Can You Read My Tiny Handwriting?

My Handwriting in 2008….Big and Bold

How is it possible I did not notice my tiny handwriting? That is, until one day in 2012 I tried to write big. When a colleague was running late, she asked me to write a note on the chalk board so students would wait for her. I was shocked when I discovered I could not write big. I erased and slowly started again. I managed to get a message scrawled on the board.

Subtle Changes

Most of my writing was composing documents and emails at the keyboard from 2011-2013. Rarely did I write long hand except for lists, checks, and journal. Since those tasks were done quickly, I did not pay attention to how neat or legible the end results were. But subtle changes were brewing in my fingers.

My Handwriting  Changes Slowly in 2011….Less Precise

Tiny Handwriting and Tendonitis

Over a two-year period, my handwriting got tinier and almost illegible. Joe commented that he often had trouble reading notes that I left for him. I could barely read my miniature handwritten “To Do” lists. Still I was not alarmed. I thought my problem was caused by tendonitis in right elbow. Even an orthopedic doctor thought so as well.

My Handwriting in 2012….Tiny and Cramped

When it was time to prepare handwritten Thanksgiving cards for the faculty in 2012, I enlisted the help of my graduate assistants. They wrote the message. I signed fifty cards.

My Handwriting Summer 2013….Uncontrolled and Messy

When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2014, I learned what had happened to my handwriting. The basal ganglia are a group of neurons located deep in the brain that process information on movement such as using my hand to write with a pen. As the disease progresses, the basal ganglia weaken causing difficulty. Small and cramped handwriting known as micrographia results. It is often an early secondary motor symptom of Parkinson’s disease for some people. I would have never guessed! Later primary motor symptoms such as slowness of movement, tremor, and rigidity contribute to writing challenges.

To Be Continued: Handwriting Therapy

Question: How has Parkinson’s affected your handwriting?



Skip to comment form

  1. Knowing that both of my parents had Parkinson’s conditions and also an aunt and uncle, I keep a sharp eye for the symptoms I learned when my father was diagnosed in the mid-80s, many of which still hold true today like the handwriting. I have been fully computerized since the late 70s but I am also an artist and calligrapher as well as a skilled crafter and threadworker, and had feared losing my manual skills if I were to develop Parkinson’s. Ironically, my handwriting has always been inconsistent and often illegible, all my life, though that never shows up in my creative work, possibly because I’m exercising extra control over it for a purpose other than simply communication.

    I did develop tendonitis from typing long ago, not long after my father was diagnosed, and I thought I was in for it back then, but tests found my ulnar nerves were compressed and so I’ve been careful not to aggravate that. So far so good with my hands. If I lost their creative use it would be like declawing a kitty, it’s how we express ourselves.

    1. I think it is good that you have an understanding of Parkinson’s and are vigilant about being in tune with changes in your health. I pray your poignant analogy to declawing a kitty and losing the use of your hands is something you never experience. However, you are a gifted artist and I am certain you would fine ways to adapt just as artists I have interviewed on this blog have shared. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

    • Jackie on March 14, 2019 at 5:10 pm
    • Reply

    My handwriting is so awful I can’t write checks without enormous effort. I hate not being able to write in my journal and send cards to family and friends. It is currently the top rated annoying symptom.

    1. Hi Jackie, so sorry to hear the significant affect not being able to write has on your life. If you are able to type at a keyboard, you could use that as a way to communicate with family. I type my long notes and letters as well as journal entries most of the time. Also automatic payment of bills could help reduce the number of checks to write. I will feature a blog soon on handwriting therapy and I hope there will be a nugget or two that will help you. Thank you for your comments.

      • Jackie on March 15, 2019 at 8:52 pm
      • Reply

      Yes, I do use the computer for writing and hardly have to write checks because of online banking. Still, there is a certain connection I used to have with the longhand journaling and letter writing that I sorely miss.
      Thanks for responding, Linda. I enjoy your blog very much.

      1. You’ve done a good job adapting to computer writing and online banking due to your handwriting challenge. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, insists on 3 pages of long hand writing daily which she calls morning pages–a tool for creative recovery. I think the “connection” you miss is the value she sees in long handwriting. Thanks so much Jackie. I am glad to hear you enjoy the blog.

    • June Ritar on March 14, 2019 at 9:14 pm
    • Reply

    Small handwriting was one of the first signs of my Parkinson’s but just prior to that my right hand was cramping when I tried to write. I could only write a few words before the cramping started and if I persisted the pain would go up to the shoulder. I had physiotherapy on that shoulder for six months with no improvement. I finally asked my Doctor, ” Could it have anything to do with Parkinson’s?” He then sent me to a Neurologist, who confirmed it.
    That was in 2007 and my handwriting has become smaller and smaller and so untidy that I can’t read it myself.

    1. Yes, small handwriting often appears as an early symptom of PD and we blame it on other ailments such as old age or arthritis. Or in my case tendonitis! I also understand from research that shoulder pain is an early sign as well, but can also be an ongoing issue. I know of several examples in my support group where the pwp had shoulder surgery, but is still in pain years later. I will blog about writing therapy later and hopefully there will be an idea or two that will help you. Thank you for sharing your experience June.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

%d bloggers like this: