Background/Objective: Researchers have identified a high incidence of motor difficulties among children with language difficulties and attempted to elucidate the relationship between these problems. The research reported here explored: a) the incidence of motor problems among children with language difficulties; b) differences in motor performance between children with and without language difficulties; and c) which motor tasks were good predictors of language performance.
Methods: Data were obtained from a subsample of the longitudinal Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study, collected at 10 years. The subsample included 836 boys and 769 girls. The total language score (TLS) of the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (3rd ed.) (CELF) was used to identify a group with (TLS < 85) and a group without language difficulty (TLS >85). The neurodevelopmental index (NDI) from the McCarron Assessment of Neuromuscular Development battery measured motor performance. The five fine motor and five gross motor tasks, included in the battery, were used in 3 regression models to identify which motor tasks were the best predictors of CELF expressive, receptive and total language scores.
Results: The motor performance of the group with language difficulties was significantly lower (p< .001) than the group without language difficulties. Thirty nine percent (n = 144) of the group with language difficulties were identified as having motor difficulties (NDI < 85). The regression models were similar for all language variables and explained approximately 10% of the variance. Three manipulative tasks and a dynamic balance task made significant contributions to the prediction of the language scores.
Conclusion: This research provides further evidence of the high incidence of motor problems among children with language difficulties. The relationship between receptive and expressive language scores and motor performance reinforce the very general relationship between motor and language variables.
Larkin, D., Hands, B., Parker, H., Sloan, N., & Kendall, G. (2007). Co-occurrence of language and motor difficulties in children. Paper presented at the 9th Nordic Meeting in Neuropsychology - On Speaking Terms with the Brain: Mechanisms and Disorders of Communication. Göteborg, Sweden, 19-22 August.