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Friday, February 10, 2012

What Are the Signs of Weak Fine Motor Skills?

Fine motor skills can be defined as small muscle movements: those that occur in the finger, in coordination with the eyes. Learning fine motor skills is similar to learning other skills.

Motor skills are actions that involve the movement of muscles in the body. They are divided into two groups: gross motor skills , which include the larger movements of arms, legs, feet, or the entire body ( crawling , running, and jumping); and fine motor skills, which are smaller actions, such as grasping an object between the thumb and a finger or using the lips and tongue to taste objects. Both types of motor skills usually develop together, because many activities depend on the coordination of gross and fine motor skills.

Development of fine motor skills is important among kids because it will in turn help them to perform better academically and physically in later years. Fine motor skills involve the small muscles of the body that enable such functions as writing, grasping small objects, and fastening clothing.

Fine motor skills involve strength, fine motor control, and dexterity. Some children have great difficulty with fine motor skills. Basic things such as writing, picking up tiny objects or buttoning and zipping clothing can be a great challenge for them. If these skills are not addressed, a child with weak fine motor skills might have difficulty at school.
For some children, their hands do not seem to work together in the way that they should. This may lead to such frustration that they may resist activities that require them to coordinate all of the muscles and joints in their hands and fingers. As a result, they do not get to practise these skills correctly or develop the correct muscles. This in turn may affect the development of higher-level fine motor skills, such as writing. It is often at the stage when formal handwriting instruction has commenced that children are identified as having fine motor weakness.
Resultant commonly seen behaviours showing the signs of weak fine motor skills might include:
  • Outright refusal to participate in an activity
  • avoidance techniques (‘I need to get a drink of water’)
  • anger outbursts (rip up paper/tantrums)
  • sadness (crying)
  • ‘defeatist’ behaviour (‘I’m no good, I can’t do this’).
Further, research suggests that children and adolescents with identified motor coordination weakness are at higher risk of experiencing anxiety and even depression associated with their perceived lack of competence in motor activities. Therefore, it is important for teachers and parents to be aware of the impact that fine motor skill performance, or a child’s perception of their own fine motor performance in relation to their peers, may have on the child’s overall behaviour in the classroom. Working to help children develop the best fine motor skills possible at a young age helps to set the stage for success in school and at home, and more so, contributes to them feeling good about themselves.

Signs of weak fine motor skills:
List of observable behaviors of children with fine-motor difficulties.
  • Difficulty with writing; poor grasp leading to poor form, fluency, and frequent discomfort when writing.
  • Difficulty controlling speed of movements leading to excessive speed and resultant untidy work, or work not being completed due to overly slow movements.
  • Difficulty with precision grip and inaccurate release and therefore problems with games that involve placement of pieces; for example, dominoes.
  • Difficulty with spatial relations leading to difficulties with design and copying.
  • Tearing paper and/or breaking pencils due to force-control difficulties.
  • Difficulty with learning to dress and undress.
  • Preference for outdoor activities.
  • Clumsiness and frustration: spills food; drops objects; breaks objects.
  • Frustration towards and/or resistant behavior to manipulative and graphic tasks.
  • Excessive muscular tension when performing fine-motor tasks.
My next post will be about activities which can help in development of fine motor skills.
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