The traits of this condition were first recognized by John Langdon Down, whose teachings on the subject were first published in the year 1866. However, it was not until 1959 that it was discovered that all Down syndrome people possessed an extra chromosome, the so-called twenty first chromosome. When we use the term motor development, we refer to ones ability to move the large muscles in a coordinated manner. Examples of motor skills include activities such as sitting, crawling, walking, and jumping.
Down Syndrome and Motor Development
Gross motor development tends to follow a similar pattern in most Down syndrome people. Speaking generally, large muscles will develop before the smaller ones. With this in mind, it is fair to say that gross motor development is the foundation stone of skill development in other areas. For the most part, development usually moves from top to bottom. The first thing a baby normally learns to control is his or her head movement. Thus it is important that a baby gets a certain amount of tummy time each day.
The phrase fine motor development refers to the development of small muscle groups. This includes muscle groups such as the fingers and the hands. Down syndrome muscle development normally follows the same pattern as typical muscular development. However, motor development will generally be slower than is typical. This slower development can be attributed to hypotonia, loose joints and ligaments, hand shape, and decreased cognitive skills.
The decreased cognitive skills serve to make it more difficult for the child to use his or her powers of reason, as well as to coordinate his or her range of movements. Fine motor skills refer to the picking up of small objects, cutting, writing, and the pincer grip.
When a baby is young, gross motor skills will initially begin to develop. The development of fine motor skills will follow on to gross motor development at a later stage. One can do several things to assist a child in the proper development of his or her fine motor skills. For example, one can help a child to become more aware of his or her hands.
One can do this through massage. If the child fusses a bit as a result of the massage, it might be necessary to back off a bit. Try placing a toy in his or her palm, and note if he reflexively closes his or her hand around the object.