Fine motor skills are the skills needed to complete small tasks that require the use of the hands and fingers. Fine motor skills are broken down into the following:
- Reaching, which is the extension and movement of the arm for grasping or placing objects
- Grasping, which is the attainment of an object with the hand
- Carrying, which is transportation of a hand-held object from one place to another
- Voluntary release, which is the intentional letting go of an object in the hand after grasp
More complex fine motor skills include in-hand manipulation, which is the ability to move and position one or more objects within one hand without using the other hand to assist, and bilateral hand use, which is the use of two hands together to accomplish an activity. Young children with fine motor difficulties may appear clumsy, display poor hand-eye coordination, and have difficulty holding onto objects. As children with fine motor delay get older, they may seem disinterested in tabletop activities, like writing, drawing, crafts, and building (such as with Legos), as these activities will be challenging for them to complete.
To identify a child’s current level of performance related to his fine motor skills, our occupational therapists will administer standardized assessments, either the Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency (BOT-2) or the Peabody Developmental Motor Scales (PMDS-2), depending on the child’s age, to identify the child’s baseline of functioning related to his fine motor skills, and complete clinical observations of the child’s fine motor performance. These assessments and observations provide the occupational therapist with the information necessary to promote development of the child’s fine motor abilities, as well as to see where the child should be performing for his/her age.
Our approach to fine motor skills at North Shore Pediatric Therapy
Following the evaluation, our therapists work with children who experience difficulties with their fine motor skills by creating appropriate goals for the child, followed by intervention planning with activities that are fun, yet address the fine motor skills necessary for the child’s age. Activities that may be completed in therapy or suggested for home include arts and crafts such as finger painting or beading; building games such as Legos and Jenga; cutting, tearing, and folding paper; using clothespins; hitting balloons back and forth; completing puzzles; sorting objects; playing card games; putting pegs into a peg board; tasks that involve handwriting; as well as activities that involve twisting and screwing on objects.