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Visual Motor & Writing

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What are Visual Motor skills?

Visual motor skills involve the integration of visual information with motor output in order to use the hands and the eyes in a coordinated manner. More specifically, this skill area requires the use of visual information that is perceived in one’s environment (i.e., line on a piece of paper) to execute efficient motor patterns (i.e., cut along line with scissors). Visual motor skills are a foundational skill for many functional activities, including tying shoelaces, writing one’s name, copying from the board at school, and catching a ball.

Signs of challenge in this area include...
  • Messy handwriting

  • Difficulty coloring inside the lines

  • Challenges with copying letters, numbers, and shapes

  • Difficulty aligning scissors with paper for cutting

  • Avoidance of or difficulty with participation in sports activities

  • General clumsiness or trouble with coordination

Why is this important?

Visual motor skills impact a child’s ability to perform at an age appropriate level in the classroom, which can affect confidence, self-esteem, and participation with peers. Academic learning tasks such as writing letters and numbers, completing math problems, and copying shapes such as circles and squares are heavily visual-motor based.

In addition, visual motor skills impact a child’s level of independence with self-care, as this skill area is involved in many functional tasks, including lining up a zipper, pushing a button through a hole, pouring water into a cup, and scooping food onto a spoon to bring to mouth.


Lastly, visual motor skills influence a child’s ability to successfully interact with his or her environment. They are involved in functional play tasks, such as placing beads on a string, solving a puzzle, and stacking blocks to build a tower. Additionally, visual motor skills are required for larger body movements, such as throwing and kicking a ball with peers and participating in movement games such as hopscotch.

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How can ot help?

Occupational therapists can aid a child in developing effective visual motor skills that enable him or her to feel confident and successful in the classroom, on the playground with peers, and during self-care at home. Interventions are designed to be fun and engaging, with examples included in the following: copying a silly sentence from a model, tapping a balloon back and forth, connecting dots to form shapes and letters, and rolling a ball to knock down bowling pins.

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