As toddlers grow up, they develop fine motor skills that help them carry out their day to day activities.  In essence, fine motor skills occur naturally. This is what humans use to perform motor tasks, particularly with their hands. To simply put, fine motor skills are used to coordinate the movement of the small muscles in the hands for play, academics, and general activities. 

Without giving much thought to it, moving our bodies around is an amalgamation of complex and considerable amounts of skills. This means there is a lot of work involved with just walking, winking, and simply holding a pencil.  And several activities involve strength, balance, coordination, and fine motor skills. Developing such skills may differ from child to child especially for children within the Autism spectrum. 

In general, learning and therapy centers offer occupational therapy as part of a comprehensive treatment for a child with ASD.

In today’s blog, we are going to talk about how motor development is for children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and ways parents can help to facilitate their development of fine motor skills.

ASD & Motor Development

Several pieces of research have shown motor impairments as a core trait of ASD diagnosis.  A study published in the journal Autism indicates 83 percent of children with ASD were below average in motor skills.  In the same study, it suggested that children with ASD may be a year behind in the development of their fine motor skills in comparison to their neurotypical peers.

For children with Autism, the challenges in their fine motor skills can include any task that relies upon the hands. And since the hands are used so much in several things it may get in the way of their development and enjoying their childhood.  It is important to take note, however, that not all children with ASD have the same degree of challenges when it comes to their motor skills since each child has unique sets of symptoms and specific needs.


Addressing The Challenge

After careful assessment and a series of examinations, a treatment plan is structured by an allied healthcare professional. This can include listening therapies such as the Tomatis method and occupational therapy.  Not all children in the Autism spectrum are the same and because of this, treatment plans are child-specific. This means, while one treatment plan may work for one child, it may not be effective for another. Consistency is crucial throughout the course of the treatment. 

Parents should be involved and familiar with the treatment plan for their child. Being proactive in their role of assisting in the therapy programs included in their treatment. Early intervention is crucial especially in addressing the challenges that involve fine motor skills.

In order for parents to assist their ASD child in the development  of fine motor skills, the following ways can be implemented:

Playing with Modeling Clay

Letting your child play with soft play-doh, modeling clay, or putty. Not only can it promote creativity, but it can strengthen their fine motor skills as well.  Playing with clay can encourage the hand muscles since it involves the fingers, wrist, palm. The actions of pinching, pressing, rolling, and pounding the clay promotes fine motor skills.


Provide coloring materials and sheets of paper for your child to scribble on. This will make them accustomed and comfortable in working with different materials. Jumbo crayons are ideal since they are easier to grasp. To make this activity more enjoyable for them, play their favorite music in the background.


Tracing Dot-To-Dot Color books

Get your child a tracing book with simple pictures. Connect the dots workbook usually include tracing and coloring. These simple activities help them develop complex skills for writing and copying.  Some dots are arranged numerically or alphabetically this further encourages their cognitive skills as well. Teach your child to color within the lines after connecting the dots. This also teaches them spatial abilities. 

Nesting, Stacking  & Constructing Blocks

With nesting and stacking blocks, your child learns the essential skill of intentional grasp and release. This will also teach your child to control their fingers and position them for grip, and picking up things. Constructing blocks can train in pulling things apart and putting them together.

Ask The Expert

If you want to learn more about the different ways to further assist your child in their motor development, talk to our experts at Pulse Therapy and Learning Center to get the best support for your child.


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