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Teenage Zone

Teenage Zone

Teenage Zone

As a teenager you will be developing increased coordination and motor ability together with greater physical strength and prolonged endurance. You will be able to develop better distance judgment and hand-eye coordination. You begin to master the skills necessary for adult sports, with practice.

Fine motor skills

Building strength in the small muscles of the hand is necessary for everyday activities. Teenagers need hand-eye coordination (performing activities with the hands with help from the eyes) to write longer paragraphs or essays with a pencil, eat meals with a fork or spoon and participate in most sports. They also need bilateral coordination (using both hands together or having one hand work while the other hand stabilizes) to independently dress, manipulate small objects, and cut food with a knife.

It is never too late for teenagers to improve their fine motor skills. With a little bit of patience and consistent practice, fine motor skills can be improved!

Finding fun activities in fine motor for teens to participate in may seem impossible. But with a little creativity, activities can be fun and improve the fine motor skills of older students. The key is to find activities that older students are interested in.

  • jigsaw puzzles – fun and challenging puzzles with smaller pieces that older students find enjoyable (300-500 piece puzzle is good for this age)
  • board games – board games that are interactive or have small pieces to manage are great (i.e. Monopoly, Jenga)
  • friendship bracelets – use different materials such as wire, fabric, and yarn to make different pattern bracelets
  • Lego sets – select a favourite theme from characters, landmarks, or vehicles (1000-5000 piece set is a good challenge for a teen)
  • dice games – cupping, rolling, and releasing the dice incorporates a variety of fine motor skills
  • clay or pottery activities – build and sculpt the clay to improve our motor skills using the hands
  • bake and cook – measure, pour, stir – the fine motor activities are endless!
  • sew – many easy sewing projects out there for teens and a great life skill!
  • paint – paint figurines or paint on a blank canvas
  • model making – build or construct model cars or replica buildings
  • playing a musical instrument
  • practicing beauty routines

However, in this digital society, we are starting to see a decrease in fine motor skills among teenagers. The constant use of computers, tablets, and cell phones limits the ability to build strength in the small muscles of the hands.

Gross motor skills

Teenagers will develop increased coordination and motor ability together with greater physical strength and prolonged endurance. They are able to develop better distance judgment and hand-eye coordination. They are able to master the skills necessary for adult sports, with practice.

Activities to improve gross motor skills

1. Trampolines: Jumping on a trampoline is a great activity to improve balance. It can also be part of a sensory diet for sensory seekers. Going to an indoor trampoline park can turn practice into a social event with friends. You can also buy a mini trampoline to use at home. (If you do, it’s important to follow safety rules, such as having a jump bar.)

2. Bowling: Aiming for targets and rolling a bowling ball is another way to work on gross motor skills. If you don’t have a bowling alley nearby, you can always set up water-bottle bowling at home, using empty plastic water bottles and a soccer ball.

3. Walking or climbing: Walking or climbing over unstable surfaces can help you work on strengthening your trunk muscles. Consider taking a hike.

4. Swimming: Swimming is a whole-body activity in which your body has to work against the resistance of the water. It not only builds gross motor skills, it also helps with proprioceptive awareness (knowing where your body is in space).

5. Playground activities: Using “unstable” playground equipment also helps develop your trunk muscles. You can try out things like rope ladders and wobble bridges. Plus, it gives you an excuse to return to the playground!

6. Riding a bike or a scooter: Some people who struggle with gross motor skills may learn to ride a bike later than their peers do. A scooter is a little easier to master and can be a step on the way to bike riding. Once you do get the hang of it, though, bike riding can help you to learn to maintain balance. Plus, it gives them a way to get around independently and an activity where you can interact with your peers.

7. Dancing: Whether it’s a dance class, a dance at school, or just dancing to music at home, dancing has many benefits. Dancing helps you to develop balance, coordination, and motor sequencing skills. It can also be a great way for you to socialise.

Why is P.E. often difficult for- young people with dyspraxia/ DCD (Development Coordination Disorder)?

Dyspraxia, also known as developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD), is a common disorder that affects movement and co-ordination.

