Students with ASD benefit from exposure to activities that support the development of fine motor skills in the hands and fingers. Developing motor strength and dexterity can lead to the improvement of other cognitive, communication and life skills necessary to achieve independence in their daily lives.
I incorporate Fine Motor skills into my TEACCH Independent Activity Schedules on a daily basis. Here are my 3 favourite aspects of teaching Fine Motor skills.
1. Make it Meaningful
Fine Motor activities make the most sense when they apply to a student's everyday life. Attaching and ripping off velcro pieces will pave the way for communication via Picture Exchange (PECS). Activities like "Nuts n' Bolts" teach students to twist open jars & containers as a Life Skill. Picking up and dropping creates a target for cleaning up own toys or putting items in a garbage can. Using play-doh as both sensory stimulation and to practise for cutting food might gear to some of your students' interests.
Students with ASD learn best through repetitive, assembly-type tasks that are predictable and close-ended (i.e. the students know when they are finished). These skills can be expanded upon to include real-world vocational employment opportunities in the future.
With technology moving towards touch-screen everything, pointing is an important skill used to move students from a give & take PEC system, to a Touch to Talk, to an augmented communication device (i.e. GoTalk, ProLoQuo) using just their fingers!