Perceptual-Motor Behavior in Down Syndrome,
D.J. Weeks, R. Chua, and D. Elliott, Champaign, Ill, Human Kinetics, 2000, hardback, 376 pp, $45.
Lori A. King
The main thesis of this text is that perceptual motor behavior in people with Down syndrome is lawful, adaptive, and appropriate. The intended audience is physical therapists, occupational therapists, nurses, physicians, parents, and students in the health professions. Several leading researchers have contributed chapters, which are organized into three parts.
Part one deals with the characteristics of perceptual motor behavior associated with Down syndrome. Chapters are included on reaction time, schemas for manual skills, auditory processing problems, locomotor constraints, ophthalmic factors, and face-processing abilities. The authors attempt to draw clinical implications for their research but consensus is not achieved on how therapeutic interventions should be designed. The researchers, who use an information-processing framework, advocate increased intervention and quality practice, although others argue that the movement patterns of children with Down syndrome are optimal considering their limitations and therefore, favor a hands-off approach.
Part two deals with motor development, learning, and adaptive change. There are chapters on facilitating motor performance, attention and cognitive skill acquisition, motor coordination and adaptive change, and longitudinal motor development. The third part of this text deals with the current research strategies used in the investigation of perceptual motor behavior in those with Down syndrome. The perspectives of ecological psychology, neuropsychology, and neurophysiology are all represented.
The text has some redundancy across the literature reviews in each chapter. Although the authors attempt to draw clinical implications for therapists, most are not clinicians themselves. For example, Latash and Anson both suggest a hands-off approach based on their theory that the brain selects the most appropriate movement strategy given the individual’s constraints. A clinician might argue that removing constraints through therapeutic intervention may expand movement pattern repertoires and therefore, favor a hands-on approach. This text would be an appropriate supplementary text for research review courses in motor control.