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Observing Fine-Motor Difficulties in Children

Observable Behaviors

Here is a list of observable behaviors of children with fine-motor difficulties.

  • Difficulty with writing; poor grasp leading to poor form, fluency, and frequent discomfort when writing.
  • Difficulty controlling speed of movements leading to excessive speed and resultant untidy work, or work not being completed due to overly slow movements.
  • Difficulty with precision grip and inaccurate release and therefore problems with games that involve placement of pieces; for example, dominoes.
  • Difficulty with spatial relations leading to difficulties with design and copying.
  • Tearing paper and/or breaking pencils due to force-control difficulties.
  • Difficulty with learning to dress and undress.
  • Preference for outdoor activities.
  • Clumsiness and frustration: spills food; drops objects; breaks objects.
  • Frustration towards and/or resistant behavior to manipulative and graphic tasks.
  • Excessive muscular tension when performing fine-motor tasks.


Excepted from Ready-to-Use Fine Motor Skills & Handwriting Activities for Young Children / Joanne M. Landy and Keith R. Burridge / The Center for Applied Research and Education / 1999

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