Academic and Clinical Education
This presentation on the development of motor behavior in infants is relevant to clinicians, researchers, and students concerned with understanding and promoting functional motor behavior. The material is appropriate for attendees at all levels. I will focus primarily on empirical evidence from typical development, but the concepts and framework are relevant for understanding disability and intervention. A major challenge for pediatric therapists is to understand and facilitate functional motor behavior. Although therapy is typically geared to isolated domains of motor behavior, I will show that skill acquisition must encompass the whole child participating in everyday activities in the physical and social environment. I will argue that body, environment, and social/cultural factors are critical for facilitating and shaping motor skill acquisition and for enabling children’s participation in everyday activities. Moreover, new motor skills create new opportunities for exploration and learning that instigate cascades of behavioral development across diverse domains. For each key factor, I will show that changes in children’s bodies, environments, and experiences entail behavioral flexibility, and thus are essential to interventions designed to facilitate functional, adaptive motor behavior. Overall, this course will benefit attendees by broadening and enriching their understanding of the development of motor behavior.