School Tools for Children With Special Needs

Help your child sit more still, write better, and read easier with these cool school tools for students with learning disabilities, fine motor delays, sensory integration challenges, or a bad case of the wiggles.


Pencil Grips

Boy Writing in Notebook
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Getty Images

Pencil grips can teach your child how to hold their pencil efficiently. This sampler includes nine different shapes, sizes, colors and textures to help you find the right one for your uneasy writer.


Pencil Toppers

Having a little twiddly thing atop a pencil to play with can help wiggly kids burn off some fidgety energy. You may wish you had one to fiddle around with at your next IEP meeting.


Paper with Raised Lines

Writing between the lines can be a major challenge for kids with fine motor issues, but this paper makes things a little easier by providing little pencil speed bumps. Slightly raised lines help your child know when to stop, and gives some nice proprioceptive input.


Tilted Surface

If writing on a flat desk is hard for your child, see if a tilted surface makes things easier. A metal clip on top keeps the paper from slipping and keeps kids from having to worry about holding the paper down.


EZC Reader

Bookmarks with a transparent colored strip across the top may help kids with visual problems to focus on words when reading.


Weighted Lap Animal

A bear in the lap is worth two "Won't you PLEASE sit down"s. The heavy weight of this stuffed bear gives a lot of proprioceptive input to reduce hopping-out-of-chair, wrapping-feet-around-chair-legs, rocking-back-and-forth, and general parental nagging.


Fidget Toys

Little hand-size mini-toys are fun to squeeze and fiddle and feel, siphoning off some of your child's distractible energy to make it easier to concentrate on what matters. Cycle through these eight tiny playthings if your child needs a deep bag of tricks, or let your child find the one she likes most and keep that one close at hand.



Put a little thrill in sitting still. This nubby rubber cushion with a little bit of air inside lets your child get the wiggling and jiggling she needs without having to get up and move around.


Pencil Weight

Work out those fingers! If your child has a light touch with the pencil, a pencil weight may be just the trick to making writing more legible — and more comfortable, too.


Light Filter

Flickering fluorescent lights can cause distraction and distress for some kids with special needs. Filters are affordable enough that you can offer to provide them if the school will agree to put them on.

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  2. Fertel-Daly D, Bedell G, Hinojosa J. Effects of a Weighted Vest on Attention to Task and Self-Stimulatory Behaviors in Preschoolers With Pervasive Developmental Disorders. Am J Occup Ther. 2001;55(6):629‐640. doi:10.5014/ajot.55.6.629

  3. Brown J. Use of weighted pencils to improve handwriting legibility. J Occup Ther School Early Interv. 2017;10(1):52-68. doi:10.1080/19411243.2016.1273160

  4. Morrow BL, Kanakri SM. The impact of fluorescent and led lighting on students attitudes and behavior in the classroom. Adv Pediatr Res. 2018;5(15):1-12. doi:10.24105/apr.2018.5.15