Sensory Integration

Signs Your Child May be Having Difficulty with Motor Planning

Motor planning refers to the ability to think about, prepare, and successfully perform a non-involuntary action in the proper order, from start to finish. A child needs to properly integrate perceived stimuli in order to properly develop the appropriate and coordinated motor responses.

Typically, an individual learns motor planning during childhood and this skill is used to asses and master unfamiliar tasks, such as tying a shoe or zippering a jacket. However, not all individuals develop this important skill. Known as dyspraxia, this motor planning disorder can impact an individual’s ability to properly perform certain physical tasks.

Signs of a Motor Planning Disorder

Dyspraxia can vary in severity, affecting children in different ways. While the signs of this disorder may present themselves differently as a child ages, generally, the symptoms of motor planning disorder present themselves as early as infancy.

Some of the most common signs of motor planning disorder include:

  • A delay in developmental milestones; sitting up, rolling over, or crawling, for example.
  • Messy eating and a preference to eat with the hands instead of utensils.
  • Has difficulty throwing a ball.
  • Experiences difficulty riding a tricycle.
  • Experiences difficulty with toilet training.
  • Clumsiness; often bumps into people or things or trips.
  • Has difficulty developing a dominate hand.
  • Has difficulty picking up objects and placing them in a different location.
  • Expresses difficulty following directions.

If you believe that your child is experiencing difficulty with motor planning, seek the assistance of a trained pediatric occupational therapist as soon as possible. A therapist who is trained in motor planning disorders can use a multisensory approach, including sensory integration, to improve your child’s sensory input and responses. You can also learn some strategies that you can use in your own home to improve your child’s motor planning.

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