Dr.Hab., Dr.Sc.Psych., Professor A.B. Serykh1
Dr.Hab., Professor E.I. Mychko1
1Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University, Kaliningrad
Keywords: preschooler, intellectual retardation, olygophrenia, motor skill, physical development.
Background. Children of newborn-to-preschooler age with their underdeveloped intellectual capacities are known to face major problems (including potential deviations) in the motor skills building process, with the physically retarded children lagging behind their peers in crawling and walking skills. Such motor developmental retardations largely hamper the natural world cognition and spatial orientation functionality development processes.
Normally the mentally retarded children (diagnosed with debilitating illness or progressive intellectual disability) are tested with severe physical impairments manifested in the musculoskeletal functionality limitations, poor movement sequencing and control abilities, motor anxiety and excessive motility – i.e. poor coordination, inadequate movement accuracy and pacing skills. Their movements are limited in range, slow, awkward, deficient in plasticity, with particularly severe limitations in mimics and gestures (body language) and in the accuracy-intensive basic movement sequences including running, jumping, fast movement/ posture switching actions etc.
When analyzing the motor skills mastering retardations in the children diagnosed with intellectual disabilities, the researchers mention the serious difficulties they face trying to make high-accuracy, strength- and amplitude-demanding movements, being mostly unable to complete the actions due to the poor self-control abilities. The mentally retarded children are known to opt for the trial and error method in their attempts to cope with their movement difficulties and normally fail to fulfill the instructions. The motor skills mastering process will be designed on a persistent reiteration basis to help the children learn the skills [1, 6].
As argued by B.I. Pinsky, multiple repetitions in the motor skill mastering process should not be expected to immediately improve the child’s functionality on the whole. A special priority in the this process, in his opinion, shall be given to the clear goal setting and understanding in every exercise . Some researchers (R.D. Babenkova, S.Y. Yrovskiy, N.P. Vaizman, A.A. Dmitriev et al.) found that motor skills of mentally retarded children tend to improve with age, with particularly notable progress in the movement speed, synch and the spatial strength controls .
Objective of the study was to analyze benefits of a motility correction and motor skills development model for preschool children with severe intellectual retardations.
Methods and structure of the study. The new motility correction and motor skills development model was tested on a sample of 20 children with severe intellectual retardations from the Special Child Rehabilitation Center in Kaliningrad city. It should be mentioned that sets of special motor skills tests are commonly and traditionally used today to rate the motor abilities, coordination abilities and tolerance to physical workloads in mentally and physically retarded children. The sample progress in our study was tested by the following tests: fingers mobility test; graphical skills and movement accuracy L.A. Vagner test version; coordination ability testing 3x10m shuttle run test; static balancing skills test; ball handling (floor striking and throw-and-catch) tests; bending on a bench test; clinostatic test; and V.V. Gorinevskaya test.
Results and discussion. The sample was tested with significantly low test rates in every test, with the most serious retardations found in the dynamic/ static balancing, muscular coordination and movement harmonizing/ differentiating ability tests. Children with severe intellectual retardations are normally tested with serious backlogs in the physical development rates versus their healthy peers – due to the mental development retardations further aggravated by their socializing incapacities (associated with inferiority complexes) revealed in the contacts with the healthy peers.
Educational monitoring often find that the preschool children diagnosed with severe intellectual retardations are normally free of serious motor dysfunctions albeit in 100% of the cases they are tested with meaningful physical disorders found by the agility, strength, speed, endurance and balancing skills tests – as compared to their healthy peers. They face serious difficulties in the movement sequencing and high-coordination-intensive actions and in the efforts to master new motor skills.
It should be emphasized that the modern physical developmental programs for the children with severe intellectual retardations give a special priority to games. As has been found by many studies, game practices give a powerful boost to the motor skills mastering process and rather beneficial for their health and mental progress on the whole. It is commonly acknowledged that sport games facilitate the cognitive, personality development and physical progress of the children diagnosed with severe intellectual retardations. In the motor skills mastering domain, such games help build up and stabilize the key motor skills (walking, jumping, running, throwing etc.) and the key movement coordination (fine motor, spatial orientation, balancing etc.) abilities. A special role in such game programs for intellectually retarded preschoolers will be played by active games – that may be offered under special correction/ mental progress training programs or regular physical education and other practices. It is clear that such active game programs for the intellectually retarded preschoolers shall be perfectly customized to their individual developmental and behavioral disorders and needs for success of the corrective efforts [3, 4].
Since the physical and verbal progresses are known to be closely interrelated, the physical education service to intellectually retarded preschoolers shall include speech therapy, mental gymnastics and relaxation practices reasonably combined with the respiratory practices. The physical development programs for the intellectually retarded preschoolers shall be also reasonably complemented by dancing, swimming, physical activation elements geared to improve the cortical functions, coordination abilities and movement sequencing skills via coupled and group games-driven trainings to facilitate the intellectual progress on the whole .
Conclusion. Our theoretical analysis of the physical development programs for the intellectually retarded preschoolers has confirmed that these programs shall give a high priority to the motor deficiencies correction, physical activation and health protection and improvement components.
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The article analyzes benefits of a motility correction and motor skills development model for preschool children with intellectual retardations; and considers the notion of intellectual retardation in the context of the mental and physical issues faced by oligophrenic preschoolers. The motility correction and motor skills development model was tested on a sample of 20 mentally retarded children from the Special Child Rehabilitation Center in Kaliningrad city. The children’s progress was tested by the following tests: fingers mobility test; graphical skills and movement accuracy L.A. Vagner test version; coordination ability testing 3x10m shuttle run test; static balancing skills test; ball handling tests (floor striking and throw-and-catch tests); bending on a bench test; clinostatic test; and V.V. Gorinevskaya test. The sample was tested with meaningfully low test rates in every test, with the most serious retardations found in the dynamic/ static balancing, muscular coordination and movement harmonizing/ differentiating ability tests. Preschool children diagnosed with severe intellectual retardations are normally free of serious motor dysfunctions albeit in 100% of the cases they are tested with serious physical disorders found by the agility, strength, speed, endurance and balancing skills tests.