Measures of Speech and Manual Motor Development in Children

N Potter, R Kent, J Lazarus


Children with motor speech disorders frequently also exhibit manual disorders.  Age-appropriate modifications of maximum performance and force regulation tasks, provide information about the correlation and co-development of the manual and speech systems in typically developing preschool children.

The purpose of this study was to examine the developmental trends and the correlation between speech and manual development and to develop a reference database for rate, timing, and sequencing maximum performance tasks and force regulation tasks in typically developing preschool children.

Measures of real word and nonword single syllable repetition and tri-syllable sequencing and repetition, finger-thumb tapping, finger sequencing, tongue, pinch, and hand maximum strength and force regulation, utilizing maximum performance tasks, the Iowa Oral Pressure Instrument, and a strain gauge unit were elicited from 50 children ages 3;0-5;5.

Children increase in rate and ability to sequence and decrease in intra-subject variability as a function of age. Children who experience difficulty sequencing speech tasks also experience difficulty with sequencing manual tasks.  

Maximum performance and force regulation tasks are appropriate measures of neurological development and enhance our understanding of the development  and correlation of motor control required for speech, non-speech, and manual tasks in preschool children.