When people think of kids with sensory needs, they often think of kids who can’t handle loud noises, can’t stand tags and seams on their clothing, or maybe they think of the child who can’t hold still in class.
While these are classic manifestations of sensory needs, sensory processing affects so much more than we might first imagine.
Did you know that fine motor skills can be greatly influenced by sensory processing?
A big THANK YOU to Everyday Educate for sponsoring this post!
Let’s look at how these struggles might present themselves, what the underlying cause is, and some FUN ways to help your child overcoming these challenges.
Symptoms of Fine Motor Sensory Struggles
Even at a young age, I could tell my son was behind his peers when it came to some of his fine motor skills (not all!). His fingers fumbled and his frustration was fierce. Shoe tying was trying, and a proper pencil grip felt like an impossibility.
Every time I showed him the correct grip, he did fine, but he could never recreate it. I was baffled! (See what we did to work on his pencil grip).
Can’t Cross the Midline
The midline is the vertical center of the body. Kids with sensory needs often have poor “communication” between the hemispheres of their brains and struggle to cross from one side of the body to the other. While this made gross motor skills tough, it even affects fine motor skills. Even in the “simple” task of writing an X he had major hesitation and would often make two Vs (one inverted) instead of being able to make two fluid, crossing slashes / \ . (Here’s a bunch of different games we did to help develop handwriting.)
Don’t Know Their Own Strength
Snapped crayons, broken pencil tips, erasers ripping through paper. Often times, kids with sensory struggles are accidentally too aggressive with their fine motor skills. Finding the proper amount of pressure can be incredibly challenging.
Why It Can Be a Struggle
Fine motor skills depend on body awareness. The sensory systems that play a part in body awareness are the proprioceptive and vestibular systems.
The vestibular system contributes to balance, the body’s sense of movement and the crossing of midline. The input comes from fluid in the inner ear.
The proprioceptive system tells the body how much weight or pressure to exert. It is the primary means of body awareness.
So when my son was struggling to imitate a proper pencil grasp, it was a proprioceptive issue. The body wasn’t receiving the information he needed, so he could only compensate with his visual system (he had to look at his hands to verify if they were doing what he wanted them to do).
When he couldn’t make his Xs and cross the midline, that was a vestibular symptom.
How to Develop Fine Motor Skills
The funny thing about a lot of sensory issues is, that the way to help the brain and body is to do more of the things they struggle with BUT IN A FUN WAY!
So if your child is struggling with fine motor skills because of a sensory issue, do lots of proprioceptive sensory activities (including gross motor work), midline crossing activities, and fine motor tasks that are so engaging, kids can’t help but have fun!
My boys LOVE to build with little plastic bricks and Everyday Educate has come up with a fun twist that will have everyone belly laughing. Their Building Brick Glasses are loads of creative fun that will have your kids working on those fine motor skills, getting proprioceptive input in their fingers and giving them an opportunity for opened imaginative play!
These glasses come with lots of building bricks and lots of places to anchor the bricks on the glasses. My boys really enjoyed making their own unique creations. I love that they can make something new each and every time. It’s a toy that will get a lot of use and it has a lot of sensory benefits!
He loved the ninja swords!
Check out that propeller over the nose piece!
Such a clever idea from Everyday Educate! My boys love them!
FAQ: YES! These glasses accommodate other popular brands of building bricks.