Sensory Motor Deficits

Also known as: sensory and motor deficits, developmental disorders, sensory and motor disorders.

What are sensory motor deficits?

Sensory and motor development is the process whereby a child gains use and coordination of his/her muscles of the trunk, arms, legs and hands (motor development), and begins to experience (through sensory input) the environment through sight, sounds, smell, taste and hearing.

Motor development follows a general pattern that most babies, infants and children will follow. When motor function, movement and coordination ability fall outside of a wide range for normal, motor delay/deficits describes the abnormality.

Sensory deficit is a general medical terms that encompasses a wide arrange of symptoms which can include
difficulties with one of the main senses like touch or taste, or difficulties with multiple senses.

Many developmental or learning disorders, include challenges with motor function like:

  • Delayed sitting, crawling and walking
  • Catching a ball
  • Dancing
  • Playing sports
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills like writing clearly, and with either hyper responsiveness, or unresponsiveness to external stimuli
  • Difficulty with understanding, tolerating and participating in a normal life environment

What causes sensory motor deficits? 

Environmental, intrauterine and genetic factors contribute to poor motor function as do a wide variety of brain injuries that may occur during childhood.

The cause of the brain abnormality that gives rise to sensory processing difficulties is not known, however twin studies suggest a genetic component.

What are the symptoms of sensory motor deficits? 

Sensory motor deficits can take a variety of different forms. Children with sensory processing disorders will be hard to have a conversation or play with; symptoms fall into difficulties interpreting and reacting normally to the environment around them.

Motor problems describe the symptoms associated with muscle development, body movements, motor coordination and fine motor skills. Abnormal repetitive movements called “tics” may also be part of the motor abnormalities found.

What are sensory motor deficit care options? 

These disorders cannot be cured, but supportive/therapeutic measures in the form of medications and various forms of rehabilitation therapy can improve overall daily function for many of these children.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: March 04, 2020 09:13 AM