They should do all assistive technology this way.

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I just finally got my resized ring splints (finger splints), and they don’t look like splints at all. Several people online have asked me to show them and talk about what they’re like in case they or their kids need them, so I’m including pictures and discussing them and their use here.

Here’s the view from the back of my hands, where they look like rings:

Fingers with silver ring splints

And here’s the view from the palms of my hands, where you can see how they connect together:

Silver ring splints on hands palm side out

What’s the point of this?

Among other things, handwriting can often be difficult for people who have joint hypermobility. (Here’s the webpage of the hypermobility syndrome association.) That’s when joints bend further than they normally do. The most common cause is benign joint hypermobility syndrome (my diagnosis) which is extremely common, especially among women, and it runs in my family. But there are also several rarer syndromes like Marfan’s and Ehlers-Danlos that have it as one of their traits (and there’s some debate as to whether BJHS is a very mild version of one of those or something separate). A lot of people don’t know they have it unless they have an extremely severe form, although even some people with the rarer and more severe problems don’t get diagnosed easily. There’s a fairly easy way to test yourself to see if you should get checked out for it, which is this test (in which I get either a 7 or 8 out of 9 — but be aware it’s possible to do it wrong if you have perceptual problems, the first time I saw such a test I thought I scored lower than a doctor and PT scored me as; also be aware that if you have various other symptoms (especially widespread joint pain or dislocations), or if a close relative does, you can still sometimes be diagnosed with BJHS with a score between 1 and 3, so best to check with someone who knows what they’re doing.

I don’t know if it’s true or not that autistic people are more likely to have loose joints like this. Tony Attwood claims it is (note that when he says “Asperger’s” he’s often including examples of other autistic people without that label):

One of the movement disturbances associated with Asperger’s syndrome is lax joints (Tantam, Evered and Hersov 1990). We do not know if this is a structural abnormality or due to low muscle tone, but the autobiography of David Miedzianik describes how:

At infant school I can seem to remember playing a lot of games and them learning us to write. They used to tell me off a lot for holding my pen wrong at infant and primary school. I still don’t hold my pen very good to this day, so my handwriting has never been good. I think a lot of the reason why I hold my pen badly is that the joints of my finger tips are double jointed and I can bend my fingers right back. (Miedzianik 1986, p. 4)

Should problems occur from lax joints or immature or unusual grasp, then the child may be referred to an occupational therapist or physiotherapist for assessment and remedial activities. This should be a priority with a young child, since so much school work requires the use of a pencil or pen.

(That’s from page 263 of The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome by Tony Attwood.)

So, I’d always thought I was “just” dysgraphic in school. I was always having my grip corrected and my only way to produce neat handwriting was to eventually learn to ignore severe pain in my hand. I had one set of people try to help me grip it better in elementary school, and another set of people while I was in college, but nobody did an assessment of my flexibility levels. Then after diagnosis with hypermobility last year, all this stuff started to make sense.

So, what these splints do, is they make it impossible for joints to hyperextend (extend beyond their normal limits), or at least to do so very much. Here’s my finger being bent without a splint:

finger bending backwards at tip and middle knuckle

And here’s the same finger being bent with the same amount of force, but with a splint:

Finger being pressed on with a splint on but not bending

You can see that in one picture the joint bends backwards a lot and in the other one it doesn’t.

This also makes a difference in handwriting. Here’s one of my versions of a grip on a pen without a splint (sometimes I use 3 fingers to stabilize things, sometimes 2, but same result):

Holding a pen without splint with fingertips bent back

It hurts just to hold a pen like that for less than a minute.

And here’s my grip on a pen with the splint:

Gripping pen with splints on

So there’s a big difference there.

And the difference it’s making for me is less pain while handwriting, less pain while typing, less pain in general. The actual bending itself doesn’t directly cause the pain. What does cause pain is the constantly having to press harder and further on everything because if I press more lightly my fingers just bend back instead of accomplishing whatever they’re supposed to accomplish. (This is why people with hypermobile fingers are usually slower at playing certain musical instruments, there’s a finite rate at which we can press because it takes us longer.) And having them bent backwards like that in the long term doesn’t do any favors to my joints either.

