Motor skills are actions that require collaboration between the brain, the nervous system, and the muscles. Gross motor skills consist of larger movements such as throwing and catching a ball, climbing stairs or hopping. Whereas, fine motor skills include smaller actions such as grasping objects.
Strength, coordination and dexterity of hand muscles may not develop properly during infancy, leading to difficulties in completing tasks that require fine and gross motor skills.
You can tell there are problems with fine motor skills if your child:
- Has an awkward or immature pencil grasp for their age.
- Has messy, slow or laborious drawing, colouring or writing skills.
- Fatigues quickly when typing or using a mouse on a computer.
- Has difficulty (or achieves a messy/choppy outcome) when using scissors.
- Has difficulty performing precise manipulation tasks (i.e. doing up buttons, threading, or tying shoelaces).
- Tires easily when engaged in fine motor tasks.
You can tell there are problems with gross motor skills if your child:
- Is late in reaching developmental milestones (i.e. sit, crawl, walk, run and hop).
- Moves stiffly and lacks fluid body movement or alternatively looks awkward and appears clumsy.
- Avoids physical activity.
- Participates in physical activity for only short periods (has low endurance).
- Cannot maintain an upright posture when sitting on a mat or at a table top.
- Cannot perform the same skills as their peers (e.g. catch, kick, hop and jump).
- Is less skilful than their peers in sports.
- Is not able to follow multistep instructions to complete a physical task (e.g. obstacle course).
- Is not able to plan and correctly sequence events or steps in a process (e.g. step forward before throwing).
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may have trouble with some or all of the tasks listed above. A pediatric occupational therapist may use the multi-sensory approach to help your child improve muscle strength, sensory processing, balance and coordination, movement planning (praxis) and much more. In addition, an occupational therapist can help your child improve handwriting at school, which requires fine and gross motor skills. By working with one of our occupational therapists, your child can continue building a foundation for continued learning as well as academic and personal success!
To learn more about occupational therapy for gross and and fine motor skills, simply call Karp Rehabilitation at 604-420-7800!