This study examines gross motor coordination in children with and without learning disabilities using a dynamical systems perspective. In a dual motor task paradigm (walk/clap, gallop/clap), we measured and compared frequency and phase locking and consistency within and across trials in 12 children with learning disabilities and 12 age-matched typically developing children. In the walk/clap condition, groups differed in consistency and in entrainment (increased frequency of 4 limb coupling) over short-term practice. In the gallop/clap condition, groups differed in consistency; neither group showed entrainment. Comparisons within the LD group of participants with and without diagnosed visual-motor problems showed differences in classification, consistency, and entrainment. These results suggest that gross motor coordination tasks provide information about as well as a novel opportunity for early identification of learning disabilities.
Nancy Getchell is with the Department of Health, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences at the University of Delaware, Newark. E-mail: email@example.com. Susan McMenamin is with Disabilities Support Services at The George Washington University, Washington, DC. Jill Whitall is with the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Maryland-Baltimore.