Motor Skills Disorder

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Motor skills disorder, also called motor coordination disorder or motor dyspraxia, is a common disorder of childhood. It is estimated to be present in about 6% of school age children (between ages 5 and 11 yrs).
  • Children with this disorder have associated problems including difficulty in processing visuo-spatial information needed to guide their motor actions they may not be able to recall or plan complex motor activities such as:
    • – dancing,
    • – doing gymnastics,
    • – catching or throwing a ball with accuracy, or
    • – producing fluent legible handwriting
  • Often there is a history of early delay in the development of motor skills. This may present as a delay in the ability to sit up or learning to walk well.
  • Often, these children are described as clumsy or forgetful, (for example, they may never turn the water faucet or lights off).
  • These children may have difficulty using a cup, spoon or fork to eat.
  • They may have the tendency to drop items or run into walls/furniture and have frequent accidents due to motor planning difficulties.
  • They may have trouble with tasks requiring hand-eye coordination and dexterity (hammering a nail, connecting wires etc.)
  • These children may also have difficulty holding a pencil and learning to write.

Motor skills disorder can be extremely disabling both in academic settings (school) as well as in everyday life due to impairment of functioning. Children and adults with this disorder are at risk for obesity, due to the higher rates of physical inactivity, and often suffer from low self-esteem as well as academic underachievement.
Motor Skills Disorder Causes:
There is no known exact cause of this disorder; however, it is often associated with physiological or developmental abnormalities such as:
  • prematurity,
  • developmental disabilities (cognitive deficits)
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD)
  • mathematics or reading learning disorders
It should be differentiated from other motor disorders, such as:
  • cerebral palsy
  • muscular dystrophy
  • inherited metabolic disorders

Children with this disorder have variable symptoms, depending on the age of diagnosis (as with most childhood disorders).
  • Young infants may present with non-specific findings, such as hypotonia (floppy baby) or hypertonia (rigid baby).
  • Older infants may be delayed in their ability to sit, stand or walk.
  • Toddlers may have difficulty feeding themselves.
  • Older children may have a hard time learning to hold a pencil, and tend to knock over drinking glasses more often than expected.
As children with this disorder age, they often avoid physical activities, especially those requiring complex motor behaviors such as:
  • Dancing
  • Gymnastics
  • Swimming
  • Catching or Throwing a ball
  • Writing
  • Drawing

This is due to the individual’s propensity to fall or trip more often than others and their inability to complete motor tasks adequately. These individuals may have more bruises or superficial skin injuries due to being “clumsy”. They may often feel unable to judge spatial distances and have difficulty with shutting off faucets, turning off devices, and tend to have trouble putting together puzzles or toys.