Which is why I’d say, if your kid is having trouble with handwriting, please get them checked for this. I’ve talked to way too many people who are parents, or who know parents, with kids with handwriting problems, and I ask if the kids are super-flexible, and they say yes. But they rarely connect the two on their own, and neither do the schools.

I wish I’d had them when I was seven years old and struggling to handwrite only to be accused of not trying when my hand gave out, and having even my odd (they called it ‘immature’) grip seen as a behavioral problem rather than a physical one. I really believed that ‘not trying’ thing, too, since I had no sense of what was and wasn’t normal pain-wise. So I eventually learned to ‘try’, which meant, mask pain to the best of my ability and keep writing, and I finally got neat handwriting five or six years later (and in fact got so skilled I could write in several different handwritings, forwards and backwards, because of how hard I was working). But that hasn’t entirely lasted as I’ve gotten more body awareness than I used to have, as well as more of a sense of how much pain is too much to ignore.

When I tried handwriting in the occupational therapist’s office today, I kept waiting for the pain and it didn’t happen. I’m not sure thumb-related pain will fully go away (see below), but I didn’t experience it today. And I certainly didn’t experience the general hand pain I normally do that probably comes from stress on the things that do all the moving things in the joints (I don’t know all the words for these things).

Here are the splints off my fingers by the way:

a thumb splint and two different kinds of finger splints

The big one with the chain attached is a thumb splint. The other two are two kinds of finger splints: One to prevent mild-moderate hyperextension and the other — the one with the little round spacer thing in between the two rings — to prevent severe hyperextension. I’ve got the mild-moderate ones on my pinkies and middle fingers, and the severe ones on my pointer and ring fingers.

The one thing the occupational therapist said these things could not do, is fully stabilize the base of my thumbs, or stabilize at all the base of my pointer fingers, which are my two loosest sets of fingers. She said it’s just not capable of that level of support and I’ll have to try something else if I want more support than I’ve got on those.

I’ve also got less pain typing. Normally there’s a sort of sharp pain that starts in my wrists or hands and shoots into my fingers, very similar to what walking without ankle braces does to my legs. And that’s gone as well as far as I can tell.

Anyway, what I was thinking when I got these, is they should do all assistive technology this way. These aren’t just functional, they’re also pretty. (And for people who can afford it, they even make versions with stones set in them and stuff.) A lot of assistive technology gets hung up on looking like it crawled out of a hospital or something. These splints are taken by most people as just jewelry. (I’ve been wearing the pinky ones for a month now while waiting for the rest to be resized.) My mom said when I got these I’d end up looking like a hippie, but oh well, it wouldn’t be the first time. :)

I know there’s been some progress in making other assistive technology attractive, but it hasn’t come as far as these splints have for the most part.

(To find people who make splints like these, there’s Silver Ring Splints in America and Silver Splints in Scandinavia, the Netherlands, and apparently the rest of Europe too. There’s also a plastic kind that are cheaper but also less comfortable and don’t fit as well, and then another plastic kind that’s custom-made that I saw on a mother’s blog for a hypermobile kid who had cute little multicolored and obviously customized plastic ones. I’ve also heard that you can replace the bracelets that hold the thumb splints on with your own custom ones, so I’m thinking about doing that. Also, many of these companies will also make them in gold if you’re allergic to silver.)

The interesting thing to me, also, is that assistive technology likely to be used by non-disabled people (which is to say, most assistive technology, of the sort that isn’t normally singled out as assistive even though it is) is often already made with aesthetic considerations in mind, whereas assistive technology for disabled people (the kind that is normally singled out as assistive) generally isn’t. Since, of course, assistive technology primarily used by non-disabled people isn’t singled out as medical, and since, of course, medical seems to mean uncomfortable and ugly a lot of the time when it comes to equipment.

