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When I was a child, I thought writing was meant to be painful. This is why, I thought teacher's would punish children by making them write lines, I felt the whole idea was to inflict pain. Of course a lot of other things required writing, and I felt the pain involved was just something you had to learn to live with - I never realised that everyone else wasn't experiencing the same thing. Only as an adult has it become apparent there are some abnormalities in my joints and bones, but the fact that I could never hold a pencil correctly was also likely an issue. Even now, I still find writing any amount of text painful, but I have found some things that help.
When my son refused to colour as a toddler, I thought it was a bit odd, but never thought anything of it. When he ended up sobbing in agony when we were out on a cold day though, I realised we had a problem. His doctor has said that it is very difficult to determine the exact cause at this time, but given the fact that he had Epstein Barr Virus very young, and I have auto immune issues makes Raynaud's a very likely culprit. We have dealt with the cold issue by buying special gloves and silk liners, but the problems cropped up again when we started home education. He had a lot of pain with any amount of writing - and I simply can not inflict pain on a young child. Like me, he was also unable to hold a pencil correctly. I did discuss this with a member of the school board and was advised to buy special pencil grips. We also discovered Stabilo pens which were a real life saver.
It really is unbelievable what a difference such a simple little device makes. Not only do these make him able to write without pain - they make his writing a lot neater as well. The stabilo pens do help as well, but there are times when a pencil really is needed. He has also had some improvement, and is able to colour a bit now with ordinary crayons. The original pencil grips I had bought when he was only 4 though, did eventually end up lost or damaged and I needed to choose a new set. I ended up with this set as it did have one the grips we were currently using, as well as some different types I wanted to try. In all honesty, I was hoping one of the smaller ones might work as you can buy a whole set of those for the price of one of the larger ones. This set includes 5 grips and cost me £6.99 from Amazon. This is expensive, but a single can cost up to £10. and most will cost around £3. The ones we were using were in fact the most expensive, with Amazon selling them at a whopping £10 each, but ebay was looking £5 at the time - someone does have them now at a better price.
The first grip in this pack is a very tiny nub, which does position the fingers correctly, but doesn't do much for padding. This is shaped with indentations for the fingers, but it is rather hard and only about 1 cm tall. My son does not find this one really helpful and it doesn't really get used. I'm glad I got the mixed pack though as I really considered a pack of 10 of these as they are very inexpensive. I find this very difficult myself and would not use it. My son and I both rate this as 1 out 5.
The next grip is simply a foam sleeve. It very soft and we both find it comfortable. It does take some of the strain off your hands, but it does not position your fingers correctly, and I do hope that encouraging proper placement of the fingers may help him avoid some of the difficulties I have had with writing. I believe this may be neoprene, but as the materials are not listed I am not certain. I think this would be fine for the average writer with no real problems, who just wants a bit of cushioning. It definitely makes writing a bit more comfortable, but isn't quite enough, ether for my son or myself. We both give this 4 stars out of 5.
The third grip is a triangular shape, made of some type of rubbery material. it Isn't nearly as soft as most of the choices, and I am not sure on the durability, but this is quite a cheap on to buy on it's own. I am ordering 5 for £ 2 now. I would not have chosen this grip, if it were not part of the set, I would not have bothered with this. It really doesn't look very good in my opinion, but my son says it is his favourite as it is the easiest to use, and it does position his fingers correctly, so I gave it a try and it does help. This has also completely convinced me to give the triangle crayons a try. I had been considering them after Azana's review - but they sound just the ticket now. If this shape keeps his hands from hurting - then I'm more than willing to pay a bit extra. I would rate this 4 out 5 for using myself, but my son gives it 5 out 5 and a full recommendation.
The fourth grips is 3 cm's long and made of a lovely spongy soft rubber like material, it is shaped to position the fingers correctly and very soft and comfortable. When sold separately these are listed as ergonomic grips. Amazon does not currently have the soft rubber ones of these, but they sell on ebay at £4.99 each. Of all the grips we tried, this is far and away my favourite for personal use, but it is quite costly. My son also really likes this one and says it is very comfortable but the triangle one is easier to use. I believe he is referring to the fact that your fingers do just automatically go tot he correct position with the triangle grips. My son gives this 5 out 5, and if possible, I would give it 10. This would have seriously altered my childhood had it been available at the time.
Finally we have the crossover grip. This the original style we started with and they tend to be very pricey. A single grip will currently cost you £ 9.98 by the time you pay postage from Amazon. Ebay currently has a real deal on these at only £2.50 each, but at the time I purchased this set, the cheapest was £5, which made £6.99 for this set look like a pretty decent price. This is just like the ergonomic pencil grip except that it has wee rubber "wings" for want of a better term that help encourage the pencil to take the proper shape. This is the type we started out with and while they do not look like they would last so long, we still have 2 of the originals bought 2 years ago, some have been lost, we cut the wings off one as my son later preferred them without wings but is otherwise perfect and one is in perfect condition. The wings are just a bit awkward though, and we both need to think about positioning when picking up a pencil with this. I do think this helped my son a lot in starting to write, but he prefers something easier to just pick up and get started without thinking about it. Personally, I don't find this quite as comfortable as the one without wings, although perhaps having adult sized fingers is part of the issue. That said, my fingers are quite thin. I don't think this would work for an adult with thick fingers. I am rating this 4 stars out of 5 for adult use, but 5 out of 5 for children. It may not be quite the favourite now, but it did it's job well when he started writing, and these certainly do last well. My son gives this 4 out 5. He likes it, but we may be cutting the wings off this one soon too.
I would note though, that when buying these individually, you specify left or right. My son is right handed, so of course we have this grip. The set does not offer an option of left or right handed though. The grip we received is identical to my son's right handed grip, but having never seen the one for lefties, I'm not sure if there is a difference, or if this one would work as well. It doesn't look like there would be a problem, but holding it in my left hand, it does feel as if my fingers are positioned differently. If you are buying for a left handed writer, please be aware that this may or may not be a the correct grip for them.
Although I have not rated every grip as 5 stars , I am giving this set as a whole the full 5 stars out of 5. Every grip may not be suitable for us, but this set really gives you a chance to try several types and see which one works best for you or your child. Not every child will do well with the same grip, and the school board did recommend trying more than one type as well. The crossover was the most effective at one time ( and we did try a few others back then too), but his needs have changed over the years so I'm glad we tried out other types. If you or your child has pain writing - do give these a try. I would also really recommend them for children who have trouble with the position of the pencil. I very much recommend the set to start out with as it means you can try all the common shapes and settle on the most appropriate for the individual in question. These are recommended for children, but I think many adults would find them helpful, especially those who must write quite a lot or have arthritic conditions, or other issues affecting the hands.
Would I buy the set again? I quite likely will. The price of the entire set is less than buying the ergonomic and the crossover, and he does still use these. He prefers the triangular, but he also likes to change over if writing for any period of time. I expect this also reduces strain on his hands. I've found these have really worked miracles with my son, and you can see the difference if he tries to work without one. I also find they make writing less painful for me, but I rarely write anymore, preferring the keyboard.