- The process of taking in sensory information about one's
environment as well as one's own place in space, movement, force, and
so on in order to successfully imagine and complete a motoric task.
For example: think about the process of learning to
drive a standard transmission automobile. You need to be able to know
how far to reach to the gear shift without looking. Which pedals your
feet are on without looking. How hard you are pushing on each pedal.
How far you are turning the wheel and in what direction. When exactly
you should move to shift gears, take your foot off the clutch, etc.
etc. And you need to be able to judge whether your first movements were
correct and to quickly correct the force, speed, direction, and timing
of your movements. THAT is motor planning. We take it for granted every
day, but for many children this process is not as easy as it should be.
- Difficulties with motor planning can exist in the area of ideation...
- A child may have a hard time imagining how she could move herself
in relation to other objects when she is trying a new activity.
- ...Or in the area of motor
- She may see what she wants to do, but makes errors in the timing,
force, or range of her motions so that she, for example, doesn't step
high enough to clear a step and trips on it instead.
- ...Or both!
- Technically, motor output can be further broken down into "feed-forward" -- this is the process
of the brain predicting what it will feel like and what will happen
when the movement begins; sort of a super-quick visualizationand "feedback" -- meaning sensing what is happening with the movement and
comparing it to the predictive model, in order to make adjustments as
needed. (For ex., if a glass being lifted is heavier than it looked, it
won't move and greater force needs to be applied).
- One more thing: to really look at a child's motor planning, you
have to watch during novel,
Think again about the example of driving a stick-shift car.
After a year or two of driving, barely any thought is necessary to
reach accurately for the gear shift, turn the steering wheel the right
amount, and use the correct timing and force on the pedals. That isn't
because your motor planning skills have improved; it's because you have
a file in your brain of "driving a stick shift" and you just run the
various bits of that file, with slight adjustments as needed, on
auto-pilot. If you took a trip and rented
a manual car with the driver's seat on the "wrong" side, that would be
true motor planning again!