And, basically, if you have the means to get any splint that works this way for you or someone you know who needs it, you should try. It has been worth both the wait (since February, and a longer wait than usual because I had to send most of them back to the company for resizing) and the hassle. I’ve been letting anyone know who seems to have hypermobile joints (which is a lot of women I run into and a few guys, including a staff person who described getting out of class in high school by popping his thumb out and claiming it was broken), almost all have been interested, and almost none have ever heard of this as a potential cause for their joint problems or handwriting problems. Same with parents I talk to whose kids have this problem, they’ve often never heard of it (or of any solutions for it) even if the school is kicking up a major fuss over things like handwriting and even if the kid is really obviously flexible. So anyone who might run into someone in this situation, keep that in the back of your head, because doing something about it can save a lot of headaches (or, I guess, hand-aches).

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56 responses »

  1. YAY.

    They keep saying since my writing is legible, my 9/9 beighton is irrelevant. Heh. Gotta love beaurocracy, the antithesis of logic. But I’m SOOO glad the ring splints are working for you.

  2. Interesting. I can also bend my fingers like your, and hold my pens the way you show in the picture without the splints. I got hassled for it a lot in school, but I only experience pain if I’ve been writing for a long time which nowadays only occurs when I have an exam.

    I like that the splints are quite attractive looking. More like jewelry. How nice!

    What a great, informative post!

  3. Amanda, thank you so much for posting this. I didn’t realize until very recently that my hypermobility was unusual. It is very helpful that you posted this wealth of information.

  4. That’s very interesting – I wonder if this expains my very poor handwriting. I only scored a 1 on the Beighton test, but my grip on a pen looks very similiar to yours without the splints, and I can bend the tip of my index finger back just like you do in the picture. I never considered that being able to do that might not be normal.

  5. My fingertips bend back like yours, but I only score a 1 on that Beighton test. I had no idea that fingertips weren’t supposed to bend back like that, I guess I’ve never really looked much at other people’s hands. My handwriting has always been rubbish and the only way I can hold a pen/pencil without dropping it or at the very least have it wobble all over the place is the “wrong” way. My handwriting is most legible with a fountain pen or felt-tip pen, probably because it requires less force than other kinds of writing instruments–although pressing down hard can act as a sort of brace to keep my grip steady.

  6. I have the same hypermobility, I guess the old fashioned typewriter I learnt on was hard on the old fingertips considering the force it took, electronic keyboards are kinder (although there is the accumalative RSI damage further up that makes typing impossible some days.

    As for handwriting, my adaptive solution to that is not to. the problems extend way beyond the fingers into the wrist which is why I gave up on it more than 25 years ago.

    I have wrist splints but I find them impractical.

  7. No, it makes no sense, especially as I’m long diagnosed EDS 2. To them what matters is that they can read my writing.

    As more people show benefits from the splints who are LESS hypermobile, it becomes more likely that everyone who needs them can get them. Eventually.

  8. I’ve known that I’m hypermobile for a long time, but looking at the photos of you writing has finally helped me to figure out why my writing grip looks so wrong. Thank you for a very informative post. I wish that someone had known this stuff when I learning to write and getting lots of comments about my weird grip!

    It also makes sense of my piano playing. Everyone always assumes that it must be easy because my hands are so flexible, but I’ve always found it tricky because my fingers bend backwards and lock into positition at awkward moments. I feel a little less crazy now!

  9. Pingback: Interesting link on hypermobile hands « Of Code and Cats

  10. Fledchen: I was surprised, too. Then I searched around for images of people writing, which are easy to come by. Most not only didn’t have the fingers bending backwards, but also had the fingers bent the proper direction, some just unbent in any direction. Then a small number, usually women, had fingers bent backwards while writing.

    (And given the prevalence of hypermobility in women, that makes sense. This table lists various samples of people from the general population who were tested for hypermobility, with variation in how strict the criteria were. And some of the female samples went up to nearly 40% of women checked for it.)

    I also read that hypermobility was more commonly a few joints than all joints — so having hypermobile fingers but not a whole lot else might be very common.

  11. hey.I’m glad you found something that works. Yes, they are very pretty. I wouldn’t have guessed they were assistive devices..

    I think if people who needed any kind of assistive technology/devices had more input into how it is made, they’d look quite a bit better.

