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Sensory and/or Physical Needs

Sensory and/or physical needs

Where children and young people have visual and/or hearing impairments, or a physical need that means they must have additional on-going support and equipment.

Gross motor skills 


Gross motor skills involve our large muscles such as arms, legs and stomachs. We use them for all sorts of different everyday activities. Your gross motor skills are linked to other body abilities, such as:

  • balance
  • coordination
  • body awareness
  • physical strength
  • reaction time


If a child has poor gross motor skills it can impact in all areas of their life and make it difficult to do essential tasks in school and home. Regularly taking the time to develop these muscles is invaluable. See the easy to do programmes available to pick up at home. 

Fine motor skills


Fine motor skills are the ability to create movements using the hand and wrists' small muscles. We use these muscles daily for essential tasks at home and school. Some child find these tasks challenging due to a weakness in the muscles or a misconnection between brain and muscle. 


Understood.org have some great activities for fine motor skills: 


1. Play-dough and putty

Play-dough and putty are often used as part of the heavy work component of a sensory diet . They can also help improve a child’s fine motor skills. Encourage your child to squeeze, stretch, pinch and roll “snakes” or “worms” with the play clay. You can even have your child try to cut the play-dough with scissors. (Learn how to make three types of sensory-friendly slime , including putty slime.)

2. Painting

Different types of painting can help strengthen your child’s hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity. Finger painting gives kids an opportunity to use their hands — and to get messy. Painting with a brush helps kids learn to hold a brush and gain greater control using it as a tool. (Paint-by-number kits are great for brush painting.) To add a little sensory play to the mix, you can even try scratch-and-sniff painting .

3. Playing with sponges

A new, clean sponge, some water and two bowls are all you need for another activity to build fine motor skills. Fill a bowl with water and leave the other empty. Your child can soak the sponge in the water and then squeeze out the sponge into the other bowl. It’s a simple game that can strengthen hands and forearms. If you cut off a cube of the sponge and have a small chalkboard and some chalk, you can also do a “Wet-Dry-Try” multisensory handwriting activity .

4. Rice races

Divide a handful of uncooked rice into two plastic bowls and have an empty bowl handy. Give your child small plastic tweezers and grab a pair for yourself. Then, have a race to see who can be the first to transfer their rice into the empty bowl using the tweezers. If your child is struggling because the grains of rice are too small, you may want to begin with O-shaped cereal or pony beads.

5. Water play

Fill a cup about a quarter full of water. Give your child an empty cup and an eyedropper or a clean medicine syringe. Have your child try to transfer the water from one cup to the other by drawing the water into the dropper or syringe and then dropping or squirting it into the empty cup. You could also give your child more cups, add food coloring to the water, and make this a color-mixing experiment.

6. Gardening and planting

Digging and gardening may seem like activities more suited to building gross motor skills , but there are parts of it that require smaller muscle control, too. For instance, transferring seedlings into a garden requires hand-eye coordination skills to safely carry the smaller plant to the new hole. Your child will also need to be able to grasp a trowel to dig and to use a pincer grasp when picking up seeds to plant.



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