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Typing Speed in "Touch Typing" vs. "Self-Taught" Typists

My husband, a marketing professional, is one of the fastest typists I know. I hear him on the keyboard cranking out e-mails faster than most people would get them done using speech-to-text. Granted, he is a lefty, and he does many things in his own unique way, but he has developed his own typing style, and to be sure, he doesn't orient his fingers on the traditional "home keys".

A week ago, I was working with one of my occupational therapy students, a middle school boy who has not been making progress with typing efficiency or speed this fall. He is sweet and hard working, and I hate seeing him get frustrated when he practices with traditional typing programs. My gut was telling me to adopt a different approach. So, I decided to do a little investigating. Keep reading to find out what I discovered!

The backstory is that this student also has dyslexia and dysgraphia, and so he has difficulty with spelling. In fact, I have noticed that when typing it helps him to see the letters (or keys) in order to spell the words. He hates "touch typing" (in which the eight fingers of his two hands rest on the home keys).

I discovered that there is research to support that "self-taught" typists can perform just as well as the touch typists. This 2016 study investigated the typing skills between traditional touch typists versus those who used a self-taught strategy (which initially may present by using a "hunt and peck" method). Results showed that comparable performance was noted between both the self-taught typists and the touch typists.

Read more at the article link HERE

My own theory is that many times the kids we work with who have DYSGRAPHIA and/or DYSLEXIA truly need processing time when it comes to selecting letters (the correct keys) to use to spell a word. I suspect that being able to look at letters (keys) is an important element of typing in that these kids need to search for and locate the correct letters as they struggle to spell and type all at the same time. Of course, research is needed to support this.

So Here Are Your Evidence-Based Takeaways:

  • Typing speed can be just as fast using just 5 fingers as with using all 10

  • A typing course may not be necessary - People who did take a course may not be faster

  • A person can learn to type without looking at their fingers, even if they never learned the touch typing system

  • The two hands move very differently when typing

  • Many strategies lay between "hunt-and-peck" method and touch typing. Indeed, in general people type very differently

So, if a child on your occupational therapy caseload is teaching himself and making progress, the frustration of learning touch typing may NOT be worth it when it comes to typing performance.

I hope that this article is helpful for you and your children or students!

As always, feel welcome to touch base with me, Dr. Lisa Marnell, OT, by e-mail at I would love to hear about your successes, your struggles, and any questions or comments you have! Let me know if this post was helpful.

I also wanted to share that I am SO excited to share that I am developing a FREE Online Autism Masterclass entitled Helping Kids Master CALM. Sign up for this Masterclass at my website HERE:

Also, join my Occupational Therapy Facebook group and keep up to date as I post more tips to help teachers, parents, and therapists help kids master skills! Join HERE:

Are you following Kids Master Skills on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, or Instagram?

Finally, for a variety of skill-building resources, check out my store on Teachers Pay Teachers at

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