Social-Emotional Problems and Motor Impairment

Excerpt from Jan P. Piek, Nicholas C. Barrett, Leigh M. Smith, Daniela Rigoli and Natalie
Gasson’s “Do motor skills in infancy and early childhood predict anxious and depressive
symptomatology at school age?”

Research has identified a relationship
between social-emotional problems
and motor impairment in both
preschool and school-age children.
The aim of the current study was to
determine how motor performance in
infancy and early childhood is related to
levels of anxious and depressive
symptomatology at age 6–12 years. Fifty
participants were assessed by their
parents 11 times between the ages of 4
months and 4 years using the Ages and
Stages Questionnaire (ASQ), and once
between the age of 6 and 12 years using
the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). Te
ASQ scores were

used to obtain the stability (variance)
of fine and gross motor performance.
Once gestational age, sex and age of
testing were taken into account, the
stability of gross motor scores
predicted both the anxiety/
depression measure and the anxious
score from the CBCL. It appears that
how variable a young child’s gross
motor development is from 4 months
to 4 years predicts the level of
anxious/depressive symptoms at
school age. These findings may
assist in the early identification of
children at risk of anxiety disorders
and depression at school age.

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