Assessing the Perceptual-Motor Interaction in Developmentally Disabled and Nonhandicapped Children

in Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly

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Allen W. Burton University of Minnesota

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The purpose of this experiment was to design a gross-motor task that would quantify the perceptual sensitivity of developmentally disabled (DD) and nonhandicapped (NH) children to the relationship between their personal constraints and the constraints in the environment in a movement context. Three groups of subjects participated in this experiment: 17 DD preschoolers, 25 NH kindergarteners, and 27 NH fourth-graders. The subjects moved through a sequence of four high-jump barriers six times as quickly as possible, negotiating the barriers any way they wanted. They also went through the course without the barriers as quickly as possible to establish a baseline movement time. Relative to their own baseline, the fourth-graders moved through the obstacle course significantly faster than the kindergarteners, while the kindergarteners went through the course significantly faster than the DD preschoolers. In addition, significant differences were found between the NH kindergarteners and DD preschoolers for two sets of perceptual variables: percent error and the slopes of two identified transitions from one mode of locomotion to another. These results and further analyses showed that at least some of the movement problems experienced by DD children can be attributed to perceptual difficulties, and established the potential of the present methodology in examining perceptual sensitivity in a movement context in DD and NH children.

Request reprints from Allen W. Burton, School of Physical Education and Recreation, 1900 University Ave. S.E., University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455.

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