Crossing the midline can be as simple as reaching your right arm across the front of your body to pick up a cup of coffee on the left side of the table. Or reaching across with your left hand to turn a doorknob on your right, or completing a simple jumping jack. Most of these movements we do without even thinking about it! However, when this skill is lacking, it can be very frustrating and challenging for the child to complete even simple daily living skills. The school age child may demonstrate challenges in his or her learning environment.
Why Crossing Midline Matters
When we perform activities that cross the midline of our body, these movements are helping build pathways in the brain that are extremely important for various skills such as gross motor, fine motor and cognitive skills. All movement requires a sense of balance. When the equilibrium is deficient, it can affect how we sit and may produce an increase in fidgeting and restlessness. Poor midline skills can also cause the learner to have scattered attention. Movements that cross the midline are important for fine motor skills, directional skills (such as up, down, left and right) and for interpreting symbols (such as letters or numbers). If a child has difficulty with handwriting and copying written work, often they may have challenges with midline moves as well.
Moves That Help
There are basic moves that have been researched and used to help build this skill. Groups such as the Educational Kinesiology Foundation d.b.a Brain Gym International (Dennison and Dennison 2010) have combined crossing midline moves with learning to help develop this skill in children and adults.
The Cross Crawl
The Lazy 8 (Dennison and Dennison 2010)
Daily Routine Moves
JJ Schweikert, MOT, OTR/L
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