In-Hand Manipulation activities for Children with Autism

children with Autism


The ability to hold and manipulate an object within the hand is called In-hand Manipulation. In-hand Manipulation activities for children with Autism is an essential component of fine motor skills.

In-hand manipulation activities for children with Autism consists of three fine movements namely,




Kids usually develop the translation skill first between the age of 2 – 4 years, followed by rotation and shift.


Within translation, there are two skills,

  • Finger to palm translation – In order to pick up or collect small objects like marbles one by one from the ground, finger to palm translation is used.
  • Palm to finger translation – In an attempt to drop each marble from hand or palm, palm to finger translation skill is used.


Here the movement is in a circular direction. For example, flipping the pencil, between the fingers of one hand, in order to use an eraser (placed on the other end of the pencil).


Here the movement is in a linear direction. For example, moving a pencil for positioning before writing or coloring.


Let’s see some activities that would help to develop in-hand manipulation skills for the children with Autism:

  1. Tearing paper and crushing paper activity
  2. Spinning tops
  3. Stringing beads
  4. Put coins into piggy banks or collected beads into a container through a small hole
  5. Open and close water bottles, jars, etc.
  6. Nuts and bolts activity
  7. Sorting colours using small colour beads or colour buttons – make the child pick up the beads or buttons of random colours one by one and ask him/her to drop, the collected beads/buttons, one by one into the respective coloured cups
  8. Play connect four game
  9. Touch the fingers game – stick some coloured stickers on each finger, for example, index – yellow; middle – blue; ring – green; for little finger – pink, now ask the child to touch each colour with their thumb
children with Autism
  1. Play UNO CARDS game by holding 5-7 cards in hand
  2. Place a small paper, pencil or any small objects between the thumb and index and ask the child to pass the object across all their fingers until they reach their little finger and bring it back to the start position
  3.  Tie a rubber band to all four fingers, now ask the child to use their thumb to bring up the rubber band from each finger
children with Autism
  1.  Roll the dice – Place a dice between thumb and index finger and ask the child to rotate the dice to show the said number
children with Autism
  1.  Peg Board – pick a peg using thumb and index, rotate between the fingers to fix it on the board.
  2. Clothespin activity – ask the child to pick a clothespin from a basket using one hand, manipulate it to clip it over a string
  3.  Practice with beads maze wooden roller coaster
children with Autism
  1.  Pencil walk – using thumb, index finger and middle finger (tripod grasp) or with only thumb and index finger (pincer grasp), hold the pencil and move fingers up and down the pencil
  2.  Place some grains, for example, raw rice, on the plate. Now add one or two drops of colour paint and ask the child to mix evenly using fingers
  1.  Scissoring activity – use child-safe scissors and cut different shapes outlined in a paper
  1.  Play-doh activity – using play-doh ask the child to make mini balls

You might like to read our other article on: “10 Activities to Improve Writing Skill of Your Child“.

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