What’s inside this article: Description of bilateral coordination, types of bilateral movements, signs your child has poor bilateral coordination, and lastly, ways to develop and improve bilateral coordination.
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What is Bilateral Coordination? How do you Improve It?
Bilateral Coordination is the ability to use both sides of your body in a coordinated fashion.
Many activities in school and throughout childhood (and life) require bilateral coordination.
Developing bilateral coordination is important.
The fact that I have bilateral coordination is the reason why I can sit here and write this post, with both my hands on the keyboard and typing these words as they come to my head.
A child with delayed bilateral coordination development may be clumsy
Also, they may frequently try to use one hand for tasks that should require two hands.
This post is part of a 10 part series on the sensory systems. Each part will contain a table of contents to help you easily navigate through the entire series.
Table of Contents:
- Introduction – The Sensory Spectrum
- The Tactile System
- The Auditory System
- The Visual System
- Vestibular System
- The Olfactory System
- The Oral-Motor System
- Bilateral Coordination
Types of Bilateral Movements
There are three types of bilateral movements we perform.
For most of us, we do these movements daily and aren’t even aware of it because it comes naturally to us.
However, for a child struggling with bilateral coordination challenges, these types of activities may require intense focus to complete, or they simply may not be able to perform them at all.
1. Symmetrical Movements
These are movements where both arms, or legs, must perform the same movement at the same time, and with an equal amount of force.
Symmetrical Movement Examples:
2. Reciprocal Movements
These are movements where actions are carried out first by one hand or foot, and then the other, in a rhythmic way.
When bilateral coordination is poorly developed these movements will look jerky instead of smooth or your child will be unable to perform them at all.
Reciprocal Movement Examples:
3. Leading Hand and Supporting Hand
Coordinating your leading hand and supporting hand actions together are required for tasks where you need to stabilize an item with one hand, while your dominant hand does more skilled work.
Both hands are equally important in completing the task because, without adequate stabilization from one hand, the other hand will not be able to perform the work correctly.
Leading Hand and Supporting Hand Examples:
How to Tell if your Child has Poor Bilateral Coordination
If your child has bilateral coordination delays they may also have trouble in school, have poor fine motor skills or gross motor skills.
They may also have poor hand-eye coordination.
Additionally, you might notice challenges with the vestibular system because bilateral coordination is a component of sensory integration within the vestibular system.
Some specific behaviors to look out for include:
Bilateral Coordination Exercises and Activities
There are many ways to help develop bilateral coordination at home.
An occupational therapist can also assess your child’s abilities and suggest ways to encourage the development of any skills your child is struggling with.
As it turns out, it’s difficult to find resources online related specifically to improving bilateral-coordination.
However, the key to developing any lagging skill is – practice, practice, practice.
The more times your child does something successfully, the more that skill will develop and improve.
Choose activities your child is likely to do well at as you begin practicing and developing their bilateral coordination.
Here are some of my favorite activities, toys, and resources from other bloggers.
Looking for more resources for your sensory kiddo?
Check out these 40 accommodations for common sensory challenges