ESDM Techniques for Boosting Motor Skill Development in Autistic Children


On May 5, 2024

Motor skill development plays a vital role in every child’s overall growth, and for young autistic children, enhancing their fine and gross motor skills can lead to significant improvements in everyday functioning and self-confidence. As a trusted ESDM early intervention provider in Melbourne, Amazing Kids is proud to support parents and potential therapists in utilising evidence-based Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) techniques to facilitate the optimal development of motor skills in children under 5. By embracing these specialised strategies, parents can create a supportive and nurturing environment that empowers young autistic children to conquer motor skill challenges and reach their full physical potential.

In this blog, we will dive into the various ESDM techniques that can be implemented to boost fine and gross motor skills development in young autistic children. We will explore different strategies, activities, and interventions that cater to each child’s unique needs and motor skill challenges, with a focus on activities that improve coordination, dexterity, balance, and strength. Our aim is to provide parents and potential therapists with comprehensive knowledge and resources to facilitate the successful development of essential motor skills in young autistic children.

1. Fostering Fine Motor Skills with ESDM Strategies

Fine motor skills are crucial for the development of young autistic children, as they enable them to perform intricate tasks such as writing, cutting, and manipulating objects. ESDM strategies focus on refining fine motor skills in various ways:

– Introduce age-appropriate fine motor activities, such as sort-and-match games, puzzles, threading activities, or play-based activities using tweezers or tongs.

– Engage in structured, one-on-one play therapy sessions to practice specific fine motor skills, ensuring that therapists and parents address each child’s individual needs and challenges.

– Modify everyday activities and routines to emphasise fine motor skill practice, such as encouraging the use of utensils during meal times or enlisting children’s help in simple household tasks like folding laundry.

2. Encouraging Gross Motor Skill Development through ESDM Techniques

Developing gross motor skills is essential for young autistic children, as it lays the foundation for physical abilities, such as walking, jumping, and climbing. ESDM techniques can help enhance gross motor skill development in several ways:

– Provide opportunities for gross motor skill practice through structured play, including activities that hone balance, coordination, muscle strength, and endurance.

– Incorporate gross motor activities into daily routines, such as walking to school, playing at the park, or participating in age-appropriate team sports or group-based physical activities.

– Foster a positive and supportive environment in which children feel motivated and secure, offering encouragement and praise during gross motor skill practice to bolster self-esteem and engagement.

3. Establishing Consistency and Scaffolded Support with ESDM Methods

Consistency and scaffolded support are vital components of ESDM practices that directly impact motor skill development in young autistic children:

– Develop and implement Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) targeting specific fine and gross motor skill goals within a specific timeframe, allowing for measurable progress.

– Collaborate with a multidisciplinary team of professionals, including occupational therapists, physical therapists, and ESDM-certified providers, to ensure a consistent and comprehensive approach to motor skill development.

– Provide ongoing support, both at home and within the intervention setting, gradually reducing support as the child achieves greater mastery of motor skills, ensuring continued progress and self-sufficiency.

4. Engaging Parents and Caregivers in ESDM Implementation

Parents and caregivers are essential partners in promoting motor skill development in young autistic children. ESDM techniques emphasise the value of whole-family engagement in supporting developmental progress:

– Facilitate parent coaching sessions that provide comprehensive training in ESDM techniques, allowing caregivers to support their child’s motor skill development at home effectively.

– Encourage open communication between therapists, caregivers, and educators to foster a consistent and unified approach to motor skill development across all settings.

– Advocate for the importance of family involvement in intervention planning and goal-setting, ensuring that the whole family is committed to supporting the child’s motor skill development journey.


Utilising Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) techniques can yield significant improvements in fine and gross motor skills development for young autistic children under 5. By focusing on targeted interventions, scaffolded support, and family engagement, ESDM techniques can empower autistic children to overcome challenges and develop the physical confidence and dexterity needed for success.

As a leading ESDM early intervention provider in Melbourne, Amazing Kids is committed to supporting parents and potential therapists in fostering motor skill development in young autistic children. For more information on how our ESDM services can support your child’s motor skill development journey, contact Amazing Kids today. Let’s work together to unlock their full physical potential.

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