Motor Skills Disorders

Evaluation of Clumsiness in Children - Article

ABSTRACT: Parents and physicians often dismiss seemingly minor motor difficulties in children. Approximately 6 percent of school-aged children have coordination problems serious enough to interfere with academic performance and social integration. These problems often arise during the early school years and manifest in difficulties with such simple motor tasks as running, buttoning, or using scissors. Increasing evidence shows that rather than improving over time, these motor difficulties remain stable throughout adolescence and adulthood. While these children are initially singled out for motor difficulties, their problems are rarely limited to poor motor coordination. Many of them have a range of associated deficits, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities, poor handwriting and drawing skills, and emotional immaturity. Associated problems magnify with time, and as teenagers, these children have higher rates of educational, social, and emotional problems. Diagnosis is determined by taking a careful history that includes a review of fine motor, visual, adaptive, and gross motor milestones, and performing a physical examination. Formal standardized testing may be indicated. Referral to occupational therapy that is appropriately individualized to the needs of each child appears to be effective. To aid in management, the family physician must be aware of this condition, as well as the associated coexisting deficits.

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