Helping Kids on the Autism Spectrum with Motor-Planning Difficulties

“Would you have any tips to help my little girl (age 5) with Asperger’s (high functioning) to be more coordinated with her hands? She has a lot of problems with rather simple tasks like tying shoes, writing, and zipping up her jacket.”

Kids with Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism often struggle to learn - and remember - new motor skills. Those who have motor-planning difficulties often benefit from “hand-over-hand” teaching techniques (i.e., the parent holds the child's hand and guides it to approximate the movement required to complete the task). They learn best when they can feel the movements involved. The hand-over-hand technique can be used to teach numerous tasks requiring eye-hand coordination, such as how to draw, cut with scissors, tie shoe laces, and spread peanut butter with a knife.

Kids who can tolerate hand-over-hand physical contact can be taught how to perform certain tasks as the parent places her hand around the youngster’s fingers to perform the required movements (e.g., buttoning shirts, moving a crayon, etc.). Kids who have an aversion to being touched (i.e., tactile defensiveness) often benefit from “touch desensitization” first by having their hands rubbed with lotion or a soft cloth.

Children can also learn motor skills using adapted equipment (e.g., “dual-control scissors” have four holes that enable both the parent and youngster to grasp scissors together, thus enabling the youngster to experience the needed motions without actually being touched).

The hand-over-hand technique is a simple procedure that often yields quick results and helps the child to correctly perform tasks that require fine-motor skills, for example:
  • coloring within the lines
  • completing jigsaw puzzles
  • copying lines, circles and crosses
  • cutting skills  
  • drawing basic figures 
  • fastening buttons
  • playing instruments
  • playing video games
  • pushing buttons
  • scribbling in a closed-fist grip
  • stringing large beads
  • taking the pencil between thumb and index finger and resting on the middle finger
  • tracing diamonds or triangles
  • turning dials
  • tying shoelaces 
  • typing on a computer keyboard
  • using silverware
  • zipping and snapping clothing

More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

==> Parenting System that Reduces Problematic Behavior in Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

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