Motor problems in children with severe emotional and behavioural difficulties

Bronagh Taylor, Donncha Hanna, Martin McPhillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Abstract
Background
There is growing evidence that children with motor difficulties are at risk of psychosocial problems, and vice versa. However, it is not clear how far different aspects of motor function are predictive of psychosocial well-being in the context of other powerful factors, such as family-upset, that are known to affect psychosocial development.
Aims
To investigate the role of basic motor skills and primary reflex persistence in young children with severe emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD).
Sample
From a total sample of 225 children, 3 groups were selected; children excluded from school (severe EBD) (n=29), a male comparison group (n=38) and a female comparison group (n=45). The groups were matched (at group level) on age, IQ and level of social disadvantage.
Method
All of the selected children completed a range of standardised motor, cognitive, social and behavioural measures, as well as a clinical protocol for primary reflex persistence.
Results
Children with severe EBD had significant levels of motor difficulties, primary reflex persistence and family-upset, as well as significant literacy problems, attention deficits and raised levels of hyperactivity/impulsivity relative to the comparison groups. A hierarchical multiple regression analysis revealed that basic motor skills, primary reflex persistence, family-upset, hyperactivity and literacy were all significant predictors of psychosocial functioning.
Conclusions
The findings suggest that motor difficulties and primary reflex persistence may act as independent stressors of psychosocial functioning in children with EBD. We suggest that specific movement interventions should be adopted to complement existing provision for children at risk of psychosocial problems.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Psychology
Early online date6 Dec 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Dec 2019

Keywords

  • motor difficulties; emotional problems; psychosocial functioning; behavioural difficulties

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