Pin Me

Identifying Problems With Gross Motor Skills

written by: Mayflor Markusic • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 1/17/2012

Does your child have problems developing gross motor skills? These dysfunctions may indicate serious health and developmental problems, and learning disabilities. Here we explain how they can be identified and potentially resolved.

  • slide 1 of 3

    Gross vs. Fine

    First, it is important to know the difference between gross and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills refer to an individual’s ability to utilize large muscles, such as the muscles of the legs or torso. On the other hand, fine motor skills are abilities to use smaller groups of muscles, such as those in the fingers. Both types of motor skills are important and should be developed to the fullest.

    Based on observations, many gross motor skills are developed earlier than fine motor skills. That is, a child learns to open and close his hand before grasping a small ball. As the child matures, these gross motor skills are refined to acquire deftness in more complex actions such as biking and dancing.

  • slide 2 of 3

    When the Child Has Poor Gross Motor Skills

    The gradual development of gross motor skills, when the child grows older is often taken for granted. But the development of such skills can be slowed down. Some of the possible causes of poor gross motor skills include slow development, health issues, diseases such as cerebral palsy and down syndrome, and even complications experienced by the mother during pregnancy and delivery.

    More than 50% of students with poor gross motor skills or with gross motor dysfunctions suffer from learning problems, speech problems, and poor self-esteem problems. Among preschool-age children, problems in the development of gross motor skills lead to lack of confidence because the children will be too afraid to explore new activities. Another consequence of poor gross motor coordination is social isolation. The child will not be invited to play and this will exclude him or her from circles of friends.

  • slide 3 of 3

    Types of Gross Motor Skills Dysfunctions

    To help your child cope with poor gross motor skills, the first step is to find out which type of dysfunction is present. The Faculty of Education, Humanities, Law and Theology of the Flinders University of Australia identified these nine common types of dysfunctions.

    1. Poor awareness of body location and position – The child, even when stationary, has a difficult time perceiving the location of his body. The child will also have problems maintaining balance.
    2. Poor sense of movement – The child have problems in monitoring his or her body movements, especially when engaged in activities such as running, hopping, and jumping.
    3. Erroneous visual-spatial perception and processing – The child has problems in visually perceiving and processing distance and space. It will be difficult to judge trajectories in activities such as throwing and catching.
    4. Frequent failure in verbal-motor integration – The child could not accurately translate verbal instructions into desired actions. This can greatly hinder the child’s participation in games, particularly team sports.
    5. Deficient motor planning – The child could not adequately plan his or her motor strategies to accomplish a given task. For example, the child could not estimate and subsequently execute how fast he/she should run in order to catch a ball.
    6. Weak muscle coordination – The child could not coordinate or synchronize the movement of muscle groups in order to perform a complex task.
    7. Lack of motor memory – The child, after recently performing a series of muscle movements to complete a task, could not repeat the same movements.
    8. Weak muscle tone – The child’s muscle tone and strength are underdeveloped, which leads to poor control of muscles.
    9. Inadequate of monitoring of actions – The child, while performing an action, could not satisfactorily monitor and evaluate the continuous action of his or her muscle groups.

    If one or more of these dysfunctions are present, the child should be thoroughly examined by a doctor as soon as possible.