Monday, November 20, 2017

Fine Motor Skills, Visual Function, and Reading in Children

Fine Motor Skills, Visual Function, and Reading in ChildrenFine Motor Skills, Visual Function, and Reading in Children

Human Movement Science recently published research examining the association between fine motor skills, visual function, and reading in children. The participants included 19 children who were reading below expected grade and age level.  In order to test whether the children identified with reading difficulties perform worse only on fine motor tasks that rely on binocular input, the researchers used two experimental tasks: bead-threading and peg-board.   Each participant completed tests for stereoacuity, fusional vergence, amplitude of accommodation, and accommodative facility.

The results indicated:

  • children with reading difficulties performed significantly worse on the bead-threading task.
  • performance on the peg-board task was similar in both groups.
  • accommodative facility was the only measure of binocular function significantly associated with motor performance.

The researchers concluded that normal binocular vision may provide an important sensory input for the development of fine motor skills and reading.  Further research was recommended with a larger sample size.

Read more on the link between visual-motor integration and reading.

Reference: Niechwiej-Szwedo, E., Alramis, F., & Christian, L. W. (2017). Association between fine motor skills and binocular visual function in children with reading difficulties. Human movement science56(Pt B), 1.

Need fine motor skill activities?  Check out all of our resources here.  Visual perceptual resources?  Find out more here.

Fine Motor Skills, Visual Function, and Reading in Children


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Saturday, November 18, 2017

How to Write a Social Story with Visual Supports

How to Write a Social Story with Visual SupportsHow to Write a Social Story with Visual Supports

Do you know a child that is struggling with different situations?  Perhaps it is learning a new routine, participating in a conversation or playing with peers.  Whatever the situation, a social story may be helpful to inform children of what they can expect and what is expected of them.  Writing a social story can be a daunting task.  Here are some tips on how to write a social story with visual supports.

Use Different Types of Sentences

Carol Gray developed the concept of social stories.  She recommends that social stories include descriptive sentences and directive sentences.  You should write two descriptive sentences for every directive sentence that is included.  Sentences that describe can be factual sentences, perspective sentences, cooperative sentences and affirmative sentences.  Here are some examples:

  • Descriptive/Factual Sentence:  I ride a bus to school.
  • Perspective Sentence:  Sometimes, I get upset when I ride the bus.
  • Cooperative Sentence:  When I get upset, my friends can give me some space.
  • Affirmative Sentence:  Staying calm on the bus is good.

Sentences that direct can be can be directive or control sentences.  Here are some examples:

  • Directive Sentence (guide the child):  I may ask the bus aide for help.
  • Control Sentence (written by the child):  If I get upset, I can listen to my music.

Prepare the Story

Pick the topic and prepare the story.  Begin to write the text remembering to include 2 descriptive sentences for every 1 directive sentence.  If possible, involve the children in the creation of the social story.  This allows for ownership of the story and in turn, may increase compliance.  Guide the children with open-ended questions if necessary.

Add Pictures

Determine what pictures you will add to the story.  Place the picture above the text.  Make sure the pictures are clear and represent the meaning of the story.  Use photographs of the children, classroom or home or visual support pictures if you are unable to take photos.

Create the Book

If the book will be used to read to a large group, create a larger book.  If the book will be in the class library, laminate it for durability.  If the book is to be used with many children, make multiple copies so each child has his/her own.

Reading the Story

Be sure to set aside time to read the story to the children.  The children should be a “ready to learn” state and attended to the topic.  Read the book several times and have the children read it as well if possible.  Discuss personal experiences regarding the story to make connections to real-world situations.

After the Story

Once you have read the story several times, try role-playing to deepen the child’s understanding of the behavioral expectations. Provide on-going positive feedback when the child exhibits the expected outcome or behavior following the use of the social story.   Keep the social stories easily accessible so that children can re-read as necessary to review the expectations.

Reference: More, C. M. (2012). Social Stories™ and young children: Strategies for teachers. Intervention in School and Clinic47(3), 167-174.

If you are looking for resources to help jump start social story writing check out:

Cut and Paste Sensory DietVisual Supports: Schedules, Self-Regulation, & Classroom InclusionGoing to Doctor Visual Schedule

How to Write a Social Story with Visual Supports

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Effects of Yoga on Autism Symptoms

Effects of Yoga on Autism SymptomsEffects of Yoga on Autism Symptoms

Complimentary Therapies in Clinical Practice published research on the effectiveness of yoga training program on the severity of autism.  The study consisted of 29 children (ages 7-15 years) with high functioning autism. The participants were randomly assigned to the yoga treatment group (received 24 sessions of yoga training over 8 weeks) or the control group.  Parents were not aware whether their child was in the yoga treatment or control group.  Parents or caregivers completed the autism treatment evaluation checklist (ATEC) at the beginning and the end of the intervention.  Read more about the ATEC here.  View the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist here.

The results indicated that:

  • yoga poses had a significant effect on the following subscores of ATEC: sociability, cognitive/awareness, and health/physical behavior.

  • there was no significant effect of yoga poses on the speech/language/communication subscores of the ATEC.

The researchers concluded that a yoga training program may help to reduce the severity of symptoms in children with autism.

