Motor skills for children with ASD

Both fine motor and gross motor skills continue to develop through the primary years of schooling. At this time children are exposed to many new experiences through the creative arts and sports programs. Children’s development will vary during this time and typically you will see your child refine their fine motor skills, demonstrated by their ability to move from large piece puzzles and construction pieces to smaller ones. Their handwriting and drawings will become smaller and more precise. Gross motor  development will be evident as confidence grows and exposure to a variety of experiences will see your child acquire an increased ability to move his/her body in space and manage a greater range of aerobic experiences.


While your child with ASD has to exert a lot more processing skill ability into managing these requirements they will, over time and given opportunities to practice, learn the skills required.

Fine Motor Skills

Development of fine motor skills are important to successfully access the primary curriculum. To assist your child to develop these skills the following are some practical skills to help your child leading up to and during the primary school years.

Assist your child to use their fingers and hands for precise activities:

  • Practice using scissors- cut in straight lines, along curves and into corners
  • Hold pencil between finger and thumb(pincer grip) for writing and drawing
  • Provide drawing opportunities to develop freehand skills while copying from a book, expose to colouring and encourage staying inside the lines
  • Typing using a keyboard via various technology devices
  • Tie shoelaces/ribbons for bows and knots, button and unbutton clothing

Gross Motor Skills

Development of gross motor skills involves the larger and stronger muscle groups that enable your child to manage the larger muscle and skeletal systems of the body.  For your child with ASD encourage the following to develop confidence and coordination.

Assist your child to develop greater independence;

  • Walking upstairs alternating feet, hopping on one foot
  • Squatting and bending to pick up objects
  • Climbing on and off high playground equipment safely and independently
  • Running with a smooth stride showing change in direction and speed
  • Throwing, catching and kicking balls of different sizes and shapes

The focus on the development of motor skills will help your child with ASD to move safely within the varied environments they will encounter while at school. Some children will experience greater difficulty in this area due to having an associated learning disability such as an Intellectual Disability(ID) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD) and will require further supports to master these skills. Fine motor skill development will assist with all school activities such as writing, use of technology and creative activities. Gross motor skill development will support your child’s development to independently navigate around the school environment and to access the broader curriculum such as health and physical education and camps programs.

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