Directionality in Down Syndrome Children: Is There a Difference?
The main disability associated with DS is a cognitive deficit which is thought to influence children’s ability to perceive process and make use of relevant information to solve problems and engage in appropriate behaviour (Carr, 1985). For a significant number of children with DS, the acquisition of motor skills is also difficult. Their rate of motor development tends to be slower than that of children who develop typically and their movements are often less coordinated and efficient (Block, 1991). The association between atypical laterality and DS has been reported several times (Groen et al, 2007). Moreover, researchers have indicated that factors like cerebral asymmetry and/or ageing, reading habits influence directionality and performance on tasks including directionality trends in whole-body movements. The present study investigates: a) DS children’s directionality trends in writing and drawing, b) their innate directional tendencies in whole body movements. Forty-eight children (24 DS and 24 typically developing children) participated in this research. All participants were between the age of 8 and 13 years and right-handed as assessed by the Briggs and Nebes (1975) Handedness Scale, without any major physical and/or motor disabilities. The children were asked first to copy specific verbal and non-verbal graphic patterns and then to perform some predefined movements, so that their preferable directionality and point of initiation could be recorded. The experimental groups demonstrated significant differences mostly in whole body movement directionality (p>.001), only in some non-verbal graphic patterns (p<.05) and their initial point (p<.05). The discussion focuses on the strong impact of schooling and writing instructions in directionality trends and also on deficiency in cerebral asymmetry of DS children. Finally, the necessity for further research in perceptuo-motor relationships of DS children’s with the education and motor development is suggested.
Keywords: Directionality, Down Syndrome, Whole Body Movement
Dr. Klio Semoglou
Instructor, Department of Primary Education, University of Western Macedonia
Dr. Anastasia Alevriadou
Assistant Professor, Department of Early Childhood Education, University of Western Madedonia - Greece