NCPEID Feature Article–Teaching Fundamental Motor Skills to Preschoolers with Disabilities or Developmental Delays: A Systematic Review


  • Hsiu-Wen Yang
  • Michaelene M. Ostrosky
  • Hedda Meadan
  • W. Catherine Cheung


fundamental motor skills, disabilities, preschool, systematic reviews


 Children with disabilities can have access to a variety  of learning opportunities via motor play. Researchers have emphasized the need to intentionally support children’s motor skill development. Despite previous research showing that fundamental motor skill (FMS) interventions result in improved motor skills for preschoolers with disabilities or developmental delays, it is unclear if those studies were methodologically sound. Thus, the purpose of this review is to summarize the existing evidence and critically evaluate the quality of research on FMS interventions for preschoolers with disabilities or developmental delays using the Council for Exceptional Children’s Quality Indicators. Seven studies are included in this review, and the findings clearly indicate there is a need to conduct more methodologically rigorous research in this area. Additionally, implementation fidelity must be addressed in future studies to enhance our understanding of intervention effectiveness. 

Author Biographies

Hsiu-Wen Yang

Hsiu-Wen Yang is a technical assistance specialist and research investigator at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received her master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from the National Taiwan University and her PhD degree in Special Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As a former occupational therapist, she has worked with young children with developmental disabilities and their families in a variety of settings (e.g., home, school, hospital). Her research focuses on early intervention, family-centered practices, parent coaching, inclusive practices, and social-emotional development.

Michaelene M. Ostrosky

Michaelene M. Ostrosky is Grayce Wicall Gauthier Professor in Education in the Department of Special Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). She has been involved in research and dissemination on the inclusion of children with disabilities, social emotional competence, and challenging behavior. Through her work on the National Center on the Social Emotional Foundations for Early Learning, she was involved in the development of the Pyramid Model for Supporting Social Emotional Competence in Young Children. 

Hedda Meadan

Hedda Meadan is a professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, a Goldstick Family Scholar, and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Dr. Meadan’s areas of interest include social-communication skills and challenging behavior of individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities and intervention methods to enhance these spheres of functioning.

W. Catherine Cheung

W. Catherine Cheung received her PhD in Special Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in December 2020. Her doctoral training focused on the longitudinal data analysis of the correlation between motor skills, communication skills, social emotional skills, and academic performance in young children with disabilities. Dr. Cheung is interested in studying the impact of physical activity on the development of motor, cognitive, communication and social skills in children with disabilities, especially in children with autism and cerebral palsy. 





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