Visual-Motor Integration in Children With Mild Intellectual Disability: A Meta-Analysis

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Visual-motor integration (VMI) skills, defined as the coordination of fine motor and visual perceptual abilities, are a very good indicator of a child’s overall level of functioning. Research has clearly established that children with intellectual disability (ID) have deficits in VMI skills. This article presents a meta-analytic review of 10 research studies involving 652 children with mild ID for which a VMI skills assessment was also available. We measured the standardized mean difference (Hedges’ g) between scores on VMI tests of these children with mild ID and either typically developing children’s VMI test scores in these studies or normative mean values on VMI tests used by the studies. While mild ID is defined in part by intelligence scores that are two to three standard deviations below those of typically developing children, the standardized mean difference of VMI differences between typically developing children and children with mild ID in this meta-analysis was 1.75 (95% CI [1.11, 2.38]). Thus, the intellectual and adaptive skill deficits of children with mild ID may be greater (perhaps especially due to their abstract and conceptual reasoning deficits) than their relative VMI deficits. We discuss the possible meaning of this relative VMI strength among children with mild ID and suggest that their stronger VMI skills may be a target for intensive academic interventions as a means of attenuating problems in adaptive functioning.

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