Manual competence in clumsy children
This thesis starts by addressing some complex issues concerning the classification of children called 'Clumsy'. The focus then turns more specifically to manual competence in Clumsy children, which is investigated using both a descriptive and an experimental approach. In both cases performance on two different groups of manual tasks is examined: drawing tasks and object manipulation tasks. Within the descriptive approach, both cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses are undertaken. Firstly, overall differences in the performance between Clumsy children and age-matched controls are described. More detailed examinations are then made of different aspects of movement quality using observation checklists. The main findings are that Clumsy children perform more poorly than controls on simple manual tasks. Their performance is worse, not only in terms of motor control, but also in relation to spatial characteristics and more global factors. It was also found that the movement characteristics of Clumsy children vary at different ages and that, although there are general improvements with age, the motor aspects of performance seem resistant to change. Within the experimental approach the role of vision in performance is studied in two different ways. Using a correlational approach, one study suggests that although Clumsy children have visual perceptual deficits, it is not clear how these are related to their motor difficulties. Using a different methodology, another study involves the manipulation of visual information to produce different perceptual conditions. The main finding is that Clumsy children (and particularly the younger ones) are affected more by a lack of visual information than controls. It is suggested that the role of vision in Clumsy children may differ at different ages but that generally it seems that they depend heavily on visual information and that they are poor at making sense of kinaesthetic input.