Dyspraxia does not affect your intelligence. It can affect your co-ordination skills – such as tasks requiring balance, playing sports or learning to drive a car. Dyspraxia can also affect your fine motor skills, such as writing or using small objects.

From the Dyspraxia Foundation website:

As gross and fine motor difficulties are affected many children may experience some or all of the following difficulties:

  • balance – fall over, wobble, difficulty standing on one leg
  • eye hand coordination- catching balls, aiming, predicting how fast a ball is approaching or moving
  • eye foot coordination – difficulty with trapping a ball, kicking with good direction
  • motor planning  – difficulty planning the correct movements needed to carry out a task so difficulty with climbing onto and off apparatus
  • stamina  – tire easily, have difficulty with long distance running
  • spatial awareness – difficulty accurately predicting people moving around them so knock into others or objects, cannot find an open space
  • speed of processing – difficulty being able to coordinate all their movements into a timed response so may miss the ball
  • short term memory – remembering rules
  • fine motor skills – changing for and after lesson
  • self-organisational skills- Forgetting and losing PE equipment and kit, lose change of clothes

The problem with team sports

Young people with dyspraxia/DCD often find team sports particularly challenging. Apart from the physical difficulty of manipulating equipment such as a bat, having a good aim or catching or kicking a ball, their difficulties often result in:

  • a struggle of constantly observing their surroundings
  • reacting quickly to the changing environment
  • manoeuvring themselves around others and the pitch
  • tiring quickly
  • anticipating the reaction of others
  • anticipating the speed, distance and direction of the ball
  • staying focused for the duration of the game
  • understanding the rules and strategies of a game.

As team games are usually competitive it may lead the child to feel frustrated and have feelings of low self-esteem.

Dyspraxia—Hints and Tips for Teenagers!

The Dyspraxia Foundation provide a fact sheet for teenagers- Remember you are a unique individual and you don’t have to do things that make you uncomfortable just to fit in.

Here is some of their helpful advice:

Hobbies & leisure activities

Don’t worry about what other teenagers are doing. Identify a hobby or leisure activity that interests you and investigate how you can do it locally. You will probably meet like-minded people who you will enjoy being with.

It is important to keep active for your long term health and fitness. Identify a sport or physical activity that appeals to you – this doesn’t have to be a ‘mainstream’ activity, but may be something like climbing, canoeing or cycling.

Writing or typing?

Try different shaped pens/pencils to find one that suits you. You may prefer one that has a chunky barrel and a bit of weight so that you can ‘feel’ it in your hand more easily.

Typing is an important life skill, and it is worth putting in time to teach yourself properly. There are lots of free typing programmes on the internet – find one that appeals to you.

You may find a touch screen easier to use, for example an IPad or tablet.

Set up a system for filing and storing work on your computer so that you can find it again easily. Keeping to the system will prevent you from wasting time looking for things later on.

Organisation for school/college/work

Get into the habit of making your lunch, organising your bag and checking your timetable the night before.

If you have to take something special with you to school/college/work, attach a brightly coloured sticky-note to the front door the night before to remind you.

Laminate and colour-code a small timetable and keep this to hand in your bag or jacket so that you can check it often. Matching the colours on your timetable to the colour of the exercise books used for that lesson will also help with your organisation.

Choose a bag that has external pockets. Always keep the same things in these pockets so that you can quickly check that you have the important things that you need, for example your planner and pens.

‘Rucksack’ style bags that go over both shoulders are better for your posture and easier to manage than those that go over one shoulder and across your body. If you choose a bag with a quickrelease strap, you could keep one shoulder strap done up and secure the second strap once the bag is on your back.

Useful links:

Some useful information for teachers about how dyspraxia affects students at secondary school, including a link to some Dyspraxia Foundation Secondary School Guidelines, can be found here:

View a great film about dyspraxia, produced by a young lady called Abi Hocking who has dyspraxia here:

http://www.dyspraxicteens.org.uk/forum/ is a safe discussion forum for teenagers with dyspraxia to ‘meet’ others who experience similar challenges and to share ideas about things that work.


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