Fine Motor Skills Development

What is fine motor skills?

Developing fine motor skills (FMS) is one of the many challenges that every parent of an autistic fine motor skills-rice-539897_640child could face.  FMS (or dexterity) is the coordination of small muscles, in movements—usually involving the synchronization of hands and fingers—with the eyes. It aids in the growth of intelligence and develops continuously throughout the stages of human development.

Children with autism have a hard time developing strong muscles in their hands and wrists. This is the reason why they have problems with picking, cutting, grasping and holding things with their hands. They could be stereotyped or called at as being clumsy or awkward because of their poor hand motor coordination. They could easily drop or break things.

My son, John could not easily hold things with his hands and because of this, I need to find a way to teach him how to control his hand movements by giving him activities that will improve his hand muscles strength and dexterity.

With the help of John’s Occupational Therapist, the following activities have helped John to develop his fine motor skills:

  1. Playing play dough by molding and rolling into balls through the palm of his hands.
  2. Stacking plastic cups together with both hands to practice strength in holding.
  3. Pressing and connecting pegs together to practice pincer grasping.
  4. Crumbling pieces of scrapped paper with both hands to make a small tight ball then try to alternate this by using one hand this time.
  5. Squeezing a water sponge or a squeeze ball with both hands and then with one hand.
  6. Cutting paper vertically into small long pieces.
  7. Placing beads into a piece of string.
  8. Constructing or putting together a Lego block tower.

These are just some of the fine motor activities that we did at home, and some are being supplemented in his school. Continuity of learning both at school and at home is important for my son’s progress.

If you have any questions, suggestions or clarifications, please feel free to leave your comments below and I will try to answer as soon as I can.


Adel 🙂

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8 thoughts on “Fine Motor Skills Development

  1. Hi Adel,
    I am really fascinated and educated by your article. I didn’t know much about autistic children. I never knew autism had anything to do with hand movements. It’s amazing how you can use these eight activities in improving on hand movement skills. It’s also great that these activities are yielding positive results. Keep up the good work.

    1. Fine motor problem is just one of the many developmental issues that autistic children faced. Developing fine motor skills will not just help them in strengthening their hand muscles but most of all it helps them in resolving some of their other sensory problems as well as it helps them to encourage eye contact thus allowing them to stay more focus on the task at hand. Thank you, Juliet. 🙂

  2. Great ideas to help work with motor skills for autism. I think it’s great that the school is incorporating this into a regimen that will help kids with this disability. I think we have come a long way in the school system. Not just in the school reaching out and helping the students, but I know at my son’s school, the students are very good with the kids with disabilities and bullying them is not tolerated. Everyone deserves an education and everyone deserves to be the best they can be. I think it is great how you have found ways to help your son.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. To develop my son’s fine motor skills is one of his target individualised educational plan when he was in primary school that needed to be actioned. The SEN coordinator of his school referred him to see an occupational therapist. All the strategies that his occupational therapist taught him were also taught at school. I also implemented these at home. These have contributed towards his early progression.

  3. To get their attention and to focus on doing the exercise is a challenge. Making it fun with games and toys is definitely the way to go around these. Giving them enough love and attention is also a great way to motivate them to further develop themselves. Thank you for sharing information about developing fine motor skills in autistic children.

    1. You are welcome and thank you for your valuable comment. Developing fine motor skills in children with autism is a hard task. It took a lot of patience and determination on my part for me to be able to help my son progressed easily. I agree with you that they need constant love and attention to stay motivated to further develop themselves. These helped my son to progress early in developing his fine motor skills.

  4. These are some great tips. It is obviously very important to make the activities fun and engaging for the kids, and all the bright colours go a long way to help with that.
    And they are all simple enough that you can easily do them at home.

    I have read that asperger’s kids can have a tendency to ‘flap’ their hands, particularly when they are anxious. Is this somehting that is common for austitstic kids too? And is it something that can be helped with these fine motor exercises?


    1. Thank you for visiting. Autistic children have this classic sign of flapping their hands when they get too excited. It is their way of expressing their emotions or what they feel inside. My son does this a lot when he was a child but has outgrown it now although there are still times that he claps his hands when he gets too excited or happy. I think fine motor skills exercises can help by letting him divert his attention through play using his hands most of the time but it doesn’t cure the “flapping of hands”. This sign of excitement will be lost over time as a child grows and matures. Hope I have answered your question.

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