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Fine motor is often just defined as Handwriting. I want to take a moment and break down the components of Fine Motor:

  • Strength or Brut Force: This is what we would think of when it come to shaking someone’s hand. How much force or strength is behind the grasp. This is a very short sided aspect of fine motor. Many children can do something one time or quickly with a lot of force but this doesn’t always correlate to strength. For example, graded pressure which is how much force to use on difference objects is a far more useful and measurable skill. In our day to day life we rarely are just grabbing something as hard as we can. Instead we are using graded pressure or force to open a object, grab objects or use utensils.

    • Example of Graded Force: Picking up a plastic cup to take a drink without squeezing it so hard that you crack it.

    • Brut Strength: When a you start to slip or fall going up or down the stairs and grab the railing quickly and as hard as possible out of a fight or flight reaction.

  • Precision: This is the ability to manipulate small object, help with dressing (ADL’s), move objects from the inside of your hand to your fingertips, and pencil grasp. Fine motor precision is what gives us the ability to button/unbutton, follow a paper maze, write our name and put a quarter into a gum ball machine.

    • In Hand Manipulation:

      • Transition​

      • Shift

      • Rotation

    • Pencil Grasps:

      • Gross Grasp​

      • Quadruped Grasp

      • Tripod Grasp

  • Finger Isolation: This is the ability to move fingers separately and independently from one another. This does include basic body awareness of which finger they need to move in isolation from another finger in order to perform a task.

    • Example of Finger Isolation is “Finger Thinking” or the ability to touch each finger to your thumb. Many times, children will use associated movements to help. Finger thinking in a variety of patterns or different orders helps with finger isolation, body awareness, visual memory, visual sequential memory and motor planning.

  • Handwriting: This is the ability to write all upper- and lower-case letters with proper formation, legibility, spacing and comprehension of letters. Many times, when people think about Fine Motor they just to handwriting. This is the functional outcome of proper fine motor development. It is very important to develop Fine motor skills as a child grows and looking at a variety of components.

    • Please be sure to look check out these components:

      • Postural Stability

      • Tactile Processing

      • Visual Memory and Form Constancy

      • Bilateral Coordination                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

The following assessments look at Fine Motor Skills:














Be sure to ask your Occupational Therapist for a comprehensive look at Fine Motor. It is important to look at a child’s whole body when there are handwriting concerns. Many time is can be core stability, visual perceptual, ocular motor skills, attention to task and/or strength/endurance.

Fine Motor Assessments
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