There are three theories of motor development maturation, information processing and the dynamic theory. The maturation theory focuses on the neurological factors that affect the development of motor skills, and is the term used to describe the innate sequences of physical changes (Macintyre and McVitty, 2004, pp 57). Whereas the information processing theory focuses on belief that thinking is information processing through senses (Cech and Martin 2005) Within this theory it talks about the five sensory system; Tactile Proprioceptive, Vestibular, Auditory and Visual senses and how they relate to motor development.
The Dynamic theory focuses on the nervous system interacting with other systems to achieve movement. This theory also focuses on task (self desire), individual (motor skill acquisition) and environment (factors affecting acquiring a new skill. Theorists: My main focus on this paper is the theory of Maturation. Arnold Gesell (1929) devised theories of childhood and adolescence based on evolutionary ideas of genetic influences. Gesell found that the growing child’s behaviour seems to follow a set developmental pattern.
He described in detail the ways in which behaviour changes with age. Gesell believed that differences among people result more from heredity than from environment. Gesell proposed that development follows an orderly sequence and that the biological and evolutionary history of the species decides the order of this sequence. Maturation supports the idea that each child’s unique genetic and biological makeup determines the rate of development regardless of other potential environmental influences. Gesell also states that the general direction of motor development is from head to toe.
Gesell’s classic study involved twin girls, both given training for motor skills but one given training for longer than the other. After the study it was seen there was no difference in the age each child acquired skills, in which this states development happened genetically not dependent on training given. Suggesting physical development at least is largely pre-programmed and not dependent on adult influences. Theory major points: Within the Maturation theory there are neurological factors affecting motor development. The brain and nervous system, primitive/primary reflexes and postural reflexes.
Within the brain there are millions of nerve cells, which are connected to each other by synapses. Neurons form specialized connections called “synapses” and produce special chemicals called neurotransmitters that are released at the synapse. Synapes are pathways allowing all areas of the brain to communicate with each other. Neurotransmitters allow electrical impulse to travel across the synapse (Hawley, 1998b p 19). A young child’s brain has twice as many synapse pathways as an adult brain. The types of activities a baby has with objects and people stimulate these neurons.
This allows the neurons to make important connections in the brain. Everyday activities determine how these connections are formed though if unused the pathways become lost, therefore it is important to provide interesting activities to stimulate the development of the child’s brain. The brain stem is attached to the spinal cord and sends information between parts of the brain and the body (CNS), it regulates bodily functions that integrate and coordinate complex sensory, motor, and autonomic functions. It is made up of three areas; midbrain, pons and medulla.
The Pons act as a bridge between the medulla and midbrain. The midbrain contains muscle supply controlling eye movements the medulla is located at the base of the brain stem controlling heartbeat, blood pressure and breathing. Without the brainstem the human body would not be able to function. The cerebellum also plays an important role as it controls the Coordination of voluntary movement balance and equilibrium and some memory for reflex motor acts. If this region is damaged it will affect motor development, loss of ability to coordinate fine movements, ability to walk and grasping objects.
The cerebellum is particularly vulnerable to developmental abnormalities (Castellanos et al. , 2002), (Courchesne et al. , 2005), (Messerschmidt et al. , 2005), (Penn, 2006), (Seidman et al. , 2005 ) and (Valera et al. , 2007). The primary/primitive reflexes that are involved in the Maturation theory. Primitive reflexes develop in the womb, are present in birth at full term neonate. (Gottard, 2009, p32) When the baby leaves the womb it has the primitive reflexes that are needed for survival. Primitive reflexes are involuntary responses to a specific stimuli.
They are utomatic and stereotyped movements, however they should only have a limited lifespan and most become inhibited by the time the infant reaches toddlerhood. (Goddard, 2002, pp 1). The Moro reflex is a sudden reaction made in response to a sudden unexpected occurrence. It is fully present at birth and develops after growing for nine weeks in the uterus, it should be inhibited by four months and replaced by the adult ‘’startle’’ reflex. (Gottard 2002, pg 4) The Moro reflex can be triggered by sudden movement or change of light (visual), noise (auditory), stimulation of labyrinth (vestibular) or paid, sudden change of temperature (tactile).
An infants response to the Moro reflex is throwing their arms and hands outwards with an intake of breathe followed by freezing for a moment then retuning back to the body. This action can also be accompanied by crying. This reaction results in an increase in rate of breathing and heart rate, adrenaline rush, increased blood pressure and flushing of the skin. (Gottard 2009. Pp 56) If the Moro reflex is retained active between the first four to six months of prenatal life it is associated with hyperstensivity to the vestibular stimulation and other expected forms of sensory arousal causing a child to over react to particular stimuli.
The Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR) is also a primary/primitive reflex. It is active by turning the head to one side and as the head turns the arm and leg on the same side will extend and the opposite will be bent. While in the womb the ATNR helps the baby to move around, turn and adjust to gain comfort. It is inhibited between four to six months of prenatal life and is present at birth.
The ATNR has different functions, it facilitates movements, may assist in the birth process, early hand eye co-ordination and ensures a free airway when placed in prone position by turning the head to one side (Gottard 2009, pp 85) Asymmetrical tonic neck reflex (ATNR) should have completed it’s task by six months of age. If the (ATNR) is not inhibited it will interfere with the child’s motor abilities such as rolling over, commando crawling, control of upright balance when the head is turned, the ability to cross the midline and eye hand coordination. The tonic labyrinthine reflex (TLR) is another primary/primitive reflex.
