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Is Low Muscle Tone Interfering With Your Child’s Learning?
Integrated Learning Strategies (ILS) is a learning and academic center. As a reminder, ILS is not a health care provider and none of our materials or services provide a diagnosis or treatment of a specific condition or learning challenge you may see in your child or student. If you seek a diagnosis or treatment for your child or student, please contact a trained professional who can provide an evaluation of the child.
Muscle tone. It’s a word most of us would associate with body builders and fitness buffs. But do you think of a child with speech problems? The kid slumped over on their desk at school? Or the clumsy child dropping their pencils and fumbling around the playground. Muscle tone may not be what you think and it could be affecting your child in the classroom.
Muscle tone actually refers to the tension or rigidity of the muscle as opposed to actual strength. The next step is understanding how muscle tone affects learning. To do that, we need to look into low muscle tone. Low muscle tone is a condition where the muscles lack tension. This is usually caused by muscles that are longer than average. The elongated muscles require more energy to get moving and as you can imagine, requiring more energy can result in a whole host of problems.
Low Muscle Tone and Learning
Muscles are everywhere. They control all gross and fine motor skills so if they’re not working properly, especially if they’re requiring extra energy for normal function, seemingly normal activities can become a lot more taxing. Some of these kids are fighting an uphill battle just to climb out of bed in the morning let alone sit focused in a classroom for six to seven hours. Low muscle tone in the core of the body creates difficulties with posture and sitting up attentively. Similar problems in the hands can exhibit in poor handwriting and poor dexterity. If the facial muscles are involved, pronouncing words becomes harder and more labor intensive. Low muscle tone can affect muscles all over the body and because of that, the list of possible symptoms can be long, but here are a few to get you started.
Most kids gathered around for story time sit with their legs cross-crossed or Indian style. A lot of kids with low muscle tone sit with their legs in a W shape. This position is hard for me to comprehend. The W position is named because their legs form a W. Their knees point forward, creating the bottom angles of the W and their toes point back acting as the tops of the W.
As I said before, muscles with low tone take a lot more energy to get moving, so it makes sense that these kiddos are going to get worn out faster than their friends. This isn’t to say that they’re always slow or lethargic. They may even excel at activities that require short bursts of energy. But those bursts are short lived. When a child is struggling in school, many times parents will tell us that their child is very athletic, but when we engage them in specific play-based activities to build connections in the brain, we find that many of them are uncoordinated, have poor balance, and low muscle tone. Not every activity is made for brain-building. It takes purposeful and meaningful movements of the body to build connections in the brain as you will see here in “3 Brain-Building Activities for Higher Learning.”
It’s hard to keep proper posture if their muscles aren’t providing the proper resistance. And poor posture leads to a decreased distance between their head and their desk which we all know isn’t a good thing. It also shortens a child’s breath and restricts their diaphragm. Why is this important? It’s critical for speech. If a child doesn’t have the right poster and enough breath for speech, how can we expect them to communicate, say their letters and improve their language skills.
Struggles on the Playground
Those elongated muscles also make it hard for climbing and dangling. Add in the tiring quickly factor to the difficulty and the playground can be a daunting place. Climbing ladders, crossing monkey bars, and climbing rock walls become overwhelming tasks instead of an exhilarating way to spend free time. You may find that they fear or avoid playing on the big toys altogether.
Gives Up Easily
When everyday tasks are a constant struggle, it’s hard not to lose hope and faith. With what looks like little effort to us, kids with low muscle tone will throw in the towel. From their point of view, they’ve given all they can and they may already be used to not getting the results they want so why keep trying? This may also exhibit as lacking concentration or attention span.
Low muscle tone can seem overwhelming, but don’t lose hope. With a lot of encouragement and some physical intervention things can get easier and it will improve their learning capabilities in the classroom.
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning challenges achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs