Young children with developmental disabilities (DDs) experience motor skill deficits compared to their peers without disabilities. Even though parents play an important role in developing their children’s motor skills, it has not been widely studied how parental behaviors influence motor skill development in young children with DDs. Therefore, the current study has two main purposes: (a) to examine early motor skill development of preschool aged children (3–5 years) with DDs longitudinally over a two-year period and (b) to longitudinally examine the relationship between parental behaviors and the motor skill development of young children with DDs. Fundamental motor skills (locomotor and object control skills) in 64 young children with DDs and their parent’s behavior was measured at five time points when children were between the ages of three and five years. Multilevel modeling was used to examine motor skill progression in young children with DDs and to evaluate the longitudinal relationship between parenting behaviors and motor skill development in young children with DDs. Findings indicated that young children with DDs develop their motor skills in a non-linear fashion across two years. Young children with DDs who have parents with one standard deviation higher (+ SD) in the positive parental behavior than average showed a statistically significant linear increase in the standard scores of locomotor and object-control skills with age (b = 0.27, p = 0.01; b = 0.22, p < 0.01, respectively). This study highlights the importance of positive parenting behaviors in regard to promoting motor skills in young children with DDs.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Ulrich DA, Sanford CB. Test of gross motor development : examiner’s manual. 2nd ed. Austin, Tex. (8700 Shoal Creek Blvd., Austin 78757) : Pro-Ed; 2000. Available from: https://trove.nla.gov.au/version/41517823. Accessed 19 Jan 2018
Lloyd M, Saunders TJ, Bremer E, Tremblay MS (2014) Long-term importance of fundamental motor skills: a 20-year follow-up study. Adapt Phys Act Q 31(1):67–78
Stodden D, Goodway J (2007) The dynamic association between motor skill development and physical activity. J Phys Educ Recreat Dance 1(78):1–58
Hands B (2008) Changes in motor skill and fitness measures among children with high and low motor competence: a five-year longitudinal study. J Sci Med Sport 11(2):155–162
Barnett LM, Salmon J, Hesketh KD (2016) More active pre-school children have better motor competence at school starting age: an observational cohort study. BMC Public Health 16(1):1–8
Bellows LL, Davies PL, Courtney JB, Gavin WJ, Johnson SL, Boles RE (2017) Motor skill development in low-income, at-risk preschoolers: a community-based longitudinal intervention study. J Sci Med Sport 20(11):997–1002
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. Physical activity and health. 2015. Accessed http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm
Barkley RA (2014) Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: a handbook for diagnosis and treatment. Guilford Publications, New York
Hartman E, Houwen S, Scherder E, Visscher C (2010) On the relationship between motor performance and executive functioning in children with intellectual disabilities: motor and executive functioning in children with ID. J Intellect Disabil Res 54(5):468–477
Liu T, Hamilton M, Davis L, ElGarhy S (2014) Gross motor performance by children with autism spectrum disorder and typically developing children on TGMD-2. J Child Adolesc Behav. https://doi.org/10.4172/2375-4494.1000123
Whyatt CP, Craig CM (2012) Motor skills in children aged 7–10 years, diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. J Autism Dev Disord 42(9):1799–1809
Visscher C, Houwen S, Scherder EJA, Moolenaar B, Hartman E (2007) Motor profile of children with developmental speech and language disorders. Pediatrics 120(1):e158–e163
Iuzzini-Seigel J (2021) Procedural learning, grammar, and motor skills in children with childhood apraxia of speech, speech sound disorder, and typically developing speech. J Speech Lang Hear Res 64(4):1081–1103
Lloyd M, MacDonald M, Lord C (2013) Motor skills of toddlers with autism spectrum disorders. Autism 17(2):133–146
Barnett LM, van Beurden E, Morgan PJ, Brooks LO, Beard JR (2010) Gender differences in motor skill proficiency from childhood to adolescence: a longitudinal study. Res Q Exerc Sport 81(2):162–170
Goodway JD, Robinson LE, Crowe H (2010) Gender differences in fundamental motor skill development in disadvantaged preschoolers from two geographical regions. Res Q Exerc Sport 81(1):17–24
