Term of Art: Perceptual-Motor Skills

“perceptual-motor skills: In everything children do, the look, listen, and touch, and then make a perceptual judgment about the things they see, hear, and feel. It is this perceptual judgment that dictates the way they react to their world (what is seen, what is heard, what is felt). When perceptions are well developed, then reactions are more likely to be appropriate for each given situation.

Thre are six perceptual systems that take in information from the environment: visual (light), auditory (sound), tactile (touch), kinesthetic (muscle feeling). Olfactory (smell), and gustatory (taste). Perceptual-motor skills or behavior generally will involve perceptual input through more than one of these systems, and a complex sequence of motor activities.

Motor learning is an important part of childhood development. There is a natural developmental sequence of perceptual motor skill development, beginning very early with skills such as rolling over and sitting up, and proceeding to activities such as crawling, standing, walking, running, and jumping. As development progresses, the requirements for integration of perceptual systems and motor behavior grow more steadily subtle and complex.

Delays in the development of age-appropriate perceptual-motor skills may have significant and sometimes pervasive effects on school and social performance.”

Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

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