Early motor skills predict the developmental trajectory of problem solving in young children with motor delays
INTRODUCTION: The purpose of this study was to quantify the relationship between early motor skills, such as sitting, and the development of problem-solving skills in children with motor delays. METHODS: Motor (Gross Motor Function Measure) and problem-solving (Assessment of Problem-Solving in Play) skills of 134 children 7-16 months adjusted age at baseline with motor delay were assessed up to 5 times over 12 months. Participants were divided into two groups: mild and significant motor delay. RESULTS: Motor and problem-solving scores had large (r's = 0.53-0.67) and statistically significant (p's > .01) correlations at all visits. Baseline motor skills predicted baseline and change in problem solving over time. The associations between motor and problem-solving skills were moderated by level of motor delay, with children with significant motor delay generally having stronger associations compared to those with mild motor delay. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that overall baseline motor skills are predictive of current and future development of problem-solving skills and that children with significant motor delay have a stronger and more stable association between motor and problem-solving skills over time. This highlights that children with motor delays are at risk for secondary delays in problem solving, and this risk increases as degree of motor delay increases.