What are Poor Fine Motor Skills? What are the symptoms and treatments of Poor Fine Motor Skills? And how can AC Cares assist a family in dealing with the symptoms of Poor Fine Motor Skills?

Fine motor skills are defined as the ability to make movements using the small muscles in the hands and wrists. These skills are essential to many of the tasks we do daily. These small movements are inherent and natural for most people, so much so that one doesn’t need to think about them, but nevertheless, they are complex. Fine motor skills rely on coordination between the brain and muscles. Examples of tasks that require fine motor skills include: holding a pen or pencil, drawing or writing neatly, using a keyboard, using scissors, or other tools. Essential daily tasks like brushing teeth or getting dressed also require fine motor skills.

Early signs of fine motor skill delays:

  • Lack of interest in grasping objects
  • Difficulty sitting up
  • Difficulty raising head
  • Inability or difficulty to stand
  • Inability of difficulty to crawl
  • Delay or difficulty walking

These symptoms can present themselves from preschool on:

  • Difficulty throwing a ball or playing sports
  • Difficulty drawing or even holding a writing tool
  • Difficulty with buttons and zippers
  • Poor handwriting
  • Clumsiness

These differ from poor gross motor skills, which are abilities to do tasks that involve the large muscles in the torso, legs, and arms, as well as whole-body movements.

A child should see a motor skills specialist if one or more of these symptoms are present. The Beery-Buktenica test is a common test administered to children suspected to suffer from poor fine motor skills. This test is used to detect problems with fine motor skills, visual perception, and hand-eye coordination. The Lincoln-Oseretsky Motor Development scale is also used to assess the development of fine motor skills.

In infancy, fine motor skills begin to develop. They improve and grow more complex as children develop. While children don’t all develop at the same pace, there are milestones they usually reach at certain ages. Individuals can have or develop problems with fine motor skills at any age and for a number of reasons.

What causes poor fine motor skills?

Sometimes children reach their fine motor milestones later than expected and there is no underlying problem. Medical causes of fine motor delay include delay in muscle development or coordination problems (dyspraxia.) The cause of fine motor problems is not always clear. Factors researchers found to be potentially linked to poor fine motor skills include premature birth, genetic disorders such as Down syndrome, neuromuscular disorders such as muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy, development disorders such as autism or pervasive development disorder, decreased finger, arm, and core strength, cognitive delays, and vision problems.


If you’re concerned about your child’s development, schedule a visit with their pediatrician. Based on their assessment, they can direct you to a specialist for further evaluation. They will likely suggest appropriate therapy. Children with poor fine motor skills will typically see a pediatric occupational or physiotherapist. Early diagnosis and treatment increase the likelihood of successful outcomes.

Some fine motor delays may resolve on their own. It is possible a child might simply do the activity later than their peers. If this is not the case, continual occupational therapy can help the child to hone these skills. Treatment plans will depend on the cause of the delay. With appropriate treatment, children will learn and practice skills that will help them thrive.

After being paired with a therapist, an initial assessment will take place. To ensure the evaluation is holistic, it will include a number of components. These include an interview with caregivers, a detailed history, developmental information, physical assessment and observations of the child, a comprehensive report of the information gathered, and goal-setting based on the report. The role of the therapist is to help the child reach developmental milestones that require fine motor skills. Most therapy for poor fine motor skills occurs from birth to age three but it may extend beyond that as needed.

After the initial evaluation, the occupational therapist will plan activities for sessions that help to improve fine motor skills. Activities might include: grasping and releasing toys, improving hand-eye coordination, handwriting skills, learning how to bathe, dress, and feed themselves, working on strengthening the hands, wrists, and fingers, developing appropriate pencil grapes, and improving body awareness and hand control through games. Therapists empower children to master poor fine motor skills through practice and confidence. If required, they may consider adaptive devices or modifications.

What can parents do to help?

Children develop skills at their own pace but parents should remain cognizant of their child’s development and look out for delays. Parents should ask their child’s therapists about the best ways to support their development at home. Therapists will likely give recommendations to parents for particular games or activities to work on at home to speed up the process of achieving certain skills. Providing opportunities for suitable fine motor activities, giving your child toys to help improve grasping and gripping skills, encouraging children to be active participants in daily activities such as dressing, bathing, or brushing teeth, and informing oneself about the condition and possible solutions are great ways to play an active role in supporting a child with poor fine motor skills.

How can we help?

At AC Cares, we can assist the family in dealing with Poor Fine Motor Skills in many ways. These would include:

Whether you are searching for a qualified doctor, treatment options, or a nutritionist, we have vetted, knowledgeable medical professionals to assist you on your journey.
Dealing with Poor Fine Motor Skills can be overwhelming and confusing for families, and we have the latest information on everything from new treatment options to medical trials to help our families in need.
Meeting with others facing similar challenges can provide a lifeline to those who feel alone, and our support groups and moderators are there to walk with you on this journey.
Group seminars and workshops on topics ranging from getting the support needed for your child at school to safety measures in the home provide instruction to prepare you for your role as advocate and caregiver.