Need a Sensitive Stylus?

Are you in need of a stylus that is sensitive and easy to handle for one of your students or clients?

I have searched and purchased a number of styluses with an OT perspective in terms of the needs of users with atypical prehension, movement, sensation and tone.  As OT’s we are always looking for ways to improve grasp patterns, compensate for challenges with movement or tone or provide sensory motor input using different positioning, grips, handles, weight or textures to facilitate improved use of tools to access or perform a task. Like pens or pencils, the size, shape, weight and gripping surface of a tool can all make a difference for individuals with mobility, cognitive or sensory challenges. So it goes with styluses.

Considering styluses for children or clients, I have been searching for different size and shapes of grips on styluses. I have found chunky styluses (such as the Cosmo or Cosmonaut), some that were heavier providing increased sensory feedback and also MacGyvered handles for styluses to enlarge the grasping surface or sensory awareness for the user.

Some styluses were heavier, providing increased sensory feedback for with reduced sensory awareness.

What I have overlooked (and may be related to the type of clients I more frequently service) are qualitities of styluses for individuals who require some of the opposite characteristics, that of light touch, light weight, ease of handling and accuracy. Aren’t all stylus tips the same  with exception to the size of the tip?

A comment posted by Ciara Campbell and subsequent emails mentioned the success she had with her stylus from Stylus R Us. Some search and contact with Mr. Stylus peaked my interest in his stylus science resulting in purchase of a Big Screen Jr stylus from Stylus R Us. This brought about a whole new appreciation regarding the sensitivity of conduction or touch capable of his styluses.

Having received my new Big Screen Jr. stylus featuring a .42″ handle and telescoping shaft, I found the handle comfortable and large, jus a little smaller than a Crayola large marker. What was amazing was the sensitivity of the stylus.

Mr. Stylus shared with me how sensitive the stylus was but seeing and using was believing.  With barely a touch of the surface of the iPad screen (not even touching) to activate an icon, menu or keyboard key the device accurately responded. It also did not skip or miss when writing or drawing, a source of frustration with use of standard styluses previously purchased.  I realized that not all styluses tip sensitivities or conduction are created equal.

Another quality of this highly sensitive tip was the ability to hold the stylus like  a real writing tool, not straight up but at an angle allowing connectivity of the side of the stylus tip. This allowed me to write with a mature pencil grasp, rather than having to hold it immaturely in an upright position like many of my other styluses (holding a Stylus R Us stylus in a mature manner is recommended by Mr. Stylus). This is something we are always trying to achieve but sometimes it is not capable with a standard styluses.

Retrieved on 8/7/2012 from: http://beststylus.com/how-to-judge-any-stylus.html

This is a bonus when using a stylus on a mobile device and working on handwriting and development of mature grasp patterns!

So what’s the big deal? My standard stylus works for me, why would I purchase a more expensive stylus that is more conductive? Here are a few reasons that come to mind from a therapeutic intervention point of view:

  • For use with individuals who have graded control but movement and activation of the screen is limited and effortful
  • For use with individuals who do not have proximal or large muscle movements but have remaining distal control such as:

Arthritis

Arthrogryposis

Muscular Dystrophy

Myopathies

Some spinal cord injuries

  • You are developing  handwriting skills and facilitating a mature pencil grasp and finger extension

Another bonus is that I was able to attach a standard large grip handle on The Big Screen Jr. which still allowed the stylus to have the conductivity needed to work very well on the iPad screen (Huh? – wow!). You may not want to use this grip on a stylus but the trial proposes that other grippers may be able to be used on one of the Stylus R Us stylus and still work accurately. Not the case will many other styluses.

Stylus R Us  makes many varieties of stylus with different handles/shafts but with all with the same sensitive stylus tip.

Would I purchased this for all of my students or clients?  It depends, if I had a student/client who had weakness and good control and wanted a needed accurate and efficient method of input, I would definitely recommend one of Stylus R Us styluses. If I worked with students on handwriting on my mobile device and wanted to facilitate a more mature grasp, the Stylus R Us stylus tips allow better positioning and accuracy when writing or drawing. For individuals with poor graded motor control this may not be the best choice of styluses.

As always the right tool for the task fit to individual needs of the user (and good clinical judgment).

Carol

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About Carol Leynse Harpold, MS, AdEd, OTR/L, ATP

OTR/L with 30 years experience in pediatrics, school based therapy and adult rehabilitation. Masters of Science in Adaptive Education/Assistive Technology with 15 years experience in AT in education of elementary, middle school, secondary and post secondary students. Experience with adults with disabilities in employment and work transition.
This entry was posted in Accessories, Handwriting, iPad, iPod/iPad Accessory, Occupational Therapy, Stylus and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Need a Sensitive Stylus?

  1. Erin says:

    We have had great success with the SALT stylus and Caduceus from ifaraday.com. You should check them out.
    Erin diChiara MAOTR,ATP

  2. Kami, OTR/L says:

    I have been using the Adonit Jot Pro. I really like that it is heavier and feels more pen-like. It has a disc tip that is very precise and allows you to hold the stylus at an angle that is more suitable for writing. The tip does seem a little fragile, so I have not used it with any students that I couldn’t trust to use it as directed.

  3. Carol Hesch says:

    Great info! Thanks

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