Fine motor skills are often the ones we take most for granted.
As adults, we’ve been using tools successfully for a long time, so it can be difficult to remember all of the intricate muscle movements involved when learning those skills for the first time.
However, if your child is struggling with their fine motor skills, it could be a result of an underlying health condition.
It may also just be that they need some extra support, but regardless of the cause, fine motor skills delays can be frustrating for your child.
But in the meantime, read on to find out more about fine motor skills and how your child can navigate them.
What Are Fine Motor Skills?
Small motions made with the muscles in your hands and wrists are considered fine motor skills.
They contrast with gross motor skills, which are the skills that let us do larger movements like running, jumping, and climbing.
As you can imagine, these skills come into play in many everyday activities.
A lot of effort and control goes into the small movements needed to hold a pencil and write, use a keyboard, and use tools like scissors and toothbrushes.
Many school related activities will require fine motor skill control.
What Is A Fine Motor Skills Developmental Delay?
If your child has difficulty controlling their fingers, hands, toes, or even lips, they may have a developmental delay that affects their fine motor skills.
You may notice your child having trouble with hand eye coordination.
Difficulty speaking, because of the specific mouth movements required, can also be a sign of a fine motor skills developmental delay.
If your child is a toddler, you may notice they are clumsy and seem to have “butter fingers” or seem to grab things with their full palm and not their fingers.
As they get older they might avoid activities where their fine motor skills would be needed, like eating with utensils or drawing.
What Causes Fine Motor Skills Delay?
Fine motor skill delays don’t have just one possible cause.
Cognitive, developmental, or physical conditions can be signified by fine motor skills delays.
If your child was born premature they may be more likely to have a fine motor skills delay.
Here we’ll talk more about the conditions that may coincide with a fine motor skills delay.
Hypotonia, also known as “floppy baby syndrome”, is a condition where your baby has low muscle tone.
This leads to their limbs often being limp and difficulty keeping their knees and elbows bent.
If your child has hypotonia, it often leads to delays in fine motor skills development.
2.Developmental Coordination Disorder
Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) is a neurological disorder characterized by having difficulty processing and executing motor tasks.
Also known as dyspraxia, if your child has DCD they may have trouble with anything from drinking out of a cup to navigating the playground.
DCD affects the way your child’s brain processes their motor information and coordinates their motor skills.
Many children who have DCD also have ADHD.
If your child has ADHD they may have trouble controlling their impulses and holding their attention on certain tasks.
If they are exhibiting poor balance, irregular posture, or perception problems, that may be a sign they’re having a fine motor skills difficulty along with their ADHD.
4. Learning Disabilities
Children with learning disabilities often have normal or above normal intelligence, and just have a block when it comes to certain kinds of learning.
While many learning disabilities relate to verbal skills, nonverbal learning disabilities can involve trouble with spatial awareness or motor skills.
They may have trouble with the sequence of motor planning or struggle to hold a book, illustrating an issue with fine motor skills development.
5. Other Causes
There are other conditions that can cause motor skills delays, including cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy.
Vision problems can also be linked to issues with fine motor skills delays.
However, sometimes causes for these delays are idiopathic – that means there’s no noticeable reason for their developmental delay.
In these cases, your child may just need some extra support to make sure they’re keeping up with their expected pediatric occupational therapy developmental milestones.
How Can A Pediatric Occupational Therapist Help?
Your child’s occupational therapist will focus on helping your child by addressing their fine motor skills in their daily routine.
They’ll focus on independence, but also on making practice fun by giving them a variety of activities to try.
Because children tend to have less patience for activities that aren’t fun than adults, most pediatric occupational therapy approaches will look a lot like play time from your perspective.
Play dough and silly putty can be a great tactile toy, and getting your child to twist it into certain shapes will help them develop their fine motor strength at the same time.
Transferring water from one container to another can be entertaining, educational, and will allow your child to really concentrate on their hand’s movements.
If your child has been dealing with fine motor skills developmental delays for a while, it may have affected their social skills, so your child’s occupational therapist may focus on building those skills up as well.
Here are some of the areas your child’s occupational therapist can address to improve fine motor skills:
- Visual motor integration
- Visual perception
- Self care skills
Like with many disorders, early intervention if your child has a developmental delay is key.
The sooner your child receives treatment, the sooner they’ll be able to catch up with their peers and avoid establishing bad habits.
Book Your Appointment With Little Feet Pediatric Therapy Today
If your child isn’t hitting their fine motor skills developmental milestones, we’re here to help.
With the ideas above and many more we can help make sure your child confidently navigates their environment.
► 3535 Randolph Rd, Charlotte, NC 28211
► 1331 H St NW Ste 200, Washington, DC 20005
► St. Louis, MO
► Raleigh, NC
Founded in 2019, Little Feet Therapy offers on site pediatric physical and occupational therapy treatments for children from 2 months to 18 years old with physical and developmental concerns. Our clinics focus on providing therapy in a child’s natural setting where your child is in familiar surroundings, it puts their mind at ease and helps them focus more on the work they’re doing with their pediatric therapist. Our therapists will work with your child at your home, at school, at daycare, or another place in the community where they feel most comfortable.