First Advisor

Robert E. Smith

Term of Graduation

Summer 1970

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology






Perceptual-motor learning, Mentally ill children -- Care -- Oregon -- Portland



Physical Description

1 online resource (87 pages)


Twenty emotionally disturbed children between the ages of six and twelve from three agencies providing special treatment for behavioral or emotional problems were the subjects for this study. The subjects were divided into two major diagnostic categories, withdrawn and acing out, and then matched in pairs by age and diagnosis. One half of each pair was randomly assigned to the experimental condition and the remaining halves were assigned to the control condition. Both the experimental and control groups contained five withdrawn and five acting out subjects. Four experimenters were used, and each experimenter worked with two or four experimental children and their matched control subjects.

The Purdue Perceptual-Motor Survey was administered to all the subjects prior to the experiment and behavior rating of maladaptive behaviors was obtained on each child from three adults who worked closely with the child. Using the methods outlined by Kephart and Radler in "Success Through Play", the experimental subjects received perceptual-motor training for one-half hour three times a week for nine weeks. The control subjects received individual adult attention for the same amount of time as the training in the form of physical or quiet activities and games.

At the end of the nine weeks the subjects were tested with the Purdue Perceptual-Motor Survey again and new behavior ratings also were obtained. The behavior scale was analyzed as a total score and then two subscores were obtained for anti-social and asocial behaviors. Analysis revealed that: 1) The experimental subjects’ perceptual-motor scores increased the most, especially among the withdrawn subjects; 2) The training had little effect on the maladaptive behaviors of the acting out subjects. The experimental acting out subjects improved behaviorally, but not significantly more than the control acting out subjects; 3) The training had a significant effect on the maladaptive behaviors of withdrawn children. The total behavior scores and the asocial behavior scores of the experimental withdrawn children improved; their anti-social scores changed very little.

The subjects came from three agencies with different treatment philosophies. One agency was a public school with special classrooms for emotionally disturbed children which exclusively used behavior modification techniques. Another agency was a residential treatment center which was designed for a milieu therapy, where the children are removed from the home. The third agency was a semi-residential treatment center that used a combination of milieu therapy and behavior modification techniques, where the children return home for weekends. There were equal numbers of acting out, withdrawn, experimental and control subjects from any single agency. An analysis of the amount of behavioral improvement within each agency was performed which revealed that there was significantly more improvement among the subjects from the semi-residential treatment agency.

It was concluded from this study that; perceptual-motor training increases the perceptual-motor abilities of emotionally disturbed children, especially those diagnosed as withdrawn, childhood schizophrenic and autistic; perceptual-motor training aids in reducing maladaptive behaviors in disturbed children diagnosed as withdrawn, childhood schizophrenic and autistic; perceptual-motor training may most effectively be used for emotionally disturbed children in conjunction with other forms of treatment.


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