    I imagine assistive devices look very medical or whatever because people who don’t need them, made them. Many of us on the spectrum (not including yours truly. Ivan….maybe a little) are good at taking things apart and putting them back together…..and building things.

    Perhaps those of us who have those skills, should start thinking about developing assistive tech devices that (in their opinions and others) don’t look hideous. Perhaps that could be another idea for the autistics.org project in the future….I know you have your hands full with that for now. Just think about it for later.

  12. Hm. I got a one on the beighton thing, but I have always had difficulty (and pain) with trying to hold spoons and pencils. I had absolutely no idea until this post with the pictures that the bending of the fingers might result in the pain and difficulty writing (which has allotted me more time on tests because my handwriting, and unfortunately I have an essay exam in my worst subject history in a few hours). I am more flexible than most people my age (at least, that was true in ninth grade, when they had us do state physical testing, and of about 100 people I was being the most flexible), though not nearly as much as my oldest sister, who could bend her fingers back a lot more than I could, plus other double-jointed things (I think this is why I didn’t consider for a long time that I might be unusually flexible, since I was nowhere near as flexible as my sister).

    I also have pain typing, but it is much less than handwriting, so I type as much as possible rather than handwrite. Unsurprisingly, my note-taking skills have dramatically improved in the last few years I’ve been allowed to type notes.

  13. I think we actually have damaged nerves in one of our fingers from our “pencil death grip.” Um, basically, there’s a numb spot on our right index finger that never seems to go away, and sometimes hurts, which happens to line up with the place where we have it pushed up against a pen or pencil when writing. We don’t have it on our non-dominant hand, only the one we write with, so it doesn’t seem to have to do with typing or anything. We suspected for years that our difficulties with holding pens or pencils for long periods of time might have something to do with “muscle weakness,” but… gah.

    The way we had to grip our pencil when writing was just one of those things we assumed to be normal for years and years. We just switched to typing everything as often as we could, when we first came in contact with the idea of word processors, and never had any idea until we read this post that these things were available. (We knew that some of the other stuff wasn’t quite “normal”– we apparently score 8 out of 9 on the Beighton scale, and other kids used to harass us about “it’s so gross how far your knees bend back, you look like a freak”– but it didn’t occur to us for a long time, for some reason, that anyone might have tried to define or study this stuff, or that it was a trait shared by anyone else, anything but us just being a “freak.”)

  14. Very cool, and yes they look quite nice.

    I actually have a sort of opposite to hypermobility — my wrists don’t bend back more than 30 degrees or so. That is, I can’t do the classic “push-up” position with hand 90 degrees back from my forearm. This ran on Dad’s side of the family; my uncles assure me there’s also a limit to my shoulder range, but I’ve never had a real chance to compare that to someone “normal”.

  15. I’ve never heard of splints like this before. I like that they’re effective AND look like funky, original jewelry. It makes me wonder if my muscle-weak stiff fingers could benefit from something related, maybe even something I could make with my rudimentary jewelry making skillz.

    Thanks for sharing.

  16. David: Yeah, also a person can be hypermobile in some joints (and some directions) and not others.

    And, just for “fun” (sarcasm alert), there can be joints that develop restricted mobility as a result of being originally hypermobile. My neck is a case in point, I now have restricted range of motion in one direction whereas I had always been hypermobile in it before. And one of my fingers is permanently restricted in motion as a result of a sprain while reaching (relatively gently, but at just the wrong angle) to pick up a book.

    I talked to someone else at one point who said it’s weird how much something called hypermobility now restricts her mobility.

    So I have some joints with a normal range of motion, some restricted, some hypermobile, and some a combination of the above depending on which motion is being described.

  17. Ooh, pretty! And yes, in addition to the “therapeutic” label adding hideousness for some reason, it also usually adds cost, whether it applies to, say, an interactive toy, a weighted vest, or friggin’ horseback riding. I think folks are really getting cooler about making assistive stuff look more attractive, but yeah, the attractive stuff often comes from manufacturers and sellers who *aren’t* trying to milk the therapeutic label. And there’s no reason why making an assistive device look less ugly should jack up its price — for example, a cute pair of plastic eyeglasses costs just as much to make as a hideous pair of plastic eyeglasses, and holy mole, folks in the last couple of centuries actually started wearing eyeglasses for fashion! By the way, I’m still so happy I found your post about Zenni Optical back in the day . . . both my husband and I have nutty prescriptions and it’s nice to have found a site that charges fairly for what it’s selling you — which is, after all, just a piece of plastic.

  18. When I was young I did not believe the notion that hypermobility could be considered a disability in any way, but then I heard it could have implications for joints in later life, oh well I have found out the hard by ageing I suppose.

  19. wow…that is too cool. my son with autism doesn’t have this issue but my older son who is not on the spectrum does have the handwriting issues. we have tried all sorts of things but I had never heard of this.

  20. Hmm. My fingers do bend like yours, kind of; I’ve sometimes idly wondered about that. But as for lax joints in general – man, I wish. I seem to have the opposite problem – stiff joints, lack of flexibility/range of motion, and just an overall ungainly body. I suppose being too flexible wouldn’t be good either, but so often, what I wouldn’t give for more flexibility. Thanks for another good round of info!

  21. mom to max: One thing that had always confused me, by the way, was that I had always assumed I had bad fine motor skills in general, leading to bad handwriting until my motor skills matured more (but then bad handwriting again after awhile, which I couldn’t figure out). But my typing speed goes against that idea, as do many of the tests I’ve undergone of fine motor skills. So discrepancies like that are another thing to look for.

  22. My husband realized our 7 year old son’s fingers were hyperflexing “double jointed” and his teacher is failing him in handwriting. He is also being labeled as “hyperactive”. I think maybe is adapting to the pain with his “hyperactive” behavior – not realizing to say “it hurts”. I just connected the two together today… but noone seems to believe me so far that the hyperflexible fingers are an issue! I will take it to his physician if the school won’t address it with the OT there… probably should inform the physician anyways. He is also having speech issues. He had drooling issues as a toddler (bad drooling). I’m going to keep researching to see if maybe some of this is all connected. Since I’ve put it all together…. I just look at the people around him at school and think… GEEZ you guys… can’t you pick up on this! An OT and COTA I work with don’t think the hyperflexible fingers would affect his handwriting that badly…. but I think it does (of course they haven’t seen him).

  23. I’ve only just gotten diagnosed with EDS after years and years of dislocations and pain. I actually can’t hold thin pens anymore, I can only use super fat ones (like the PhD pens) and I hold them as if I am making a fist. Now that I know what my problem is, I am going to ask about finger splints. It’s amazing how much a tiny joint like that can hurt so incredibley much!

  24. I just watched your videos on YouTube for the first time after reading the Wired article in a doctor’s office yesterday. My brother, we believe, has autistic traits. He’s been mentally disabled since birth and is now 25. He has OCD and continually does the same things. Just the thought that perhaps he has an inner voice that he tries to get out in his own ways…is comforting. Thanks to you for making the videos that you do. I’d love to chat with you sometime! :-)

  25. wow!
    I have been needing finger splints and had no idea where to start. someone told me about splints they saw that were like silver rings but didnt look more into it. I stumbled upon your utube blog from a anger vent blog, so a hop,skip and a jump a few websites to reach your videos and your blog. Your videos are fantastic, and what I mean by that is that they are really eye openers to those who have not had experiance with autism. after watching several videos I clicked onto your blog and saw this entry about splints and was insanely thrilled. you not only have said splints but you were kind enough to explain how they work and everything for us. I have hypermoble ehlers-danlos syndrome. mostly in my larger joints but now in my hands and stuff.
    Thanks so much for sharing so much!
    -Marikay

  26. I’ve never heard of these and I don’t need them (though I do know people who could benefit from them) but I just have to say they are actually rather pretty!

  27. “They should do all assistive technology this way”

    Yes, they really should. Compared to the cost of developing the things in the first place, the cost of making them aesthetically pleasing is pretty minimal. At the end of the day, something like a joint splint or a hearing aid (etc. etc.) is going to be worn day-in, day-out in most if not all cases, so spending a little effort on making it not look like some kind of torture instrument is a good idea.

