How Occupational Therapy Supports Fine Motor Development

 From playing the piano to cutting an apple, we rely on fine motor skills for both the fun and functional parts of life!

We start to develop these skills as we move through the early years. We go from just about holding blocks to stringing beads and on to cutting and coloring neatly. But about 5% of people have developmental coordination disorder (DCD).

For them, motor skills will always be a challenge, but they can improve with occupational therapy. In fact, occupational therapists can help all children with their fine motor development.

Let’s take a look at how that works.

What Are Fine Motor Skills?

Fine motor skills involve coordinating the movement of the small muscles of the body. It centers around all the amazing things that we can do with our hands. They allow us to do incredibly intricate things like sewing, painting, and using chopsticks.

But we need them for lots of everyday functions. This includes turning knobs, pouring a drink, and brushing our teeth. There are fine motor development milestones that children are expected to reach by certain ages:

  • 18 months – clapping and waving goodbye
  • Age 2 – point and turn pages in a book
  • Age 5 – catch a small ball using their hands only

While these are only a guide, they can help you know if support is needed.

When Should I Seek the Help of an OT?

It’s important to recognize that not all children develop at the same rate. But an occupational therapist can help your child to develop those key fine motor skills that he or she will need throughout their life.

If you or your child’s teacher notices the following, occupational therapy could help:

  • Awkward pencil grasp
  • Getting very tired after short periods of writing or drawing
  • Difficulty with precision when using scissors

You may also find that they have problems with dressing, such as using buttons. These could all be signs that they could benefit from extra support.

How Can Occupational Therapy Help?

Occupational therapists help children to develop their hand use through fine motor activities.

They’ll begin with an assessment. This will help them to identify the specific issues your child has and what is causing them. They can use this to build a plan.

Some of these activities will be done during the session and some can be done at home during quiet time. The focus is on developing functional skills such as using scissors, handwriting, dressing, and tying shoes. But because this is done through super-fun activities, your child won’t even realize they’re learning at the same time.

Depending on their age, activities could include:

  • Making playdough snakes
  • Stringing macaroni on yarn
  • Playing card games
  • Playing tic tac toe with small objects

Your child may receive occupational therapy at school. Or you could choose to schedule an intensive block of one-to-one sessions during their vacations. Weekend sessions may also be available.

Read more about this to find out how occupational therapy services can help.

Support Your Child’s Fine Motor Development

It’s easy to take fine motor development for granted, but lots of kids need some extra support. Small motor tasks set by skilled occupational therapists can make a real difference. They can give your child the confidence to try new things and succeed.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, we’ve got lots more for you. Head over to our Health section for more great hints and tips today!

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