Fine Motor Skills

What is ‘Crossing Midline’ and How Can you Tell if Your Child is Having Difficulty with this Skill

You know that there is a left and right side of your body, but did you know that in order for your left and right side to work together, they have to cross an imaginary line that runs down the middle of your body.

The term “crossing the midline” is used to describe an individual’s ability to reach across that imaginary line that runs down the center of your body. For example, when you reach your right arm over to the left side of your body, you are “crossing the midline”.

The ability to “cross the midline” is a vital developmental skill that is required for various day-to-day tasks, including writing, getting dressed, brushing teeth and other fine motor skills. This skill is usually completely mastered by 3 to 4 years of age; however, this is not the case in all children.

If a child has is having problems with this developmental skill, he won’t develop a dominant hand, as both hands will get equal amounts of practice. As a result, things like handwriting will be more challenging for the child to learn.

Signs of Crossing Midline Difficulty In Your Child

There are several signs that indicate a child is having difficulty with crossing the midline, including:

  • Switching hands when writing, painting or drawing.
  • Uses the right hand to perform actions on the right side of the body and uses the left hand to perform actions on the left side of the body.
  • Switches feet when kicking a ball.
  • Expresses difficulty with gross motor skills (skipping, crawling, running, etc)

If you believe that your child is demonstrating difficulty with this developmental skill, a pediatric occupational therapist will be able to provide the help that your child needs, including providing bilateral activities, to develop this important skill.

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