    “Looks nice” is almost certainly not on the design specification, which is probably why it doesn’t happen often. Nonetheless, it’s good to see some people are bothering to think about their products, and the way they are used. It’s surprisingly difficult to get engineers and designers to think that way, sometimes.

  28. My fingers don’t bend too extreme. I can notice the difference only in my left pinky; however, I have noticed in more recent years how painful and strong a grip I have on a pen/pencil so much that my writing stamina is utter crap. Thank god for computers. I always knew I had hypermobile elbows (actually, it’s fun to kind of gross people out with bending them back in strange positions, hehehe). But I never thought about it in relation to my hands and my poor writing stamina and hard grip.

    For me, however, it’s worked out well just to do most of my writing on computer and for anything in which I’m required to write by hand, I’ve been given accommodations for extended time.

  29. I work in a child development centre as a speech Language pathologist ( so I am working with children under 6) I have never seen these reccomended by the Occupational Therapists there, I wonder if they are suitable for small children learning to hold crayons, pencils etc as well, firstly- they look awesome, like some kind of crazy body jewellery. So many assistive devices look so ” medical ” and the children and parents shy away from them because of that. I am going to go ask the OT’s I work with on Monday if they have seen these or are aware of them :)
    Also to follow up on your comment on hypermobility of the joints. When we do our assessment of children we do a team assessment – Speech Path, OT and Physio, hypermobility of the joints seems to crop up very often with children that eventually end up getting an ASD diagnosis. So although I cannot quote any studies on this, speaking from personal experience I would say this is very likely a frequent co-existing characteristic.

    An additional note, thank you very much for taking the time and making the effort to make your videos and also put together an informative blog on your personal experience of the world. I am finding it a wealth of information and it is giving me so much food for thought, in both my work and my personal life ( I have a child on the spectrum and also my husband has an AS diagnosis)
    heartfelt thanks !

  30. WOW! This just might be what my son needs. I googled “double jointed thumb hard time holding pencil” and was directed to your blog. If he “tries” to hold the pencil correctly he says it hurts and it looks a lot like how you hold the pencil with out the splint. Most of the time he just writes with a fist. Oh I’m so excited to know that there is possibly something to help him. Thank you for journaling about this.

  31. my finger bends like that when I hold a pencil.. I didn’t realise it wasn’t supposed to..
    my hands hurt a lot when I write, and the writing is barely legible.. but I just don’t write anymore.

  32. I have a 8yr daughter who is very double jointed and kids make fun of her I find at school she takes longer to do her work eventhough its neat she takes longer when writing so that it can be right children make fun of her because it takes her longer does she need ot or what can I do to help her.

  33. I think a lot of people including some doctors don’t realize how much difficulty double joints can cause..They are so used to thinking flexibility is a good thing…and it is up to an extent…I recently told my new doctor that I can put both hands flat on the floor and he thought that was a good thing. I was telling him my hypermobile spine has given me grief in the past.
    Most occupational and physical therapists understand the problems with such things and if your daughter has double jointed fingers and you are observing difficulty in holding pencils etc. it might very much be worth seeing a hand specialist. I know our daughter had much difficulty as well as pain with note taking and it took way too many years for someone to figure out the cause. I hope you are able to find ways to help yours early!

  34. Amanda–check your daughter’s pencil grip; if she’s holding the pencil the regular way (not bending her fingers back to do it, or gripping so hard her hand cramps up) then it’s likely she really just needs the extra time she’s taking. If you have to talk to her teacher about getting that extra time, especially if she runs short of it on tests, then do so. She will likely speed up as time goes on.

    Improper pencil grip is something that’s annoyed me over the years. I learned to write before I entered school, so by the time I was taught to hold the pencil “properly” (i.e., a way that wouldn’t give me hand and arm cramps), I’d been holding it the wrong way for years. I still hold it wrong. My fingers bend back and I’m moderately flexible, so I have to hold the pencil quite hard to keep from having it slip through my fingers. Naturally, I get cramps in my hand and arm very easily using this method.