Reed ES, Brill B (1996) The primacy of action in development. In: Latash ML, Turvey MT (eds) Dexterity and its development. Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah, pp 431–451
Bindman SW, Skibbe LE, Hindman AH, Aram D, Morrison FJ (2014) Parental writing support and preschoolers’ early literacy, language, and fine motor skills. Early Child Res Q 29(4):614–624
Bauder D, Bauder D. Determining children’s assistive technology needs through video conferencing assessments. In: Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference. Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2013. p. 4302–4308. https://www.learntechlib.org/p/48801/. Accessed 4 Nov 2016
Staples KL, Reid G (2010) Fundamental movement skills and autism spectrum disorders. J Autism Dev Disord 40(2):209–217
Hardy LL, King L, Farrell L, Macniven R, Howlett S (2010) Fundamental movement skills among Australian preschool children. J Sci Med Sport 13(5):503–508
Dishion TJ, Hogansen J, Winter C, Jabson J. The coder impressions inventory. Unpublished manual, Child and Family Center, Eugene, OR; 2004
Graham JW (2009) Missing data analysis: making it work in the real world. Annu Rev Psychol 60(1):549–576
Venetsanou F, Kambas A (2010) Environmental factors affecting preschoolers’ motor development. Early Child Educ J 37(4):319–327
Ozmun JC, Gallahue DL (2016) Motor development. Adapt Phys Educ Sport E 6:375
Clark J (1994) Motor development. Encyclopedia of human behavior, vol 3. Academic Press, San Diego, pp 245–255
Stodden DF, Goodway JD, Langendorfer SJ, Roberton MA, Rudisill ME, Garcia C, Garcia LE (2008) A developmental perspective on the role of motor skill competence in physical activity: an emergent relationship. Quest 60(2):290–306
Gallahue DL, Ozmun JC, Goodway JD (2012) Development of fundamental movement: manipulation skills. Underst Motor Dev 2012:194
Peyre H, Albaret J-M, Hoertel N, Melchior M, Forhan A, Taine M, Heude B, De Agostini M, Galéra C, Ramus F (2019) Developmental trajectories of motor skills during the preschool period. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 28(11):1461–1474
Berkeley SL, Zittel LL, Pitney LV, Nichols SE (2001) Locomotor and object control skills of children diagnosed with autism. Adapt Phys Act Q 18(4):405–416
Rubin DA, Wilson KS, Wiersma LD, Weiss JW, Rose DJ (2014) Rationale and design of active play @ home: a parent-led physical activity program for children with and without disability. BMC Pediatr 14(1):1–11
Wasenius NS, Grattan KP, Harvey ALJ, Naylor P-J, Goldfield GS, Adamo KB (2017) The effect of a physical activity intervention on preschoolers’ fundamental motor skills—a cluster RCT. J Sci Med Sport 21:714
Zask A, Kaye Adams J, Owen Brooks L, Frances HD (2012) Tooty fruity vegie: an obesity prevention intervention evaluation in Australian preschools. Health Promot J Austr 23(1):10–15
Ku B, MacDonald M, Hatfield B, Gunter KB (2020) Parental influences on parent-reported motor skills in young children with developmental disabilities. Disabil Health J 13:100910
Naber FBA, Poslawsky IE, van IJzendoorn MH, van Engeland H, Bakermans-Kranenburg MJ (2013) Brief report: oxytocin enhances paternal sensitivity to a child with autism: a double-blind within-subject experiment with intranasally administered oxytocin. J Autism Dev Disord 43(1):224–229
Goodway JD, Branta CF (2003) Influence of a motor skill intervention on fundamental motor skill development of disadvantaged preschool children. Res Q Exerc Sport 74(1):36–46
Robinson LE, Goodway JD (2009) Instructional climates in preschool children who are at-risk. Part I: object-control skill development. Res Q Exerc Sport 80(3):533–542
Valentini NC, Rudisill ME (2004) An inclusive mastery climate intervention and the motor skill development of children with and without disabilities. Adapt Phys Act Q 21(4):330–347
Belsky J (1984) The determinants of parenting: a process model. Child Dev 55(1):83–96
Ku B, Heinonen GA, MacDonald M, Hatfield B (2019) An inquiry into how parents of children with autism spectrum disorder interact with their children in a motor skill-based play setting. Res Dev Disabil 94:103494. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ridd.2019.103494
This research was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (R01 HD059838) awarded to the fourth author.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
See Table 7
About this article
Cite this article
Ku, B., Stinson, J.D., MacDonald, M. et al. Parental Behavior Influences on Motor Skill Development in Young Children with Developmental Disabilities: A Two-Year Longitudinal Study. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10578-021-01263-x
- Fundamental motor skills
- Parental behaviors
- Developmental disability
- Parent–child interaction