Reference:  Sotoodeh, M. S., Arabameri, E., Panahibakhsh, M., Kheiroddin, F., Mirdoozandeh, H., & Ghanizadeh, A. (2017). Effectiveness of yoga training program on the severity of autism. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice28, 47-53.

Check out some of our amazing yoga resources for kids!

Yoga CardsYoga Moves Cover YTSYoga for Every SeasonScooter & Me Bundle – 9 Videos & 16 Self-Regulation Flash Cards

Blog post photo by YURALAITS ALBERT/

Effects of Yoga on Autism Symptoms



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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Motor Overflow in Preschool Children

Motor Overflow in Preschool Children

Motor Overflow in Preschool Children

When observing preschoolers complete complex motor tasks, you may observe an increase in motor activation displayed as extraneous movements in body parts not actively involved in the current task.  These extraneous movements are sometimes called motor overflow, mirror movements or associated movements.  Perceptual and Motor Skills published research examining what is associated with motor overflow in preschool children.  The study participants included 476 preschool children (average age: 3.88 years).  Three assessments were completed on each preschooler.  Contralateral associated movements (motor overflow)were measured with the Zurich Neuromotor Assessment (i.e. pegboard, alternating finger/hand movements and timed finger tasks).  Inhibitory motor control was measured with the statue motor persistence subtest of the Neuropsychological Assessment for Children – children have to stand still with eyes closed with occasional distractions.  Cognitive functioning was assessed with the Intelligence and Development Scales–Preschool.

The results indicated the following:

  • a significant relationship between contralateral associated movements and motor persistence, selective attention, and visual perception which are all related to overall executive functioning.
  • the intensity of the contralateral associated movements correlated with inhibitory control problems in preschoolers.
  • no significant relationship between contralateral associated movements intensity and visuospatial working memory and figural reasoning.

The researchers concluded that this association of contralateral associated movements and lack of inhibitory control in younger, healthy, typically developing children requires further longitudinal studies and studies to identify motor overflow with specific neurodevelopmental disorders for early detection.

Reference:  Kakebeeke, T. H., Messerli-Bürgy, N., Meyer, A. H., Zysset, A. E., Stülb, K., Leeger-Aschmann, C. S., … & Munsch, S. (2017). Contralateral Associated Movements Correlate with Poorer Inhibitory Control, Attention and Visual Perception in Preschool Children. Perceptual and motor skills124(5), 885-899.

Read the Ultimate Guide to Self-Regulation to learn more about inhibitory control in children.

Yoga has been shown to have a significant effect on self-regulation in preschool children.  Read more here.

Yoga Moves: Incorporating yoga into your therapy routine or your classroom movement breaks has the benefits of increasing focus, concentration, working memory, body awareness, executive function and self-regulation.

These yoga cards can be hung on the wall of a therapy room, sensory room, or classroom and they can be used as cards you can pull out for a yoga breaks.  The cards include visual pictures and do not include written descriptions to complete the poses.  FIND OUT MORE.

Motor Overflow in Preschool Children

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Fine Motor Skills Linked to Numerical Skill Development

Fine Motor Skills Linked to Numerical Skill DevelopmentFine Motor Skills Linked to Numerical Skill Development

When you walk into any preschool classroom, you will observe children using their fingers to count.  Finger counting helps children to represent numbers and later influences the ability to complete arithmetic problems.  The ability to count usually develops side by side with fine motor skill development.  Many times, when children first start to learn arithmetic it is finger-based.  Previous research indicated links between fine motor skills in kindergarten and concurrent or later mathematical development.  Perceptual and Motor Skills published research to investigate whether the link between fine motor skills and numerical skills in preschoolers is from the involvement of finger representations in early mathematics.

The research study included 81 preschool children who were evaluated for fine motor skills and numerical tasks using receptive vocabulary and chronological age as control measures.  The fine motor skills that were assessed was pegboard task, bead stringing and block turning.  Numerical tasks were assessed using non-finger based (children were not allowed to count with their fingers) and finger-based (children were prompted to use their fingers).  The results indicated the following:

  • a positive and strong correlation between virtually all fine motor skills and numerical skills.
  • only age and finger-based numerical skills were significantly related to fine motor skills.
  • fine motor skills, independent of age and receptive vocabulary, contributed significantly to all numerical skill measures.
  • the fine motor skill link appeared strongest with finger-based numerical skills.
  • age, but not receptive vocabulary, also appeared to be a significant predictor of numerical skills generally and of nonfinger-based numerical skills.
  • age was not a significant predictor of finger-based numerical skills.

The researchers discussed that preschool children with greater fine motor skills are better able to represent numbers with fingers which links to better performance on finger-counting and finger arithmetic tasks.

Reference: Suggate, S., Stoeger, H., & Fischer, U. (2017). Finger-Based Numerical Skills Link Fine Motor Skills to Numerical Development in Preschoolers. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 0031512517727405.

Check out these products to help preschoolers with fine motor skill development:

Hands First for Learning Fine Motor Curriculum and Preschool Units

Fantastic Fingers® Fine Motor Program

Fine Motor Breaks

Fine Motor Skills Linked to Numerical Skill Development




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