    One solution your daughter might benefit from is a pencil grip that fits around her pencils. They come in different shapes and sizes, from foam to rubber, and can help you keep your pencil under better control. Triangular ones help you keep a good finger position; the rubber types stop the pencil slipping around so much; then it’s a matter of waiting and letting her muscles grow a little stronger (they have to, to make up for weak joints).

    I’d also advocate teaching her to type. At eight, she’s the perfect age to start; and typing is much faster than writing. It’s a great alternative to spending a long time writing and re-writing things if you take a long time writing (or, as I do, compensate by using a pencil grip that’s painful after half a page). I actually am allowed to type essay exams on a computer at the disability services office at my school; and it’s a great advantage to be able to think about what I’m writing, where otherwise I’d be focusing on getting it over with.

  35. When I was a kid, they spent ages giving me those rubber triangular things to correct how I held a pencil. It never worked.

    I hold a pen very much the way Amanda does. And my fingers bend backwards easily. But I don’t want anything that involves more doctors, diagnoses, or medical equipment.

  36. Yeah I had one of those triangular things too, they gave it to me the moment they saw my weird way of gripping a pencil. And it didn’t really work for writing. I loved touching the grips and smelling them (and holding them between my nose and upper lip) but using them was a whole different matter. They weren’t very useful to me at all, IOW.

  37. I hated those triangular things. Somehow they felt all wrong. So did the ergulr grips, but these days I like those better as it turns out they are slightly more comfortable.

  38. Damn. I’m fairly sure I have Asperger’s syndrome, I fit the criteria. And my fingers do that. I always thought it was normal.

  39. I know I thought everyone’s fingers did that, until I read this. But apparently, it isn’t normal.

    Of course, on the other hand, I used to assume that my bad handwriting and hand cramps were pure laziness and lack of perseverance, and now I can think it’s something to do with me being built differently.

  40. I wouldn’t have thought of it until I saw your comment, but it makes sense that arm muscles would be affected too. You’ve mentioned gripping pens, etc., harder without the splints (so your fingers will grip the pen enough to actually move it rather than just bending backwards). I’m not exactly a muscle/physiologist/anatomy specialist, but I believe the muscles between the wrist and elbow are involved in certain types of finger/hand movements.

    Incidentally, I have recently realized (after being alerted by a neurologist who was checking me out for something completely unrelated) that I seem to have mild hypermobility in some of my fingers. No other joints I don’t think. And not even all my fingers. But one very slightly affected finger does seem to be the one I use for holding a pen. So I have to wonder now if that might be part of why my handwriting is so terrible!

  41. Mmmm, yes, those triangular things smelled awesome! Sweetish, and texturey. But yeah, they didn’t make writing any easier. I think they made it harder.

  42. I’ve seen this post before, but I just noticed that I grip pens the same way you do without the splints. Which would explain why I write so slowly, not to mention the pain it causes. Even a short note makes my forearm start hurting. Writing anything of substantial length, like what I had to do in school, is literally agonizing. (The last time I had to hand-write an essay, my arm was spasming by the end.)

  43. Check out edfn.org–the Ehlers-Danlos website. There is lots of helpful practical advice there. Also, to be properly diagnosed it helps to see a specialist in this type of disorder (EDS, Marfan syndrome) such as a geneticist. I wear the thumb splints too, and when I wear them I have little or no pain–without them, I’m in pain again after a few days. I get a lot of “nice bracelet, kinda punkish!” comments.

  44. I was actually diagnosed (with hypermobility syndrome, not EDS or Marfan’s) by a jaw specialist of all things. It turns out he screens his patients for it if (like me) they’re having trouble with their jaw popping out or dislocating. Because it’s one common cause of it. (He also found some structural problems so he said it was probably a combination of both.) I’d previously been to doctors who told me I could not be in pain because I was so flexible (headdesk), so I just barely had the nerve to admit widespread joint pain to this guy. I’m glad I did though — ankle braces, finger splints, and assorted modifications to my wheelchair changed my life.

  45. I studied anatomy and most movement in your hands is controlled by muscles in the forearm. flexing the thumb across the hand is the only muscle actually in your hand. Everything else is a tendon, you can see the movement in the right position or on built guys when they show-off.

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