Clinical Practice, Exploring the Role of Occupational Therapy, Occupational Therapy in Practice, Practice Development

25th Oct 2016 – Impact of poor motor skills development on other areas of functioning.

This week’s #OTalk (25th October, 2016) will be hosted by members of Goldsmiths Action Lab, using the @GoldActionLab Twitter account.

Motor skills support every aspect of our daily life and, in early childhood, enable some of the first opportunities for a child to learn about their environment and to interact with others. Motor difficulties are characteristic of certain medical conditions, such as cerebral palsy. But they are also common in children that fall under the umbrella of ‘neurodevelopmental disorder’. A particular focus of our research interests is children with a diagnosis of developmental coordination disorder (DCD), which is often referred to as ‘dyspraxia’ in the UK. However, children with dyslexia or a language impairment, as well as those with an autism spectrum disorder, may also be differentially affected.

DCD is diagnosed on the basis of motor coordination difficulties and is thought to affect around 5-6%, which means that at least 1 child in a typical school classroom of 30 children would meet the criteria for DCD. Children with DCD are often referred for occupational therapy to help support motor skills training and increase functional outcomes. Certainly, difficulties with motor skill (including speed/accuracy of movements) and sequencing of motor actions will have repercussions on daily living skills (e.g., using cutlery, dressing) and in the classroom (e.g., handwriting). But, we believe, it is also important to be aware of how motor ability impacts on other aspects of development.

One strand of our research at the Goldsmiths Action Lab ( concerns how poor motor skill relates to social behaviour (for example, see Sumner, Leonard, & Hill, 2016). We find that children with motor difficulties also experience problems with developing peer relations. During this #OTalk we are keen to hear about the thoughts and experiences of practising and training OTs in relation to supporting and developing motor, and related, skills. We hope to stimulate conversations about how to support motor difficulties and what can be done to raise awareness of the impact of motor difficulties. The following questions are some points for discussion to get us started:

  1. Should we consider motor skill to be an important development skill? Why?
  2. What are your experiences of supporting children and/or adults with motor difficulties?
  3. How do you approach motor skills training: one approach fits all, or person-centered? Do you use a particular model?
  4. Have you observed how motor skill/difficulties impact on other aspects of development/functioning? In what way?
  5. How can we encourage teachers/parents to identify and support motor difficulties and their impact?


Note. Abbreviations for our Twitter talk: DCD = Developmental Coordination Disorder; ASD = autism spectrum disorder, although can be shortened to ‘autism’ to save characters!

Post Chat 

The Numbers
1,660,256 Impressions
672 Tweets
91 Participants
28 Avg Tweets/Hour
7 Avg Tweets/Participant

Online Transcript

#OTalk Participants

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