Bilateral coordination refers to the bodies ability to use both sides of the body simultaneously to carry out a task.
Two Major Components of Bilateral Coordination:
Crossing midline is an individual's ability to reach across the middle of the body with either arms or legs during functional activities. At around 3-4 years old, a child should begin to cross the midline of the body spontaneously and develop a consistent hand dominance. This will present as the child having a preference for what hand holds a feeding utensil, writing utensil, and throws a ball etc. The ability to cross midline is a crucial component for proper bilateral coordination of both arms and legs.
The second important component to efficient bilateral coordination is body awareness. Body awareness is the ability to understand how our body moves and where our body is in space. For example, body awareness tells us how far away our body is from objects or people, how much pressure is necessary to be applied to a crayon when coloring, and allows a child to be able to accurately identify certain body parts. If a child presents with poor body awareness, they may have a difficult time bilaterally coordinating both sides of their body due to a lack of awareness of where their body is in space.
Typical Progression of Bilateral Coordination:
Infants will start by bringing hands to midline to play with their fingers
Babies will begin to use both hands simultaneously to bang together objects/clap
Child will hold one hand stagnant while the other one works on a task
Task is performed with both of their hands working together to coordinate the movement
Children require bilateral coordination skills to be able to do everyday tasks such as putting on shoes and socks, walking up and down stairs, cutting their food, or even riding a bike.
Fine motor activities that incorporate bilateral coordination:
Pulling squigs off the mirror
Coloring & Scissor Use
Activities on a vertical surface
Itsy-Bitsy Spider, Pat-a-Cake and Clapping
Musical instruments such as drums & cymbals
Rolling out dough with rolling pin
Gross motor activities that incorporate bilateral coordination:
Crawling through a tunnel
Propelling on scooter board
Riding a bike
Throwing and catching a ball
1.Buckner, M.K. (n.d.). Bilateral Coordination. Therapy Street For Kids. Retrieved at <http://therapystreetforkids.com/BilateralCoord.html>
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