Monday, June 13, 2011

Helping Kids with Autism Develop Fine-Motor Skills

The following information was taken from K-6 Linkages
Fine motor development contributes to the development of communication skills in young children.

What are fine motor skills?

Fine motor skills are those skills which require a child to manipulate and gain control over a range of materials and tools. These are often for communication purposes both functional and expressive, eg writing a name or message, manipulating a computer mouse, creating a sculpture. Opportunities to develop these skills exist in all six key learning areas of the primary curriculum.

The components of fine motor skills can be considered to be:
Grasping -eg using a crayon, pencil, brush, glue stick, beater, blocks
Crayola 8ct Write Start Colored PencilsMelissa & Doug Jumbo Paint Brushes (set of 4)Crayola 8-Pack Crayons - Jumbo (So Big) Size (Single Box)

Manipulating - eg playdough, clay, unifix, centicubes, paper, sewing, scissors, fingerplays

Alex Toys My First Sewing Kit12 PC Animal Finger PuppetsNon-toxic Natural Mary's Softdough Rainbow Tub with Purple, Blue, Green, Yellow and Red - Natural Alternative to Playdough - 1.2 lbs

Hand-eye co-ordination - eg writing, cutting, threading, moving a cursor, using a glue gun

Melissa & Doug Child-Safe Scissor SetMelissa & Doug Primary Lacing BeadsLearning Resources Plastic Lacing Beads, Set Of 48
Structured learning experiences such as developmental play and learning centres are opportunities for teachers to provide a range of activities which will help develop the fine motor skills of children. These will often include materials such as playdough, clothes pegs, sorting, Lego, construction toys, bottles and lids, paper, pens, paints and other media, computer-based technology.

LEGO Duplo Basic BricksLEGO Ultimate Building Set - 405 Pieces (6166)Wooden Dolly Clothes Pegs (pack of 20)

The following information was taken from Bright Hub

Helping Develop Fine Motor Skills in Children with Autism
Helping kids with autism develop fine-motor skills involves adapting the environment and activities to address sensory motor and learning needs.

Promoting Attention to Tasks

Young children on the autism spectrum often have difficulty developing the fine-motor skills that lead to eye-hand coordination, visual discrimination and eventually reading and writing. Distractability and a preference to seek out movement and other sensory experiences often impact a child’s ability to sit and learn basic skills such as fitting shapes through openings and placing pegs inside holes. Preschool teachers and therapists can create environments and adapt activities to help children develop these critical skills.

Helping kids with autism develop fine-motor skills begins with creating a work environment as distraction-free as possible. A child may benefit from wearing head phones to block out sounds.

Peltor 90553 Kid's Earmuff, PinkPeltor Junior Earmuff, Blue #97023

Seat the child facing a wall or partition with little visual clutter and nothing to touch except the activity you are teaching. Experiment with different types of seat cushions or sitting on a therapy ball with legs (so that it won’t roll).

Abilitations Chair Ball with Six Legs 65cm (25-1/2"), GreenFun and Function's Dynamic Seating Cushion - 15 inchesAbilitations CoreDisk Inflatable Bean Filled Balance Cushion - Yellow

These enable the child to have some movement while seated. The child might also benefit from working in alternative positions such as reclining in a bean bag, sitting in a rocking chair or kneeling at the table.

8 Cubic Foot Blue Bean BagBean Bag ChairNickelodeon Rocking Chair, Dora

Keep the training sessions short and frequent, ending with a sensory reinforcement such as time on a trampoline or use of squeeze balls. Addressing the child’s sensory needs through seating, activities and reinforcements will promote focus and motivation.

 Alex Little Jumpers TrampolineAKU RING (Includes 1 Individual Ring - Color May Vary)DESK BUDDY SENSORY BAR

Adapt Activities with Sensory Components
Adapt fine-motor activities by adding a sensory component such as sound, bright lights or vibration. Some commercially available toys such as ring stacks and form boards play music or flash lights upon completion.

Fiber Optic ConeVibrator MittVibrating SnakeAbilitations Special Needs OctoPad Weighted Tactile Pad with Vibration - 2lbs - 13 x 24 InchesVibration may be added to containers or tubes used for ring stacks by placing the handle from an electric toothbrush or a vibrating pen (with the point removed) inside.

After a child has learned how to insert objects inside containers, increase the challenge by providing blocks to fit through a square opening or Lotto cards that fit through a rectangular opening in a coffee can lid. Again, place the vibrating device inside the container to motivate the child. Unlike commercial shape sorters, these enable the child to practice fitting one simple shape in an opening before attempting to match complex shapes to several openings.

Pig goes Pop Goliath Kids Belly Busting Fun Game HasbroLucky Sock Dip Card GameWonderworld Eco-Friendly Posting House Shape SorterLittle Tikes Buzz About Mailbox

Simplify Activities
Children with autism often have difficulty with motor planning or the ability to plan and execute new motor skills. Simple adaptations such as using larger materials can increase success. For example, a homemade lacing board with only 3-4 large holes will be easier than the boards sold with several smaller holes.

Melissa & Doug Lace and Trace PetsChildren Of The World Lacing CardsEeboo More Things that Go Lacing CardsMelissa & Doug Deluxe Wood Lacing SneakerStacking small boxes that are weighted with sand inside are easier to coordinate than small blocks. This use of heavier materials increases body awareness and the sand makes an interesting sound.

Fisher-Price Bright Beginnings Stacking Action BlocksSand BlocksPlan Toy Water Blocks
 An adapted pegboard can be made using small plastic bottles filled with water that fit inside holes in a cardboard box. Add glitter to make the water sparkle.  The natural reinforcement upon task completion is playing with the bottles.

 Color Pegs, Color PicturesLauri Toys Giant PegboardTall - Stacker Pegs A - Z Pegboard Set (Uppercase)
Whether fine-motor activities are purchased or homemade- parents and educators should consider adaptations that simplify and/or add a sensory component. Then they can gradually add challenges such as smaller pegs or more complex shapes to fit inside a shape sorter.

Lauri Toys Number Puzzle Boards and PegsMegcos Mosaic Board With 160 Round Pegs -Affordable Gift for your Little One! Item #LMID-1021Tall Stacker Pegs Building SetPlan Toys Creative Peg Board
Once the child experiences success, he or she may be motivated to try other fine-motor activities. The key is to have fun. So, remember when helping kids with autism develop fine-motor skills- that if YOU find the activity to be enjoyable, chances are good that the child will too.

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  1. Hi Sarah!
    I'll be giving a shout out on Twitter today to help parents find your wonderful blog!

    Thanks for hopping by. I'm your newest FAN and Follower!


  2. Hi! Sarah! Thanks for stopping by my blog and following! I am following you back! Looks like you have lots of great information on here!


  3. now following you thanks for stopping by great work you do here.