Helping people with handwriting and movement difficulties

  • Helping people with handwriting and movement difficulties

    Professor Anna Barnett

    Research from Professor Anna Barnett which utilises her expertise in motor development and Developmental Coordination Disorders (DCD) is leading the way in supporting individuals, health and education professionals.

    The Movement ABC-2 Test is internationally recognised as the gold standard for identifying children with motor difficulties.

    These reports were invaluable in helping both me and my daughter understand the areas which were causing such difficulties

    The test has a long history and undergone radical revision since first being published in 1972 and revised as the Movement Assessment Battery for Children in 1982.

    Professor Barnett joined the original authors as project director for production of the second edition. Her skills and experience put her in an ideal position to lead on all aspects of the project to substantially revise and re-standardise the test.

    Professor Barnett's revision and development has provided health and education professionals with a reliable assessment tool, improving the support for children and their families.

    There were substantial improvements in the Movement ABC-2 compared to the first edition. These included an extended age range, equipment updated to be more attractive and comply with new safety standards and revised items to improve reliability.

    Effects on children

    A Paediatrician at Stanford University, USA has commented: "The MABC-2 is an extremely important and robust tool for both care providers and investigators in long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes among high risk infants.”

    Children and their families also benefit directly from test results. For example, the mother of a child with DCD said: "A thorough assessment of her motor skills using the Movement ABC-2 confirmed her persistent motor difficulties and diagnosis of DCD. These reports were invaluable in helping both me and my daughter understand the areas which were causing such difficulties and allowed her and her school to put into place strategies to help. She also received 25 per cent extra time in all public exams and this enabled her to reach her potential."

    The MABC-2 is useful for the assessment of general motor competence but many teachers and therapists are also concerned with the more specific skill of handwriting, which is so important for academic progress.

    Children with developmental disorders, particularly those with DCD, often have severe handwriting difficulties which are associated with underachievement at school.

    Tools of handwriting assessment

    With a special interest and expertise in the development of handwriting skill and in examining the nature of handwriting difficulties in DCD, Professor Barnett has also developed two new handwriting assessment tools.

    These are the Detailed Assessment of Speed of Handwriting (DASH) for 9-16 year olds and DASH17+ for 17-25 year olds.

    These are the first handwriting tests to provide UK normative data and standard scores for students aged 9-25 years.

    The production of both the Movement ABC-2 and DASH tests required an extensive program of research.

    The MABC-2 test has subsequently proved to be extremely popular and extensively used world-wide in countries including the USA, Canada, Australia and around Europe. Meanwhile, up to December 2012 the total estimated number of DASH test assessments were over 165,000.

    This further illustrates how Professor Barnett’s research is making a real difference in identifying and supporting individuals with handwriting and movement difficulties.

    Find out more

    Read more about the full Impact Case Study on RADAR. Further information on Professor Anna Barnett can be found on her profile page