Original Research

Fine motor deficits and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in primary school children

Maria Mokobane, Basil J. Pillay, Anneke Meyer
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 25 | a1232 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v25i0.1232 | © 2019 Maria Mokobane, Basil Josrph Pillay, Anneke M Meyer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 May 2018 | Published: 22 January 2019

About the author(s)

Maria Mokobane, Department of Behavioural Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Basil J. Pillay, Department of Behavioural Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Anneke Meyer, Department of Behavioural Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


Background: Many children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) display motor deficiencies during their daily routine, which may have impact on their developmental course. Children with ADHD who experience motor deficiencies often display deficits in tasks requiring movements, such as handwriting.

Aim: This study investigated deficiencies in fine motor skills in primary school children with ADHD. The study further sought to establish whether ADHD subtypes differ in deficiencies of fine motor performance, recorded for both the dominant and non-dominant hands.

Methods: The Disruptive Behavior Disorders Rating Scale, completed by educators and parents, was used to screen for ADHD symptoms. Researchers confirmed the diagnosis of ADHD. Motor functioning was assessed using the Grooved Pegboard and Maze Coordination. The children diagnosed with ADHD were matched for age and gender with controls without ADHD. The sample consisted of an ADHD group (160) and control group (160) of primary school children from the Moletjie area.

Results: Children with ADHD (predominantly inattentive subtype) and ADHD (combined subtype) performed significantly more poorly than the control group on the Grooved Pegboard (p < 0.05) with both the dominant and non-dominant hand. No significant difference between the hyperactivity and impulsiveness subtype and the controls were found. There was no difference on the Maze Coordination Task (p > 0.05) between the ADHD subtypes and the controls.

Conclusion: Difficulties in fine motor skills are prevalent in children with ADHD, particularly in the ADHD-PI and ADHD-C. Problems are encountered in distal, complex, speeded tasks. The effect may lead to poor handwriting and academic performance.


ADHD; Subtypes; Motor functions; Grooved pegboard; Maze coordination task; Primary school children


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