Fine motor skills refer to the ability of the small muscle groups of the arms (wrist and hands) to coordinate movements and use and sustain force to interact with the environment, objects and with each other to accomplish an endless list of tasks requiring precise movements.
There are certain developmental prerequisites that must be reached before and during acquisition and refinement of fine motor skills.
- Interest and motivation in objects
- desire to attain them
- desire to explore their relationship to other objects (cause and effect)
- Haptic development - Haptic refers to the sense of touch
using the sense of touch to learn about an object and manipulate it with your hand
ie, looking for keys in your purse by feeling for it
- Visual-perceptual development - the ability to recognize orientation, distance, and characteristics of an object using vision
- Motor development
- Muscle development begins at the core
- Core must be able to stabilize
- When the core is stabilized, it allows for use of hands
- Forearm supination - rotating hand to palm side up
- Thumb opposition - being able to bring the thumbs to the fingertips
Without these prerequisites, many children develop delays in fine motor skills as they cannot adequately practice the use of their hands. For example, a child without stability in sitting, will have substantial difficulty working to achieve skills with their fingers. Thus, loss of interest occurs and skills acquisition is not attained.
If you suspect your child has delays in any areas, it is best to bring them up with a pediatrician. Occupational therapists work with children and families to address and prevent delays in fine motor skills by analyzing abilities; grading and adapting tasks; and remediating deficits.