Fine motor skills are the abilities to regulate precise motions of the hands, wrists, feet, toes, lips, and tongue with the help of tiny muscles in the body. Handwriting abilities are mostly developed through the tiny muscles of the hands and fingers. Continue reading to find out more about what tools may help you.Often you will find that a parent with special needs child will have to tackle fine motor delays as one of the problem areas. Well, it does not really matter much in the array of issues a parent is firefighting during the initial years. Eventually, as you are inching towards school readiness, this skill holds your child down in ways that you may not anticipate. Ever heard that a child is cognitively ahead however, handwriting holding him/her down in a way that makes them repeat the tracing, legibility goals for a long time! Sometimes to the extent of getting aversive/mislabeled!
Well, I may have something to offer from my personal experience. As a mother to a hyperlexic kid with severe fine motor delays, I found my kid stuck with the “fist” grip for long, like really long. Cutting, gluing, scissor skills were significantly impacted.
After a year or two into intense OT therapies, I learned in my own time researching that fine motor skills are intensely dependent on gross motor skills. This simply means focus on gross motor skills to significantly improve fine motor grip. I then changed the strategy of his therapy goals to include more of balance, physical activity goals. It seemed to make a difference. However, I kept consistently researching tools/aids to support his fine motor skills. That led me to some products that truly made a difference. I know many of you may use short crayons, fat pencils but this post is more than that.
Heard of wiki stix, please give it a try! This relatively simple product did wonders for my son’s fine motor skills.
It helps improve visual boundaries which is a pivotal step in progress. My son progressed within a couple of weeks versus 2 years of doing the specialized therapies with mediocre results. Check out some fine motor support tools well under $10 below, worth a try, you will not regret.
Get them here on Amazon
My son made great strides in visual boundaries within weeks of wiki support.
Spring scissors- They have been the single most tool to help him deal with his anxiety around scissors.
My son went from not independently picking scissors to snipping bits of paper within months. The scissor has a spring that helps the hand movements, such that the child does not need to exert in opening the scissor! Helps like anything.
Special assist scissor – Check them on AMZ here
Specialized orthopedic pencil: This one is used in adults after therapy.
They are ideal as adaptive tools as they don’t break off like crayons. Moreover, you are not dealing with a kid that lacks motivation to hold those short ones, created specifically for OT.
These have a jumbo grip(dimensions LxWxH 7.56 x 0.94 x 6.1 inches) so almost an inch in diameter. It is perfect for children’s hands because of its thick size, which provides for a stronger grip- exactly what you need to practice with.
It has a lead with a diameter of 10 mm that cannot be broken. Strokes that are thick and gentle with 18 vibrant hues to choose from. You can try one of these separately under the price point of 5$. Check them out here, choose few colors and try them with your child! These helped my child to maintain the 3 finger modified grasp and eventually shift to a pincer grasp without prompts.
Gluing skills: Use colored glue sticks.
More often than not a kid with sensory issues may not have any idea of the activity of gluing and where it spreads on paper. This one helps set the expectation, visually. One such glue that has bulk discounts randomly – check it out here
Pinch me dough:-
If you are up for something slightly above $10 then consider a can of pinch me therapy dough(3 oz for about $15).This is not your scented playdoh, it is quite different with supple consistency. I must tell you that the scent of this dough can be felt across the room when your child or someone is using it. I used the Zen and Spa scents and, the scent stayed for hours after the dough was put away. This is probably why it earns its name as a calming scent that persists.
Secondly, the dough consistency is soft and supple, non-sticky delivering quite the pinch that you will get addicted to. Gentle pressure, light strokes, and relaxing scents could keep you kneading. The dough has not gotten flaky, does not dry out, and pretty much stays the same once tucked away, ready for future uses. If your kid is a sensory seeker, please do try this! It’s a great product to satisfy their olfactory sensory needs and redirect them appropriately. In our personal experience, this nontoxic scented dough has helped my kid with transitions.
I would recommend pinch me dough if you are seeking relief naturally from difficult transitions, adding it as a fine motor activity that also helps with their sensory needs. Whether you are stressed, struggling to focus, bored this is exceptionally helpful.
Be patient and believe that it will come along, fail fast, and don’t stop experimenting on new ideas. You may want to check my post on how to work on gross motor skills here.
Frequently asked questions:
Why fine motor skills are important?
They are important not just academically, but did you know they are most important in selfcare. Self care including. dressing – tying shoelaces, doling up zips, buttons, belts, pulling your shorts all need fine motor skills to grip and manipulate. Academically, skills with a pencil scribbling, coloring, drawing, writing and cutting rely on fine motor skills.
What do gross motor skills include?
Larger motions, such as leaping, climbing stairs, or tossing a ball are needed for gross motor abilities.
When should I be concerned about fine motor skills?
Keep a tab on developmental milestones by age. Please remember that each kid is an individual who acquires skills at his or her own pace. A physician or pediatric therapist may be able to help with an examination if you are worried about your child’s development.
What causes fine motor delays?
Children with Down’s syndrome, muscular dystrophy, or cerebral palsy, as well as premature newborns, typically have fine motor delays. Vision impairments, dyspraxia, and other conditions might all cause delays.