|dc.description.abstract||Sensory-motor difficulties are usually considered as a part of larger pictures, such as specific learning disabilities, autism, ADD, ADHD, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, etc. However, many researchers argue that these difficulties can emerge in child’s development on their own as well, and can be identified from the age of 3 and ½ years of the child. However, the official diagnostic manuals have so far accepted only the difficulties in motor areas, referring to e.g. developmental dyspraxia, developmental coordination disorder, or specific developmental disorder of motor function. There are researchers who argue that motor and sensory functioning and development influence each other and consequently other areas as well. Nevertheless, the children with such difficulties need to be identified, regardless what “diagnose” would they get. The diagnosis is not supposed to be a goal, but the help to optimize child’s development already in early years.
This way, focusing on the identification of children with sensory-motor difficulties, I chose to contact kindergarten teachers to get answers to my research questions: Are children (from 3 and ½ to 6 years old) with sensory-motor difficulties recognized in kindergarten settings? How are they recognized? How are kindergarten teachers concerned about sensory-motor difficulties in a preschool child? Are kindergarten teachers generally more concerned about a particular type of sensory-motor difficulties? Do kindergartens have any special routines for screening/assessment children for any sensory-motor skills or difficulties?
The survey design of this research used questionnaire research technique, yielding both quantitative and qualitative data. The research was conducted in the capital city of Norway, Oslo. The sample of 31 kindergarten teachers was obtained and analyzed, using statistical measurements.
The collected data shown that the participating kindergarten teachers were generally most concerned about child’s anxiety, lack of balance, oversensitivity to touch, noise, temperatures, tastes, hyposensitivity to pain, problems with articulation, orientation, or clumsiness in fine motor activities. They would follow up the children with such difficulties, consult with parents and cooperate with specialists for further assessment. If the child tended to chew on everything (e.g. toys, blankets), the majority of participating kindergarten teachers would think it might be a little problem now, but still thought the child can “grow out of it”. And if the child had aversion to certain physical activities (e.g. jumping, walking stairs, hopping, swinging, spinning, sliding), the majority of these kindergarten teachers would think it was a problem, but didn’t think someone can do anything about it. They would most likely work with the child on this issue in their kindergarten, but they would not refer the child for further assessment.
The majority of participating kindergarten teachers has some kind of tests/ assessment methods for gross motor skills, fine motor skills, balance, speech – articulation and anxiety issues. Tests/ assessment routines for posture and sensitivity were less frequent among participating kindergartens. As I explained in data analysis, these data might be biased, with one exception, speech – articulation category. It seemed the majority of participants have a test called TRAS.
Unfortunately, these results are not significant enough to be drawn to entire population of kindergarten teachers in Norway and therefore the main research questions can’t be answered.
Keywords: sensory-motor difficulties, specific developmental disorder of motor function, developmental coordination disorder, developmental dyspraxia, neuro-developmental delay, sensory processing disorder, sensory integration disorder, kindergarten teachers||eng