Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

Boy Wthout Arms, Honoured With Own Penmanship Award

13 Apr 2011What were you like in year five at school with your handwriting? I wasn't the neatest, and I remember being denied my ‘pen licence' because my writing wasn't neat enough....

However, I just recently found out at the OI Conference that I attended, that having bad handwriting is quite common for someone with brittle bones, as our hands get tired easily and can have the same effects as what an arthritis sufferer can experience when performing repetitive tasks. So to my fifth grade teacher, I say – take that! I wasn't bad at writing at all..... It was just part of my disability!

I found a story of a 10 year old boy from Maine in the US, has been awarded a national award for penmanship.

Awards are given yearly to children in the US, who have impressive handwriting, and over 2.5 million children have participated in the contest during its 20 year history.

The amazing thing about Nicholas Maxim is, he isn't as typical as all of the other entrants in the handwriting competition.

Nick was born without arms, he has stumps where his elbows would've been, and he is missing part of one of his legs.

Despite this, Nick refuses to use his prosthetic arms to write, he feels more restricted with them, preferring to use his own adapted way of writing with the stumps of his arms, and a little extra help from his face.

His best friend, Quinn, says that Nick writes neater than most of the other kids in their grade.

Nick's proud father, Everett, said in an interview ‘'No matter what it is, if he wants to do something, he puts his mind to it and keeps working on it until he gets it the way he wants it'.

A teacher from Nick's school secretly entered a sample of his work into the competition, the judges thought that Nick's work was so impressive and stood out to them, that they were compelled to create a new category, for children with disabilities.

Nick was the first to receive the award, named in his honour, the Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellent Penmanship.

Nick's Occupational Therapist is currently teaching him how to use a computer program that types what Nick says, to prepare him for the days when he'll need to write long essays. For now though, it seems Nick is more interested in writing on his own. What an inspirational little guy!

What were some of the things you did when you were younger to adapt life to suit your disability better?

When I was younger, having so many broken bones made it difficult to move to be able to reach things, so I taught myself how to pick things up with my toes.... Now my toes are like extra fingers, I can do pretty much anything with them, including a fun little party trick of lighting a lighter with just my feet!

Nick Maxim

A sample of Nick's handwriting

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