handwriting Without Tears"® on September 2009 . A level 1 certified handwriting specialist has attended several '"Handwriting Without Tears" training workshops, completed case studies and testing of knowledge and skills to both evaluate and remediate all types of handwriting-printing to cursive. As she has 25 years as a school-based occupational therapist Mary understands the demands of children in school. Due to increased curricular demands in schools many students could benefit from extra help with handwriting. "Handwriting Without Tears" is an award winning program that was developed by Jan Olsen OTR over 30 years ago. Jan Olsen crafted this method as a result of helping her own son who had printing difficulty as a first grader. Multisensory media are used appealing to all learning styles ( visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic and manipulative). "Stamp- and See Screens"TM , small chalkboards,wood pieces entertaining music and pla-doh are used, The workbooks are attractive and are not visually distracting. Letters are a cleaned up vertical style. Reversals are prevented and remediated with smiley face corners, firm boundary small chalkboards and consistent cueing. Other common problems such as poor spacing, letter formation difficulties, and letter size inconsistencies are also addressed. Most importantly handwriting is made fun. Visit the website wwwlwtears.com for more information. "Handwriting Without Tears"® is a federally registered trademark for "Handwriting Without Tears".
Mary customizes the handwriting sessions to the student's individual needs based on an initial screening or evaluation. Large motor activity is often used to maintain attention. A wealth of multi- sensory materials are provided such as Wikki Stix,TM,, sand,clay, or shaving cream. Music may be utilized to develop flow with writing. If needed grasp development activities or adaptive pencil grips may be used to develop a functional pencil grasp. Themed age appropriate seasonal games and take- home crafts help to develop skills and a handwriting topic. Fine motor, perceptual and handwriting IPAD apps may be used as a supplement to direct handwriting training. A sensorimotor keyboarding program such as "Keyboarding without Tears" may be combined with printing or cursive as needed. Each session is tailored to the student's individual needs.
As an occupational therapist Mary understands the underlying sensory and motor foundation skills of handwriting. Occupational therapy addresses life skill occupations. As a student one of the life skills of a child is written expression. Occupational therapy addresses the many performance components of handwriting such as visual perception, shoulder/arm trunk stability, or spatial/ motor planning. Handwriting tutoring is one solution for children with handwriting difficulty or who just need a handwriting boost. due to lack of training. However occupational therapists can also offer a variety of low technology to high technology tools or adaptations to help children with handwriting difficulty. Children should be allowed the tools needed to express their knowledge and be successful confident students.