Motor Skills and Autism


Sensory processing problems are well recognised in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with research estimating prevalence rates of between 45 – 96 %.   This has led to sensory difficulties being included as a diagnostic feature in DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition).  The focus being on how children react to sensory input, such as being over responsive to certain types of sensory input, for example noise or touch.  Or being under responsive to sensory input, for example movement.  Many people are now aware of these difficulties and the impact upon behaviour at home and school.

Motor coordination and motor planning problems are however less well recognised. Children with ASD show significant difficulties with motor skills which impact upon behaviour, social and communication skills, and emotional well-being.  These difficulties are often not considered or addressed in children with ASD.  It is important that people working with children with ASD are able to recognise these motor coordination and motor planning problems and realise the impact that they will have upon the child.  See our course below to equip you to do this.


joeJoe attends a mainstream primary school.  He has a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome.  He finds it difficult to write neatly and uses excessive force on the pencil. He can’t write for long before his hand gets tired.  He has problems copying and imitating movements such as in a PE lesson.  He has poor balance skills.  He doesn’t join in games at play time because he doesn’t have the motor coordination skills needed.  He asks staff to let him stay inside rather than going out to play.  He tends to find an excuse to opt out of physical activities at school and at home.   He is unable to ride a bike.  His confidence and self-esteem are low.


sarahSarah has a diagnosis of ASD.  She attends a local special school.  She has a ‘tantrum’ when she is asked to put on her coat at playtime independently.  Not because she doesn’t like the feel of her coat, but because she lacks the motor skills to put on her coat.  She refuses to participate in many craft activities, swiping the paper and paints off the table.  She is not able to use a paintbrush effectively so becomes very frustrated.  She has a threading activity in her work tray, but often refuses to do the task or has a ‘meltdown’ if she tries to complete.  She engages in very repetitive play as she does not have the ideas or skills to play with objects, so spends large amounts of her free time flapping an object.


Motor Programmes

An easy to use complete motor programme package for small groups and individuals.  The emphasis being on improving motor skills through fun, sensory motor activities.  Each package contains 6 graded sessions, certificates and reward stickers. There are three levels: beginner, intermediate and advanced.  Children find the activities very motivating.  This is definitely not a boring, repetitive, set exercise programme.  Available to purchase by staff who have attended ‘Setting Up Motor Programmes In Schools’ .


Fizzy Programme Leaflets

fizzy-training-resourcesFizzy programme Leaflets

These are free downloadable graded motor activity programmes working on balance, ball skills and body awareness.  They contain some good ideas of activities for each category.  They can be useful to supplement more fun motor programmes and activities at home and school.  Like all set programmes, they can become very repetitive and boring if these are used in a prescriptive manner and the only activities that are used for a particular child.

101-things-for-kids-to-do-outside101 Things For Kids To Do Outside by Dawn Isaac

101 Things For Kids To Do Outside by Dawn Isaac

This book is packed full of great ideas to get children outside and active.  It costs under £4.00 and would be great for home and school. See a mum’s review of the book here.

Zuma Rocker

zuma-rockerZuma Rocker

This chair looks like a school chair but has rockers on the bottom that provide gentle movement.  Gentle rocking is organising and helps children stay alert and pay attention within class.  It comes in 2 sizes and provides an alternative to a ball chair in class.


Autumn Term Courses

All the courses are held in Clitheroe, Lancashire and are open to teachers, professionals and parents. Applications are now open for all courses and an online application form should be submitted.  There are two reduced price parent places on each course on a first come first served basis. All courses are also available as INSET or in house training, please contact us  for further details and prices.

Setting Up Motor Programmes in Schools

More about this course

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Many children in education have not developed the basic motor skills that lay the foundation for academic learning to take place.  Research has shown that by developing children’s foundational motor skills, through motor programmes in schools, progress is seen in academic and learning skills such as handwriting, reading, hand-eye coordination, concentration and attention. The aim of this course is enable school staff to identify children with motor learning difficulties and equip them to set up appropriate individual or group  motor programmes in school. The course also gives staff the necessary tools to screen children’s motor skills so enabling potential problems to be detected early in the child’s school life.

Sensory Strategies for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder (Sensory Course 2)

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Tuesday 24 November 2015

The aim of this one day course is to enable teachers and health professionals who have attended the Introduction to Sensory Integration and Sensory Processing Disorder course to extend their knowledge on sensory integration and sensory processing disorder.  The major focus of this course will be to give participants the understanding and skills necessary to identify and analyse sensory behaviours, and then to set up appropriate sensory strategies within home and school. Two reduced price parent places available on this course.

Sensory Processing and Autism

More about this course

Spring 2016 TBD