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Research shows a way forward for child development tests

5 July 2005 - 9:10am

New physiotherapy research published today (11 November) highlights the potential for a simple, low-cost test to screen children for developmental problems such as dyspraxia before they start school.

A study of three-year-olds, published in the journal Physiotherapy, compared the children's ability to perform midline crossing tasks, for example crossing their hands across their body to touch opposite shoulders or opposite ears, with their performance in a formal screening test designed to pick up developmental problems. The results showed that children with difficulties tended to perform badly on both the developmental test and the midline crossing tests.

Physiotherapist Dorothy Michell, co-author of the research with psychologist Neil Wood, says:

"According to our research, children's ability to perform midline crossing movements is predictive of how well they will do in formal screening tests. This simple test could, therefore, help professionals working with young children pick up potential problems. Nursery school staff, for example, could easily incorporate these movements into a group game and refer any children who are having difficulties for expert help."

Sixty three-year old children from four nursery schools, including one for children with special needs, took part in the study and were first assessed using a recognised screening test designed to pick up developmental problems in pre-school children.

Those who scored less well than to be expected for their age were included in the study group and the other children made up a control group.

Research shows a way forward for child development tests

The children's ability to do five midline crossing tasks, after being shown what to do, was then scored by physiotherapists.

Children were asked to cross one ankle over the other ankle, cross one knee over the other knee, cross hands over the body to touch opposite knees, cross hands across the body to touch opposite shoulders and cross hands across the body to touch opposite ears.

The results showed that children in the study group found the tasks significantly more difficult than those in the control group.

Ends

Notes to editors

The screening test used to select the control and study groups was the Miller "First Step" Screening Test for Evaluating Pre-Schoolers.

Physiotherapy is the fourth largest health profession in the country and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) is the professional, educational and trade union body for the UK's 35,000 chartered physiotherapists, physiotherapy students and assistants.

For more information, please contact the CSP press office on 020 7306 6616 / 28

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