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Occupational Therapy Games for Autistic Preschoolers

By Lisalyn

Occupational Therapy sessions are important for Autistic preschoolers. The Occupational Therapist will work with a child to develop fine motor skills. You can supplement this therapy at home with fun activities and games. Read on to learn more.

What are fine motor skills?

Fine motor skills begin to develop in infancy. Grasping, clasping, and pinching will gradually become bigger, stronger movements. Fine motor skills include the movements of the small muscles like holding a pencil or fork, zipping zippers, fastening buttons, and stacking blocks. Weak fine motor skills affect a child’s small movements (grip and grasp, for instance), strength, control, and agility.

How this weakness affects Autistic preschoolers

Autism causes weaknesses in many skill areas, including fine motor skills. Autism is a spectrum disorder, therefore children with Autism will each be affected differently. Some Autistic preschoolers may have greater weakness where others have skills near normal levels. A preschooler with weak fine motor skills will have problems meeting expected developmental milestones. Pre-writing skills like coloring and tracing, functional skills needed for everyday life, and even coordination will be hampered by weak fine motor skills.

Fun games and activities that develop fine motor skills

Developing your preschooler’s fine motor skills is as easy as digging through your arts and crafts closet, toy box, and game cabinet.
Here are a few fun activities you can do with your preschooler to develop fine motor skills:
-Get out the Playdoh and have fun! Mash it, squish it, pinch it, roll it, and hide small toys in it.
-Legos or Duplos are always fun. Build tall towers, taking turns placing the blocks. Start with the larger Duplos and as your preschooler gains strength and control, switch to the smaller Lego blocks.
-Work puzzles together. Start with small, wooden puzzles that have pegs on each piece for added practice.
-Print mazes or find mazes in coloring books for your preschooler to trace through.
-Throw in a fun coloring picture for him (and you) to color.
-Go to the game closet and pull out Connect Four or Ants in the Pants. You need good grasp and strength to play both of these games.
-Lacing cards and beads are occupational therapy favorites. Use cards with widely spaced holes and large beads to start.
-Practice cutting with scissors. Trace lines and shapes for your preschooler to cut. Use a wide variety of paper textures and thicknesses.
As you can see, there are many common play activities from which you can choose to improve your preschooler‘s fine motor skills. Choose games and activities that you have at home or that you know your preschooler enjoys. Change things up from day to day and remember to keep each activity short to match your child’s attention span.