Turn Mystery to Mastery! Neuromotor Task Training for Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder or Other Coordination Difficulties

with Prof. Dr. Bouwien Smits-Engelsman, PT

Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) exhibit difficulty learning motor skills and transferring an acquired motor skill to another setting or task. It’s as if every task in another context is a new mystery that needs to be relearned.

Turn Mystery to Mastery! provides therapists the knowledge and skills to help children with DCD learn and generalize motor skills using Neuromotor Task Training (NTT). Popularly used in Europe and other countries outside the US, NTT is a task-oriented approach that is based upon motor learning principles. It has strong support from numerous meta-analyses and systematic reviews, and is recommended by the European Academy of Childhood Disability (EACD) over body-function-oriented approaches.

NTT can also be applied to other children with coordination difficulties, such as those with Autism, ADHD, ADD, Down Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy with higher cognitive and physical function.


The 7 NTT Modules

Apply EBP brings to the US Dr. Bouwien’s course series of seven modules of Neuromotor Task Training (NTT):

Main Module: Introduction to Neuromotor Task Training for Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (1-day course)

This course will provide an overview of evidence for task-oriented intervention approach in children with DCD. The instructor will explain the 5 main steps of the NTT process, starting with (1) assessment and identification of needs within the daily activities of the child; (2) selecting tasks the child, family or teachers would like to work on in therapy; (3) systematic approach to identifying factors that limit and enable task performance; (4) practice training, and ; (5) reevaluation and transfer opportunity checks.

Participants will be introduced to Task Analysis and Task Performance Analysis. They will also practice the concepts of Task Loading, Task Specificity and Guided Discovery. The instructor will emphasize the importance of differentiating between teaching methods used for children at different ages and stages in their learning and development. She will also explain the application of the Motor Teaching Principle Taxonomy (MTPT) within the 3 categories of Giving Instructions, Sharing Knowledge and Providing Feedback.

Self-Care Module: Neuromotor Task Training for Activities of Daily Living Skills (1-day course)

Many children with poor motor control have a hard time eating without spilling, donning/doffing clothes, preparing food and performing other ADL skills. Different activities such as making a sandwich, eating, cutting, getting dressed, and brushing teeth will be analyzed. Some training programs for these activities will be developed and tried out.

Balance & Agility Module: Neuromotor Task Training for Skills Requiring Dynamic Balance & Agility (1-day course)

Many recreational games and sport activities involve rapid whole body movements with changes in velocity or direction. Such skills are difficult for children with poor dynamic balance. Different activities will be analyzed, for example, walking with a tray, playing tag, hopping, jump rope, or others. Some training programs for these activities will be developed and tried out.

Ball Skills Module: Neuromotor Task Training for Activities Requiring Ball Skills (1-day course)

Many recreational games and sport activities involve catching, aiming, throwing, kicking or using a bat (ping pong, tennis, softball), together with body positioning and rely heavily on anticipatory control (known to be poor in children with Developmental Coordination Disorder). Different activities will be analyzed. For example, ping pong, catching and aiming games. Some training programs for these activities will be developed and tried out.

Skilled & Fit Module: Neuromotor Task Training for Activities that Require Functional Strength and Conditioning (1-day course)

Many children with poor motor control also have poor functional strength and condition. Moreover children, who are not skilled, tend to avoid active play, which may lead to secondary consequences (overweight and poor fitness). How to apply training principle to improve strength and endurance within skill learning will the practiced during this module, for example during climbing stairs, cycling and games.

Handwriting Module: NTT for Motor-based Handwriting Problems (2-day course)

Handwriting difficulties cause participation problems for children with DCD. Additionally, although smartphones, tablets and laptops provide them another means for producing written work, keyboarding and swiping are still fine motor skills that may prove to pose problems in this group of children. This course will discuss a model to differentiate whether handwriting issues arise from higher (cognitive) or lower (motor) problems.  Background for dual tasking will be discussed. Day 1 will focus on assessment using the Systematic Detection of Handwriting Problems (test manual will be provided for the attendees). On Day 2, a task-oriented program for motor-based handwriting difficulties will be practiced, including ways for children to self-evaluate performance. Bring case studies!

 Motor Imagery Module: Motor Imagery Protocol for Children with DCD or Other Coordination Difficulties (1-day course)

Studies have provided important new insights into how the motor control system is affected in children with DCD.  Many children with DCD have a deficit in motor prediction and online control, also known as the internal model deficit. New techniques, sought to train the internal models of movements without actually moving are Motor Imagery (internal rehearsal of a future motor action without overt motor output) and Action Observation (observation of the action performed by someone else).

These techniques have already been used in sport and adult rehabilitation; will now be used to develop a training protocol for a specific case study. Each attendee should bring case studies, including videos of a child exhibiting motor problems performing a task. Attendees should also bring equipment to record videos, such as a smartphone or tablet with connectors to a laptop. Attendees will take home a protocol for Motor Imagery.

Attendance of the Main Module is required to proceed with the other modules.


Upcoming NTT Courses

  • Main Module: Introduction to Neuromotor Task Training | June 18, 2018 | New York, NY
  • Ball Skills Module: Neuromotor Task Training for Activities Requiring Ball Skills | June 19, 2018 | New York, NY | Attendance of Main Module is required
  • Motor Imagery Module: Motor Imagery Protocol for Children with DCD | June 21, 2018 | New York, NY | Attendance of Main Module is required

About Dr. Bouwien

Prof. Dr. Bouwien is a Professor in Developmental Human Movement Science at the University of Cape Town. She is a qualified physical therapist, a neuroscientist, a skilled clinician and is a prolific publisher in the area of motor rehabilitation.

She is the developer and co-author of the approach entitled Neuromotor Task Training (NTT). NTT is a very popular task based approach to intervention based upon motor learning principles and has strong support from numerous meta-analyses and systematic reviews. She gives numerous presentations and workshops worldwide and is in constant demand for her various skills.

Click here for more information about Prof. Dr. Bouwien.

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