It is a reflex that originates in inner ear. The (TLR) is extracted by movement of the head backwards or forwards, above or below the point of the spinal column. Leaning forward emerges in the uterus (foetal position) and inhibits around four months where as leaning backwards begins at birth and begins inhibition until six weeks continuing to three years. The functions of the tonic labyrinthine reflex (TLR) are as head moves muscle tone changed throughout the body, assist baby to cope with gravity when emerging into the environment and backwards reflex action allows an extended body to proceed.
If The tonic labyrinthine reflex (TLR) is retained after the three years it shows immaturity in the functioning of the vestibular system, which will affect the eyes. It will affect muscle tone, which will affect crawling or creeping and in long term may affect balance, visual perception and posture (Goddard 2009, pp Postural reflexes emerge after birth and take up to three and a half years to be fully developed. Postural reflexes should be developed when a child reaches school age and no signs of primitive reflexes should be evident.
Postural reflexes assist infants to automatically maintain posture in changing environments, it the maintence of balance, stability and flexibility (Goddard 2002) The Symmetrical tonic neck reflex (STNR) is a postural reflex. It emerges at six to nine months and inhibits by nine to eleven months by rocking on arms and legs. The Symmetrical tonic neck reflex (STNR) is when an infant is on hands and knee position to push itself up off the ground in preparation for creeping on hands and knees.
When the baby lifts its head up there’s an extension in the upper limbs accompanied by flexion in the lower limbs (Gottard 2009, pps 89-90). The functions of the (STNR) are to defy gravity and move from stomach to hands and knees, assist in the inhibition to (TLR), assist in the sequence of eye training and allow vestibular, proprioceptor and visual systems to further work together. If The Symmetrical tonic neck reflex (STNR) is not inhibited within the first year of life posture, poor control of eye and hand when head is moved forward.
Examples of theory: Activities engaged and learnt in this unit (AEB2164) to help inhibit the Moro reflex in young children was the Moro reflex erect test for vestibular activated Moro responses. During this test subjects stood still with their feet together and fell backwards, with a partner standing behind them. In the second test subjects held their arms bend at a 45 degree angle, looking at the ceiling with their eyes closed. If a child opens their arms and takes a gasp when falling backwards or standing with their head to the ceiling and egin to lose balance they still have strong Moro activity.
Within practical placement at St Pauls Primary school I led the prep class. During a warm up activity I wanted to help inhibit the Moro reflex in young children. I asked the children to spin around six times to the left followed by six times to the right, children who felt left dizzy and lost balance still inhibit the Moro reflex An activity learned within this unit (AEB2164) to inhibit the Asymmetrical tonic neck reflex (ATNR) was activities to cross the midline of the body.
I used an activity learnt from the unit within my Kinda Kinder practical placement. At the end of the session we sang some songs the children are familiar with. To gain the children attention I began by singing ‘’everybody do this’’. I began by tapping my knees and shoulder on one side of my body (lateral) then crossed over to the opposite side (bilateral). I observed that some children were not able to cross the midline and continued to tap the same side of their body. While others could confidently cross the mid line that had inhibited the (ATNR) reflex.
By practicing these activities it will help children to inhibit the (ATNR) To inhibit the tonic labyrinthine reflex (TLR) I learnt an activity within the subject unit (AEB2164). This activity consisted of rocking backwards and forwards and side to side in the featal position. By doing this you can see whether the subject has inhibited the (TLR). If subjects still have the reflex you need to keep using the reflex to help lose the reflex.
To inhibit the Symmetrical tonic neck reflex (STNR) An immature STNR Child will find it hard to sit at a desk as they will either be slouched when sitting or curl up when sitting at a desk. n activity could be implemented by moving on the tummy and crawling on hands and knees and when practiced this may help inhibit the (STNR). Strengths and weaknesses: A major strength of maturation is that it supports the idea that each child’s unique genetic and biological makeup determines the rate of development regardless of other potential environmental influences. It is believed that development has a biological process that occurs in predictable stages over time (linear process).
It looks at the wonderful effects of natural growth and allowed children to be immature as maturity comes later in life. It gave parents and educators a guide by which they could find the “norm” or average behavior for each age group and is predictive of success or failure in later life. Although maturation has many strengths it does not relate to a child’s learning, injury, illness or other life experiences and rules out all evidence of the environment in comparison to dynamic where there is a large influence on the environment rather than the nervous system.
In the dynamic theory the nervous system is considered part of the developing motor system it focuses on what’s happening now and its main focus is on the task, individual and environment rather than the brain and nervous system. Within Maturation there is too much emphasis on maturation and not learning this can be seen as a weakness whereas Information processing believe that thinking is information processing and by thinking through the five senses children learn to develop their motor skills.
This theory recognizes the ability for a person to control what information is processed and the changes and developments of these abilities. It helps to understand what difficulties a child may have and teachers can plan accordingly if the teacher is knowledgeable on information processing. Conclusion: After conducting further research into the Maturation theory I have found the importance of both neurological and physical development in relation to motor development.
I have a better understanding of primitive and postural reflexes and their importance of the motor development of a human to have success later in life. Nevertheless I have also found some negative aspects of the maturation theory as it does not focus on the environment and difficulties within a child. In theory I believe that using all three theories of development, Maturation, Information processing and the Dynamic theory will help support and develop physical and motor development of each child.
January 9, 2018
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