At a glance
Typing is often easier than writing by hand for people with certain learning and thinking differences.
Some learning and thinking differences can impact the ability to type.
When people struggle with the mechanics of typing, it can slow them down and impact the quality of their writing.
Many people with learning and thinking differences prefer to type rather than write by hand because typing makes writing easier. But that’s not always the case for people with certain challenges, including and trouble with motor skills. Even if they’ve gotten typing instruction in school, some kids and adults may need extra time and practice to master this skill.
Here are some of the learning and thinking differences and other challenges that can impact the ability to type.
1. Motor skills challenges
When people are formally taught to type, it’s usually “touch typing.” That means being able to type with multiple fingers without looking at the keyboard.
That can be a real struggle for people who have trouble with fine motor skills. It can be hard for them to coordinate both hands on the keyboard while moving one finger at a time to isolate a letter (or their thumb for the space bar). Using the trackpad or mouse poses an added challenge.
2. Spatial challenges
Spatial challenges may also create difficulties with typing. People have to keep one hand on the right side and the other on the left, hovering over the middle (“home”) row. Trouble with visual-spatial processing can make it hard to locate a specific letter in a sea of keys. It can also make it hard to gauge the spatial distance between letters.
3. Memory challenges
Some people have trouble remembering where the letters are on the keyboard. So they rely on their vision to search and find the right letter, which slows them down.
People who have trouble with spelling, or who have language-related challenges, can have an added difficulty. The fact that the letters on the keyboard are in a different order than the alphabet can make it even harder to memorize the layout. Also, keyboards usually have capital letters, while people mostly use lowercase letters when writing.
4. ADHD and executive function challenges
Trouble with focus can be a problem for some people when it comes to typing. Most word processors highlight spelling and grammar mistakes.
Getting constant feedback on what they’re writing can be distracting for people with ADHD and . They may lose their train of thought by focusing more on fixing mistakes than on moving forward with their idea.
People with attention challenges may also get distracted by shifting their gaze from a handwritten draft to the keyboard to the screen.
Trouble with flexible thinking can create a different type of challenge. Some people have a hard time accepting the computer’s corrections.
Tips to help with typing
It may take longer for some people to master typing than others. But those who do get proficient at typing often find writing tasks easier and less frustrating. Here are some tips kids and adults can try.
- Some experts say that if people find it frustrating to touch type, they should type in whatever way works for them.
- Try tablets for shorter tasks. Type using thumbs and fingers, a process similar to texting.
- If the highlighting of spelling and grammar mistakes is distracting, turn off auto-correct. Turn it back on when the project is finished. Make the corrections all at once.
- Use a typing tutor program to boost proficiency. There are many free programs online.
- Try an alternative keyboard. These have special overlays that customize how a standard keyboard looks and functions.
Keyboarding can be easier than handwriting, but some people may still struggle with it.
Kids and adults can try many strategies to build skills and confidence in typing.
There are tools to help with typing that can give practice and improve typing speed.
About the author
About the author
Kate Kelly has been writing and editing for more than 20 years, with a focus on parenting.
Keri Wilmot has worked with children, teens, and young adults for more than 20 years in a wide range of pediatric settings. Her teenage son has been diagnosed with ADHD.