The primary cause of fine motor control problems is a lack of or overabundance in muscle mass. A child having high muscle tone may make mistakes based on the over-activation of muscles, resulting in activities being sloppy or even clumsy in nature. A child having low muscle tone is quite common; a child with low muscle tone may struggle to maintain even the smallest control of a pencil or even scissors. Small feats like finger movement may prove to be an extreme effort for a child with low muscle tone.
It can be said that genetic and environmental factors can lead to fine motor skill problems. While pregnant, a mother exposed to alcohol and drugs can be a big factor in the development of a baby. Alcohol can directly affect the neurons in the brain. If a baby is born prematurely the connection of the neurons in the brain may be disturbed. The more premature a baby is the risk for this problem rises. Disturbing the connection of neurons can lead to difficulties with attention span and/or self-control in fine motor skill development. Even smoking has been known to have negative effects on motor skills.
Treatment with a pediatric occupational therapist can greatly improve a child’s fine motor skills with the right therapy geared to successful treatment of fine motor problems. The pediatric occupational therapist may try two approaches to the treatment of your child. The first is a relatively general approach dealing with the assessment of their sensory development. How a child moves and reacts to stimuli. Finding that underlying factor helps them form a second approach designed specifically for fine-tuning the way they perform more complex tasks using fine motor skills. Teaching them how to accomplish and fine-tune their skills can greatly improve motor function.
Being that no one method is successful for all patients a Pediatric Occupational Therapist may also treat a child in these areas:
- Their finger strength, hand strength, hand position and stability
- Overall pencil grip and control
- Control of the wrist and forearm
- Finger movement
- The spatial organization of space and letter formation
- Speed and dexterity
- The isolated movement required for tweezers and scissors
It is necessary for parents to take an active role in their child’s treatment for the continuation of improvement outside of the pediatric occupational therapists’ office.
For at home improvement of fine motor skills the occupational therapist may suggest activities like drawing (sample activity), coloring and paper cutting art involving cutting out paper chains and making paper snowflakes. Drawing can improve how neatly the child can draw lines and shapes, improving the overall appearance of letters and shapes altogether; paired with coloring this helps the eyes determine where to stop by staying within the lines in shapes and forms. Tracking movement is one of the key factors in fine motor skills. There are also toys and games available that are geared for the improvement of fine motor skills.
Developing and improving fine motor skills can take a lot of time but with the proper guidance from a pediatric occupational therapist, you can make all the difference in the way your child learns and perceives life in general. Children with fine motor skill problems can suffer greatly in school and even social situations. Therefore it is important to identify any fine motor control issues and begin an occupation therapy program to help them develop these skills as quickly as possible.