Improving fine motor skills to help with handwriting is one of those therapy subjects in our home school. What is a therapy subject? A therapy that goes into the planner to be done on a consistent basis to help with other subjects. Because we home school we don’t get the luxury of in school therapies like OT , PT, or speech. Our insurance only covers a certain amount of therapy. Don’t get me started on how ludicrous either scenario is for our kids.
Handwriting is usually super hard for children with autism. One reason is the executive function disorder . That is how your get your thoughts from your head on to the paper. Another reason is work needs to be done on fine motor skills as well as hand strength. You can’t have good handwriting if you have weak hands . Good handwriting is an important skill that will be used in adulthood unlike algebra (which is my nemesis). You have to write an essay on the SAT if you are college bound. You have to fill out job applications. You need to be able to write notes to people. You need to be able to sign your name. The list goes on and on.
I asked the question on my Facebook page & got an amazing response. I left in the ideas for younger kids too in case you are working at that developmental level. Don’t know their level yet? Stop here and check out yesterday’s post for tips on how to find that out.
Do you know anyone who owns a die cut machine? If so have them cut shapes either with card stock or laminate it so that it is heavier and he can trace around to learn the general idea. Then you can check out art books or use you tube to find ideas of things to draw. If you check out books lay a piece of printer paper over the top of the photo he wants to trace.
My son’s ot explained it as his hand was too weak to draw so he got tired. Play with playdough, have him open and close clothespins. Get some clamps and have him open and close them. Anything to build up the hand muscle.
I would start with pre-writing strokes. You can print one out, laminate it and let him use dry erase markers or crayons to trace them. Lacing cards are great too!
We did many hand strengthening exercises. We also took an old egg carton, placed very tiny items (piece of yarn, tiny Lego, etc), one item in each spot, then used Jumbo Tweezers for him to squeeze the big tweezers to grasp tiny item and move from egg crate and back again. For some reason, that was a favorite activity for him. Then for learning to write, we found Handwriting Without Tears to work best! I think it might’ve been the chalkboard practice that did it. My husband also started making comic books with him. They simply folded plain pieces of copy paper in half together and stapled like a book. Then they just used the freedom of no lines to create an easy to draw creature and make stories out of it. It was genius and now we have several hundreds of “newbie” comics. His behavioral therapist has several copies hanging in his office for other kids to read. I think that idea and freedom of imagination is what helped the most.
Another activity is a little weird, but fun. Tape a piece of paper (suggest painter’s tape) on the underside of a dining room chair. Then draw or color the picture while laying on your back under the chair. This really develops muscles quickly. Do it with your child so you can see just how difficult it is. Short sessions are best.
Play dough, scissor crafts, lauri puzzles, and coloring a half page a day worked well for us
Manipulating putty,clay, play-doh, using pegs or toothpicks to make designs in play doh, cutting play doh with scissors or pizza wheel, tearing newspaper or paper into strips and crumpling into balls, using spray bottles/water guns, picking up objects using tongs or tweezers, using small screw drivers, coloring or drawing with short crayons or pencils to encourage use of fingers versus entire hand/arm, lacing and sewing activities, eye droppers, flipping cards/coins/checkers/buttons, use of stickers (peeling), stretching rubber bands placed around thumb and fingers, pop beads, legos, practicing button/zipping/tying/lacing, popping packaging bubbles,wind up toys, open/close ziploc bags, stringing beads, tissue paper crafts where the child has to crumple up small pieces.
All easy ideas that can be done in a fun way sometime during school time. Check out my Autism Wish List on Amazon to see more items that can be used for fine motor practice. Also, hop over to Pinterest to follow my Autism Fine Motor board for more ideas!