Motor proficiency of 6- to 9-year-old children with speech and language problems
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AIM: This study compared the gross motor skills of school-age children (mean age 7 y 8 mo, range 6-9 y) with developmental speech and language disorders (DSLDs; n=105; 76 males, 29 females) and typically developing children (n=105; 76 males, 29 females). The relationship between the performance parameters and the children's age was investigated as well as the role of the type of DSLD. METHOD: The children with DSLDs were classified by their schools' speech and language therapists into three subgroups: children with speech disorders (n=16), those with language disorders (n=41), or those with both (n=48). They were tested with the Test of Gross Motor Development, 2nd edition. RESULTS: Compared with their typically developing peers, all three DSLD subgroups scored lower on the locomotor (all p values<0.001) and object control sub tests (all p values<0.001). Significant performance differences were found between the three types of DSLD (all p values<0.01) where the children with language disorders only performed better. Older children performed better than the younger ones (plocomotor=0.029, pobject control<0.001), but the magnitude of differences between the children with DSLDs and their peers did not change with increasing age. INTERPRETATION: Children with DSLDs have poor gross motor skills. Although the performance of children with DSLDs improves with increasing age, it lags behind that of typically developing children. The present results emphasize the importance of early diagnosis and intervention for children with motor deficits.
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