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Understanding Fine Motor Skills

The use of smaller muscles such as those in hands and fingers to do activities is 'Fine motor skills'.

These motor skills help us perform tasks such as holding a pen or pencil, using scissors, buttoning up, opening a lock, opening boxes. Our ability to use the small muscles in synchronization with our eyes affects the quality of these activities.

It is important to learn these skills as they affect our everyday life to a large extent and help us perform tasks independently. Fine motor skills are vital in our academic, social and professional life.

Some children and adults may have difficulty when it comes to learning fine motor skills. This could happen due to various reasons such as injury, illness, stroke, congenital deformities, cerebral palsy, developmental disabilities.

"Fine motor skills is the ability to use small muscles in hands with coordination and manipulate objects of different sizes and shapes. These skills are a part of our everyday life. To develop fine motor skills various activities are carried out by occupational therapists such as clay activity, painting, water paly, pebble sorting and many more, says Dr Rashmi Patanwadia, Occupational Therapist, Government SSG Hospital, Baroda.


Standardized and non-standardized tests are used to assess fine motor skills in children and adults such as Purdue Pegboard Test, Visual-motor integration assessment, Box and Blocks Test, Strength-Dexterity Test.


A child with fine motor skills challenges will display some of the following signs.

- Avoiding activities that involve fine motor skills such as writing, building things, cutting, drawing.

- More interested in physical activities and avoiding tasks that require to sit down.

- Depending on parents or others to dress up.

- Asking others to fix a problem instead of trying themselves.


Children with fine motor skills challenges may have a low self-esteem and feel angry and frustrated. With professional help and practice, they can be helped overtime in performing basic tasks independently.

Occupational therapy, self-practice can help learn fine motor skills. The therapy techniques may vary depending on the age, symptoms and condition of a person.

Fine motor skills are ability to make small movements of hand in a coordinated and specific manner for a particular activity. When it comes to children, they use crayons, erasers, pick up small items, open pencil boxes, bags. Nowadays Parents and some educators expect Kids to begin writing as soon as possible. They are not taking into consideration that specific hand skill develops at specific age. To force a child to learn advanced skills before time is to pressuring him into doing something which he is not ready for. Occupational Therapists are perfect solutions for kids who have poor fine motor skills. They also help suggest age appropriate and skill appropriate toys to help the child develop proper skills. -Dr Dhara Desai, Occupational Therapist, Prayatna Early Intervention Program.

Parents need to understand the child's conditions and patiently help them learn the ability to use their hands, fingers and eyes for simple tasks. Children may feel left out and lose confidence, through encouragement, affection they can be motivated to learn fine motor skills.

Some simple activities that can be practiced include play dough activities, drawing, cutting paper, pasting, playing with Lego or building blocks.

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