Prediction of adaptive motor skill performance in school-aged children with low birth weight without major neurosensory impairment
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Many children with low birth weight (LBW) demonstrate significant impairments in adaptive motor functioning upon school entry. Identification of these children so that appropriate remediation can be rendered is problematic. The purpose of this study was to identify predictors of adaptive motor difficulties at kindergarten age in LBW children without diagnosed neurosensory impairment. Children (n=341) representing a subset of the 3,338 children enrolled in the National Early Intervention Longitudinal Study (NEILS) met the inclusion criteria. Variables were extracted from the Enrollment Family Interview and the Kindergarten Family Interview of the NEILS. Three separate multiple regression analyses were performed to examine the predictors of caregiver reported functioning at kindergarten age in fine motor, dressing, and functional mobility skills. Variables were divided into three categories for analysis, including biological (gender, length of hospitalization, birth weight, gestational age), environmental (perceived social support, caregiver confidence in child rearing, maternal optimism for child's future, maternal education, and income level), and behavioral (responsiveness to auditory and visual stimulation, activity level, ability to focus, ability to be soothed, and sleep disturbances). The alpha level was set at p=.01 for each test. Maternal optimism was the strongest predictor of fine motor skills ( r=.287, p≤.0005) and one of two of the strongest predictors of functional mobility skills (r=.178, p≤.0005). Perceived social support was the strongest predictor of dressing skills (r=-.245, p≤.0005) and one of two of the strongest predictors of functional mobility skills ( r=-.178, p≤.0005). Gender and ability to focus emerged as relatively strong and significant biological and behavioral predictors, respectively. As a group, environmental variables explained the greatest percentage of variance in adaptive motor skill performance. Gender, maternal optimism for child's future, ability to focus, and perceived social support emerged as the strongest individual predictors of adaptive motor skills at kindergarten age in children born with low birth weight without diagnosed neurosensory disorders.