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Sara Magallón Recalde
Associate Professor of the School of Education and Psychology
In the child population, motor skills are associated with socioemotionaldevelopment , academic performance and the level of physical activity. When the latter is low, it is related to sedentary lifestyles and obesity.
Currently, many children have low levels of physical activity and motor difficulties. In addition, the covid-19 pandemic has resulted in fewer opportunities for children to develop motor skills.
How and when to detect a deficit
Currently, in Spain, children with deficient motor skills are only identified if their parents detect a problem and consult a pediatrician who refers them to a specialist. It has been shown that parents with low socioeconomic status are less likely to follow this process.
On the other hand, waiting times for appointments with specialists are very long and the cost of private consultations is very high.
There is, therefore, a need for solutions that allow a systematic and efficient assessment of the motor skills of a larger issue of children, with greater regularity and with less dependence on the health system.
The role of the school
Schools are an ideal place to carry out this subject of procedures, since children spend a large part of the day there and because Education Physics is an ideal context for assessing motor skills. The possibility of exploring these skills in schools would allow a "universal" screening and, therefore, the identification of children with difficulties in this area.
Recently, in England, a valid tool has been developed for the assessment of motor skills, called FUNMOVES, for children from 5 to 11 years of age. It consists of the evaluation of these skills in a group setting in an hour of Education Physical Education, with the teachers themselves, after a training, carrying out the assessment. Its cost is minimal, since the activities consist of running, jumping, throwing sacks, hitting sacks with the foot and keeping balance, and only require materials that all schools usually have.
Application in Spain and other countries
In Spain, there are no validated instruments for the assessment group assessment of motor skills in the school context. Our team at research is currently validating FUNMOVES in the Navarre school population.
One of the objectives pursued is to contribute to the detection of a highly unknown and therefore under-diagnosed disorder: the development coordination disorder / procedural learning disorder (PLD).
This pathology implies marked motor clumsiness, which has a significant influence on daily life in the family, school and social environments. For example, poor handwriting due to a fine motor deficit, spending a lot of time on self-care tasks such as dressing, due to slowness; fail Education Physical, being teased in the playground at high school or in the park due to lack of coordination, etc. These difficulties are also frequently associated with attention deficit, problems in reading and spatial visual integration.
Early detection is vital for the prognosis of people with neurodevelopmental disorders. Our long-term goal deadline is the massive diffusion of this method of assessment, free of charge and free of charge, to all the autonomous communities; in this way, it could have an impact on the community of affected people at a state level. The train to the teachers to be able to evaluate the motor skills of their students, quickly and in a group and in a natural context, that of the physical Education , will contribute to the "universal" character assessment of these skills.
This would increase the issue of schoolchildren diagnosed with BDD and speed up the diagnostic process, unloading the issue of patients from the specialists, which could result in economic benefits for the state health services; and what is more important, it would reduce the under-diagnosis of BDD with all that this implies.
The diagnosed children will be able to receive the support and assistance they require, from an exhaustive assessment of the cognitive profile , to know their strengths and weaknesses, to the design of the reinforcement guidelines that are needed. For example, curricular adaptations at high school and subsidized therapies outside the school context.
Each child identified with FUNMOVES, with probable BDD, will be evaluated individually and exhaustively in order to corroborate or rule out this pathology. And we will provide intervention guidelines for families and schools, through a written report , for parents and guardians, and we will detail how these skills can be trained, through formal activities and games.