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New Study Links Motor Deficiencies to Children with Dyslexia

Updated: Jul 1, 2023



A new study (Scheveig and Bucci 2023)[1] has examined aspects of motor and postural function in 56 children with dyslexia compared to 38 non-dyslexic children (age range 1.9 to 11.2 years).

The study has found increased incidence of immaturity in postural and motor proficiencies, which authors say are consistent with the cerebellar theory of dyslexia. Higher levels of difficulty amongst the group with dyslexia were : unstable support, spinal instability in the sagittal, frontal and horizontal plane, head discoordination and poor eye stability compared to non-dyslexic children.

The authors concluded, “results, firstly, confirmed the poor motor control of dyslexic children, suggesting deficient cerebellar integration. Secondly, for the first time, we reported that simple tests that can be done by paediatricians and/or during a clinical routine evaluation could be useful to discriminate children with reading difficulties. The tests used in this study could be a reference for a first exploration of motor deficiencies in children with dyslexia that can be easily assessed by clinicians and/or physiotherapists”1.


These recent findings confirm results from earlier investigations (2001)[2] which had examined the presence of primitive reflexes, oculo-motor function and visual perception in 54 children (8 – 15 years) who had received a previous independent diagnosis of dyslexia. Persistence of primitive reflexes in children above the age of 6 months provide indications of immaturity in the functioning of the central nervous system which can undermine aspects of postural control, balance, coordination and oculo-motor function in older children. This study had revealed abnormal primitive and postural reflexes to be a universal underlying factor in the sample. A high percentage of the sample also demonstrated difficulties with oculo-motor functioning, visual-motor integration, visual-perceptual skills and dysdiadochokinesia, suggesting a positive relationship between abnormal reflex activity as a reflection of CNS maturity and immature postural, motor and visual function, likely to undermine cognitive skills which rely on visual-motor integration.


More recent findings from studies which have examined the incidence of neuromotor skills in the general school population have indicated that immature neuromotor skills are linked to lower levels of educational achievement (Goddard Blythe 2005[3], Ivanovíc et al. 2019[4], Pecuch et al 2020[5], Zielínska & Goddard Blythe 2021[6], Goddard Blythe et al.2021[7]). All studies point to deficiencies in the functioning of vestibular-cerebellar connections.


Scheveig and Bucci’s most recent findings and recommendations support the use of clinician led screening of children’s neuromotor skills – a recommendation which has long been advocated by INPP.[8][9]


Neuromotor Immaturity in Children and Adults : The INPP Screening Test for Clinicians and Health Practitioners was created as a resource to make this kind of testing easily accessible for clinicians. For more information about the book and to purchase, click through to this link: https://sallygoddardblythe.co.uk/books#neuromotor-immaturity



References:

[1]Scheveig F & Bucci MP, 2023. Postural and Proprioceptive Deficits Clinically Assessed in Children with Reading Disabilities: A Case-Control Study Vision 7: 37. https://doi.org/10.3390/vision7020037 [2] Goddard Blythe SA, 2001. Neurological dysfunction as a significant factor in children diagnosed with dyslexia. Proceedings of the 5th International British Dyslexia Association Conference. University of York. April 2001. [3] Goddard Blythe, 2005. Releasing educational potential through movement. A summary of individual studies carried out using the INPP developmental test battery and exercise programme for use in schools with children with special educational needs. Child Care in Practice. 11/4:415-432 [4] Ivanovíc et al. 2019. Does neuromotor immaturity represent a risk for acquitting basic academic skills in school-age children? Vojnoisanitetski Pregled. 76/10:1062-1070, [5] Pecuch et al, 2020. Primitive reflex activity in relation to the sensory profile in healthy school children. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health. 17:8210 [6] Zielińska M & Goddard Blythe SA, 2021. School functioning of students with neuromotor immaturity. International Journal of Pedagogy Innovation and New Technologies Journal. 7/2:40-46. [7] Goddard Blythe et al. 2021. Neuromotor readiness for school: the primitive reflex status of young children at the start and end of their first year at school in the United Kingdom. Education 3-13. March 2021. [8] Goddard Blythe SA. 2012. Assessing neuromotor readiness for learning. The INPP developmental screening test and school intervention programme. Wiley Blackwell. Chichester. [9] Goddard Blythe SA, 2014. Neuromotor immaturity in children and adults. The INPP screening test for clinicians and health practitioners. Wiley Blackwell. Chichester.

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