Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills are those that involve using the smaller muscles of the forearms, hands and fingers. These skills are used for finer manipulations such as using different grips of the hands and fingers. Examples of fine motor skills include writing, drawing, colouring, using scissors, playing with Lego, zipping, doing buttons and opening containers. Fine motor skills involve many underlying skills to ensure success in activities. These include coordination, crossing the midline, planning, body awareness, dexterity, strength, endurance, muscle tone, attention, visual perception, hand-eye coordination and sensory processing. 

Fine motor skills are essential components for activities of daily living involving play (e.g. puzzles), self-care (e.g. tying shoelaces, using cutlery) and academics (e.g. writing). Gross motor skills also play a part in successful participation in fine motor activities. An example of this is painting while standing, a child will need to have appropriate standing endurance, postural control and shoulder stability to promote strokes on the page. 

Difficulties in fine motor skills can present in the following ways: 

  • A delayed or awkward pencil grasp
  • Difficulty and resistance participating in writing, drawing and coloring activities.
  • Abnormal fatigue when engaging in fine motor tasks e.g. will complain of soreness in hands
  • Difficulty with buttoning, zipping, doing shoelaces, using cutlery and opening containers
  • Difficulty with finer manipulations such as Lego and puzzles
  • Poor self-esteem with fine motor activities. 

How can our Occupational Therapists help? 

  • OTs can assess your child’s fine motor skills
  • They are able to engage the child in activities to promote fine motor skills
  • OTs may work on underlying skills and/or the activity as a whole to promote skill acquisition
  • Provide recommendations for ongoing support