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Fine motor and handwriting

Rogers Bridge » Fine Motor and Handwriting

How will deficits in
fine motor skills impact my child?

Fine motor skills refer to the ability to coordinate movements of small muscles in hands, wrists, fingers, lips, tongue, feet, and toes. These deficits may be due to weakness of the muscles, delays in hand eye coordination, or difficulty with nerve and muscle control. While fine motor delays are common in children with diagnoses like cerebral palsy, autism, down syndrome, and ADHD, children without diagnoses can have delays in fine motor as well.

Deficits in fine motor skills impact everyday activities like handwriting, grasping small objects, tying shoes, buttoning clothing, brushing teeth, using zippers, chewing food, or even puckering your lips to blow a kiss.

"I am especially thankful for Cristina's patience and experience with pediatric clients. My daughter progressed tremendously under her care." — Shacresa

Kid Painting

When should fine motor delays be addressed?

The earlier, the better! Targeting delays, in any area of development, should be done early. A child is expected to use more fine motor skills as they grow. Waiting to receive intervention places the child at risk for becoming further and further behind. Research shows that it takes four times as long to intervene in fourth grade as it does in late kindergarten.

Fine motor development starts at birth. Infants will tightly hold objects placed in their hands which leads to them reaching for objects to hold, pulling at clothes, bringing toys to their mouth to explore, using coordinated reaching, shaking toys, bringing hands to midline, and picking up small objects. Fine motor skills become more complex as your child gets older. A large portion of each school day requires a child to use fine motor skills and continues to require more fine motor skills as the child ages. It is common to see children having difficulty at school and being reluctant to participate in activities that require fine motor skills.

While there are many signs of fine motor delays, here are our top signs of possible fine motor delays:

  1. Difficulty tying shoes

  2. Unable to button/zip clothes

  3. Unable to grasp crayons/pencils/utensils correctly

  4. Poor, messy, or laborious handwriting and drawing

  5. Unable to manipulate small objects 

  6. Difficulty cutting


Does your child demonstrate any of these signs?
We're happy to provide more insights. Reach out to us to learn more.


We would love to talk with you about how fine motor delays may be impacting your child. Our occupational therapists can help children improve their sensory processing. Call or email/contact us to discuss your child and how occupational therapy could benefit them.

The first step is an easy conversation about your child's needs.

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