Why is Motor Skills Development so important?
All children have rapid changes in development in their CNS (Central Nervous System) as they age. In brief…the CNS consists of the brain and spinal cord. The CNS uses sensory receptors throughout the body to assist movement. Movement is motor function that results from a series of sensory and motor neuron events occurring in very short succession. The groundwork for the CNS begins in the womb, and is partially influenced even then, by their environment.
Voluntary movements (initiated by self) are the first means of communication between baby and its family. Sometimes the CNS develops “slower” as compared to their neurotypical counterparts.
This slower development does not always result in delayed or impaired motor development. However when it does, it can be immediately noticeable or later in life (months or years). If the CNS is compromised at all in the birthing process or later by infection or disease the motor development of the child is affected.
Delayed motor skills are those skills that are underdeveloped compared to other children of similar age. These skills can be developed using clever gross motor (multiple joint/sensors) and fine motor (single joint) programming. It is very successful when this programming is consistent, individualized and progressive. Programming involves segmented movements that relate to the weakest points for the child. Some examples of topics are jumping, stepping, picking up weight, cycling, climbing and catching where skills are broken down into their finest form to development movement patterns that last. In some cases we see children with delayed skills to have less efficient metabolisms, thereby increasing body weight easily.
In the cases of children with behavioural and social challenges the “emotional override” by the brain’s limbic system of the CNS will disrupt motor skills. In this case its necessary to work on their preparation for movement. There are delays in the CNS that cause balance issues in this regard. A child at any age can improve their motor functions. Yes, adults also can, but not as rapidly.
Neurological disorders can cause semi-permanent or permanent motor skill loss. In these children there is a good opportunity to aid the body in recruiting new motor nerves to help improve movement. All bodies have the ability to improve in some capacity and also compensate for inadequate abilities.
Motor skill development is very important for safety, social life and health. Most children naturally want to interact with other children or at least have a sense of self-esteem. Some children have motor delays and impulsivity tendencies, which is a combination for injury. Spending time on specific motor development aids the child throughout their entire life. Balance control and strength for safety, relationships and sport development, and brain and circulatory health. So often the motor development aids the mental focus too! Best practices or strategies in motor development require goals and evaluation.
In all, children need to have fun and developing these necessary skills only helps in the fun and participation. Children like physical outlets and this ultimately helps manage emotions and behaviour. When children do not develop their “potential” skills the challenges can be greater in other areas of their life experience.
written by Mr. Corey Evans Executive Director of BODiWORKS Institute, Founder of the Adapted Gym Program (AGP)